The road ends, but the journey continues...

Introducing Maddy

Long story short, several years ago I fell in love with a National Res Guitar at McCabes Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. At the time, I didn’t follow my gut (even though hubby encouraged me to just ‘get it’) but rather my more practical side.  Part of that practical side being financial, but mostly wondering how in heck I could keep from compromising my cg-nails in playing it (even if I could always just use a pick, but still…) and the whole heaviness of the instrument and well, I ended up talking myself out of taking the plunge and entering into its wonder-world.
Zoom to Thanksgiving 2016. Hubby and I drove up to Lansing, MI for the Family Holiday at middle daughter and son-in-law’s new home. The day after our festive feasting, son-in-law and I took an adventure trip to Elderly Instruments just a few minutes’ drive into town.  I like to think it was a great excuse for this mother-in-law and son-in-law to further bond as fellow musicians. We browsed the instruments, soaking in the eye and ear candy. Nothing much tempted me to pick up and caress until my gaze happened upon this gorgeous tenor resonator.

triolian national tenor resonator guitar


Fascinated by the four strings on a res body, I lifted it off its display stand.  Son-in-law was playing a nearby steel body 6-stringer res but I was not impressed with its sound…curious as to tonal differences between the two instruments I sat next to him on the bench and began a simple strum on the tenor res.  And yes, she spoke to me. That long ago urging deep inside tugged, and this time I followed my gut!  Hubby encouraged me to take the plunge in honor of my folks.
I view this newest addition to my musical toolbox as a special gift given from my folks posthumously.
Because of that, her name* came easily to me:

                M(a) & (D)addy = Maddy.

I’ve since come to realize I have embarked on a rare journey: tenor guitars have little written about them. Add to that the fact that she’s a resonator – a National Triolian Tenor Guitar – and I’m happily learning about playing with a slide. Because there are so many tuning options to explore without having to negotiate six strings like a standard guitar, I am excited about delving into those options at the twist of a tuning peg.

Stuart standing on Maddy's case

Stuart standing on Maddy’s case with Gracie’s in the background

I started out with the ‘Irish Tuning’ of GDAE as is normal tuning on the mandolin and violin. After purchasing my first glass slide, I decided to re-tune Maddy to open G tuning (DGBD) which is one of two common tunings derived from the ‘Chicago Blues’ tuning used by blues guitarists. The other being open D tuning.
Another commonly used tenor guitar tuning is derived from its historical evolution via the tenor banjo, tuned to CGDA. I’m not quite ready for that one yet as Maddy will need a different gauge of strings to accommodate the lower pitches without an annoying sloppy slap.
Meanwhile, Maddy and I are traversing a new world, following the Master’s creative muse born in me by her namesakes.
*most of my instruments have names (Stuart is in front of Gracie’s – my pre-production jumbo quilted maple Taylor 12-string – case)


  1. Lori

    I know nothing about music, bu I can relate to being practical. My husband would’ve said the same as yours did. I’m so glad that you finally went with your gut and then named her Maddy. I’m learning to do this, too. Enjoy.

    • laura bruno lilly

      My hubby is definitely my ‘better half’!!!

  2. Anna Scott Graham

    I love this post! Maddy was waiting for you, and what a lovely gift indeed from your Ma and Pa. 😉

    • laura bruno lilly

      I thought of your experience standing in line and conversing with a man with mannerisms of your Father…we are not alone…
      Always and forever they are in our (he)arts.

  3. Andy

    The way Maddy spoke to you reminded me of the way that Luke’s old lightsabre spoke to Rey in the recent film. If you’re not so much of a Star Wars geek this may mean nothing to you. But it’s good! 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      Cooool. I’m not an SWGeek (though I saw the first three to come out in the ’70’s & early ’80’s) but I like the connection!

      • Andy

        May the Force be with your music.
        I know-I’m pushing it! 🙂

        • laura bruno lilly

          Oh, I’ll take your SWGeek blessing for sure!

  4. Lulu

    What a lovely post! May you make beautiful music together! xo

    • laura bruno lilly

      Ahhh, that we are! 🙂

  5. Janis

    Congratulations for finding Maddy and taking her home. It sounds like a match made in heaven. 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thank you, Janis.
      Love the double meaning in your ‘heaven-match’ statement…clever, that!

  6. Jane Chesebrough

    Yay! She spoke to you and you responded-perfect match, as is the name “Maddy.”

    • laura bruno lilly

      I knew you’d ‘get it’ Jane!

  7. Jennie Fitzkee

    Laura, I loved, LOVED reading this post. What an experience, and you put that to words beautifully. I wish you could come and play Maddy for my preschool class!

    • laura bruno lilly

      So glad you enjoyed my story, teacher! And the fact that you felt it was well written makes me proud. Maddy would definitely hold up under kid-handling, I’d have no problem letting them try their own assisted hands-on experience (visual: kids strumming with Maddy in their lap with you or myself sliding the slide along the strings…neat)

  8. Linda W.

    You were meant to have Maddy! So glad she’s home with you. Whatever feeds you artistically is what you’re meant to have! Yay! Love the name Maddy.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yeah, guess I got ‘another chance’ with Maddy. Thanks for being part of her homecoming cheering section!

  9. Patricia Salamone

    A beautiful tribute to your parents. I myself have always wished I was musically inclined but I’m not. I tried when I was younger but was told I was tone deaf. Maybe in my next life…..if thereis one. :o)

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thank you Patricia for stopping by – and sharing your enthusiasm for music!

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