National Style 1 Tricone Squareneck Resophonic Guitar (1930)

National  Style 1 Tricone Squareneck Resophonic Guitar  (1930)

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Item # 7763
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National Style 1 Tricone Squareneck Model Resophonic Guitar (1930), made in Los Angeles, California, serial # 1918, nickel plated finish, German silver body, mahogany headstock, ebony fingerboard, black hard shell case.

This Style 1 Tricone is a wonderful Hawaiian-style National, the premier instrument of its type in 1929 -- some would say ever! The National Tricone is generally considered the best-sounding of all acoustic Hawaiian guitars, and this is an excellent player's example. Built just as the 1920s Jazz Age party was crashing down, this is still the "state of the art" for acoustic steel playing.

The Tricone Design, as its name implies, used 3 small spun aluminum cones to amplify the strings, set inside a hollow metal body of "German silver" alloy. This mellows the attack and adds sustain, creating a uniquely ethereal sound. The Tricone was a product of a collaboration between inventor John Dopyera and Hawaiian guitarist George Beauchamp, who wanted a louder instrument for the vaudeville stage than existing wooden guitars. The project came out so well that in 1927 they attracted investors and went into production, with four styles of Tricone resonators ranging from a plain deco Style 1 with no body decoration through the elaborately engraved Style 4.

The Style 1 Tricone was the basic model of the first line of resonator instruments made by National, the least expensive guitar the company offered from 1927-29. Even so it was still one of the priciest guitars in the world, tagged at $125, enough to buy a contemporary pearl-top Martin. The plain Style 1 has all the same features as the more expensive Styles 2, 3, and 4, just lacking the fancy decorative engraving on the body and a few decorative touches. These ultra-modern fancy resophonic guitars would continue to be built until WWII, but only in small numbers as the great bulk of National's production from 1930 on would be the far cheaper single cone instruments, and eventually those new-fangled electrics by the end of the decade.

The Tricones were forgotten for many years after, until the blues revival of the 1960s brought a new interest to the old resonator designs. The striking pure deco look of the Style 1 is in many ways the purest form of the National concept, and looks modern even today. The guitar plays perfectly and has the smooth deep Tricone sound, fabulous for both the original Hawaiian style or other 6-string steel guitar playing.
 
Overall length is 38 3/4 in. (98.4 cm.), 14 1/8 in. (35.9 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 in. (7.6 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 25 in. (635 mm.). Width of nut is 2 in. (51 mm.).

This guitar is in good original condition except it is set up with an excellent set of repro cones, using the original T-bar and saddle. The tuners are original with replaced buttons on the bass side; a very neat job, as is the new high bone nut. The headstock shows some finish loss on both sides and the "National" logo decal is long gone. There is one big dent to the top edge on the lower bass bout; on the seam, but not causing it to have opened up.

The nickel body finish has typical wear and light clouding overall and some small areas where it looks like perhaps something spilled onto the guitar ate a bit into the plating on the top and bass side, with smaller scratches where someone must have tried to clean it up. The overall appearance is still very nice and the only large area of plating loss is on the cover plate, under the treble side of the strings. Besides these areas of finish damage, this is overall a rather clean guitar, great-sounding and a fine player's Tricone. Overall Very Good + Condition.