When it comes to resophonic guitars, Paul Beard’s instruments are the gold standard for some of the best in the business, from the late Mike Auldridge to IBMA’s reigning Dobro Player of the Year, Jerry Douglas. But at $4,000 and up, his guitars were priced out of reach of many players.
He worked on a Gold Tone line, made in China. But as China’s flagging economy made importing instruments more difficult and more expensive, Beard kept pursuing his dream of “getting an affordable quality instrument that’s made in America in the hands of pickers.”
This week, at IBMA’s World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, Beard unveiled the fruits of that dream: the Copper Mountain series of roundneck and squareneck guitars. They list for $1,699 and $1,499 respectively.
Like his top of the line models, the Copper Mountain guitars are made in Beard’s shop in Hagerstown, MD. They feature the same cone and spider that come on the higher-priced models, but to save labor costs and keep the price down, they include a composite back and sides, with a birch top and a curly maple neck.
With rounded edges and a satin finish over a variety of stains, the guitars are easy on the eye. I have to be honest. I didn’t expect a lot of resonance with the composite back, but I was quickly proven wrong. The notes ring out and decay slowly. “The number one comment I hear is, ‘I didn’t expect that big of a sound,’” Beard said as a handful of pickers tried out instruments in his World of Bluegrass booth in the Exhibit Hall.
A few minutes with one of these instruments was enough to convince me that the Cooper Mountain resophonic guitar would be a wise choice for traveling abroad and playing in outdoor jams. In fact, I was so convinced by the sound and construction that guitar #3 followed me home from Raleigh. (I hope my wife doesn’t read this.)
Beard is thinking about adding a Copper Mountain resophonic bass to the line soon.
More information on the Copper Mountain series and other models is available at beardguitars.com.