The Gold Tone PBS-D—or Paul Beard PB Signature-Series Squareneck Resonator Deluxe Guitar—is an elegant instrument with a homespun sound. In terms of looks, materials, and tone, it covers all the bases for slide players looking for high performance in a traditional package.
The minute I pulled it out of the included hard case, I could see the Deluxe is made from premium materials, with a maple neck and gorgeous curly maple top, back, and sides. (There’s also a model made from mahogany in place of maple, which sounds promising, as does a stripped-down model.) With a perfect high-gloss tobacco sunburst finish, maple binding, and elegant hearts-and-flowers inlays on a dark ebony fingerboard, the PBS-D looks luxurious yet understated.
The string path is well engineered, and the Paul Beard six-string tailpiece, maple bridge with ebony inserts, 1-7/8-inch high-rise bone nut, and easy-turning diecast tuning machines offer an excellent platform for the resonator. Although there are several options available for electronics—Fishman’s Active, Passive, or Nashville Spider pickups, all in the Paul Beard series—the guitar I tested was purely acoustic.
Out of the box, the Gold Tone was equipped with D’Addario strings (.017–.056) tuned to GBDGBD. However, its factory tuning didn’t last for long as I tried a few of my preferred slide tunings. And in addition to its rich and balanced tone, it was the Gold Tone’s ability to handle tuning changes that impressed me most.
The tuning stability was especially impressive because I tested it during a Northeast winter that featured sudden temperature drops and spikes—a dry 70 degrees Fahrenheit one day; 39 and raining the next. Not only did the PBS-D hold its tuning from day to day, it was very stable after changing from one open tuning to another. It’s a rare guitar that stays in the same open or alternate tuning 100 percent of the time. Even at the best of times, open tunings can wreak havoc on a guitar’s stability due to the way string tension increases or decreases for each tuning compared to standard tuning. Think about open A (E A E A C# E): three strings are normal; three are sharp, and therefore tighter. Try open E (E B E G# B E). Again, three strings go sharp, but now it’s a different three strings. Slack tunings like open G (D G D G B D) and open D (D, A, D, F#, A, D) create the same problem in reverse.
Rich and Sweet Tone
I played the PBS-D in open A, Am, D, and G tunings and was rewarded every time. In addition to tuning up quickly and holding pitch, the body/resonator combo produced rich tone across the pitch range. Bass notes were right but present. Highs were sweet and never too metallic sounding. The midrange was full and warm. I played with a light touch and a heavy touch, and while the latter brought out some of the friction in the roundwound strings, it never sounded rough.
The PBS-D’s compact size and reasonable weight (about 5.5 pounds) also made it comfortable to play—an easy fit on my lap. The combination of comfort and sonic rewards made me want to pick the guitar up every time I walked past it. I gave in more often than not.
The Bottom Line
The Gold Tone Paul Beard PB Signature-Series Squareneck Resonator Deluxe Guitar is a tongue-twister of a model name, but at around $1,150 street, there’s nothing twisted about the PBS-D’s price-performance ratio. Looks, tone, and playing comfort come together to produce an outstanding instrument. Whether you’re a new player looking for a well-appointed first squareneck or an experienced lap-steel virtuoso looking to add a versatile tool to your arsenal, it’s worth a serious audition.
BODY 12-fret tricone body; curly maple top, back, and sides; genuine US-made Paul Beard cone and spider; Paul Beard tailpiece; maple binding; high-gloss finish
NECK 25″-scale square maple neck; 19 frets; 1-7/8″ wide bone nut; ebony fingerboard with 19 frets and hearts-and-flowers inlays; chrome diecast tuners
OTHER D’Addario EJ42 strings (.017–.056); hardshell case; optional Fishman electronics; available left-handed
MADE IN China
PRICE $1,149.99 (street)