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  #1  
Old 09-20-2019, 01:30 PM
LemonCats LemonCats is offline
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Default Help! Brass Singlecone or Brass Tricone

Hey guys so I've done ALOT of reading and sound comparisons online about single cones vs tricones and body material and how that affects tone, sustain, etc. And honestly I just am having a really hard time coming to a decision because I dont have the ability to play either in person before purchasing

Right now im trying to make a decision between a brass single cone and a brass tricone and I'm sweating bullets cus I dont want to order one and then regret not getting the other instead. I would love both but really shouldnt be buying more than 1 new guitar

Really wish i had a dealer in my area who carried these

If i got a single cone it would be brass (full size too, not parlor)
If i got a tricone it would also be brass


the brass singlecones do seem to have a greater amount of sustain than the steel bodies from what i can hear, aswell as clarity.
  • The only thing im worried about with the single cone is how long a note sustains and how long a chord sustains
  • The things im worried about with the tricone is lack of bass and clarity of individual notes when played close together/fast

If anyones had both a brass single and a brass tricone that can chime in would love to hear about it

I do mostly finger style and will probably be learning alittle slide too, so they both seem like good options. Tricone being alittle better for slide due to sustain.

I sort of wish someone with a brass version of each would make a video/sound recording of just an open strum and plucking of each open string. So i could hear how long it lasts and the tonal differences between the two
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Last edited by LemonCats; 09-20-2019 at 01:37 PM.
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  #2  
Old 09-20-2019, 02:16 PM
frankmcr frankmcr is offline
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All's I can do is post this, you can really hear the tricone sound. The great Sol Hoopii at his best.

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  #3  
Old 09-20-2019, 02:29 PM
archerscreek archerscreek is offline
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Are you looking at Nationals? For that kind of $$$ I would definitely recommend taking a trip, even if it's a four or five hour drive. Why? Because I bet for many, their preconceptions are shot down when they actually get them in their hands and play them. Remember, just because a tricone is described to have "more sustain" doesn't mean a single cone has little or no sustain or not enough sustain.

In my opinion, a brass bodied single cone National has plenty of sustain if a player wants it. They sound very sweet. I made offers on some but have never been able to bring one home from the store, dang it. Haha. But I don't find a lack of sustain to be an issue with my steel NRP either. Damping is the issue.

And on that topic, another issue is hand placement. National tricones have that funny t shaped thing going on on their cover. Single cones have a single bridge cover piece that can be removed for easier string damping. I'm not sure you can remove the tricone equivalent.
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Old 09-20-2019, 02:39 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LemonCats View Post
Hey guys so I've done ALOT of reading and sound comparisons online about single cones vs tricones and body material and how that affects tone, sustain, etc. And honestly I just am having a really hard time coming to a decision because I dont have the ability to play either in person before purchasing

Right now im trying to make a decision between a brass single cone and a brass tricone and I'm sweating bullets cus I dont want to order one and then regret not getting the other instead. I would love both but really shouldnt be buying more than 1 new guitar

Really wish i had a dealer in my area who carried these

If i got a single cone it would be brass (full size too, not parlor)
If i got a tricone it would also be brass


the brass singlecones do seem to have a greater amount of sustain than the steel bodies from what i can hear, aswell as clarity.
  • The only thing im worried about with the single cone is how long a note sustains and how long a chord sustains
  • The things im worried about with the tricone is lack of bass and clarity of individual notes when played close together/fast

If anyones had both a brass single and a brass tricone that can chime in would love to hear about it

I do mostly finger style and will probably be learning alittle slide too, so they both seem like good options. Tricone being alittle better for slide due to sustain.

I sort of wish someone with a brass version of each would make a video/sound recording of just an open strum and plucking of each open string. So i could hear how long it lasts and the tonal differences between the two
Hi,
all Nationals are more or less the same body size, whether tricone or single cone.

The body material dictates the tone to an appreciable extent.
Brass - of the metal bodies they are smoother and more pleasing to the ear , and heavier!
Steel - Harsh, driving, rough, just like them ol' blues guys.

Tricones - a fuller rounder tone, singles more focused
Single cone - more direct.

(I would draw a parallel with tricone as the rosewood and single as the mahogany).

I had a wonderful National Style "O" deluxe:



I swapped it for a wooden body;



It is horses for courses.

National used to sell a CD pack with bob Brozman demonstrating the different models - don't know if it is still available.
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  #5  
Old 09-21-2019, 01:08 AM
Ceabeceabe Ceabeceabe is offline
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Both the National brass bodied tricone and the single cone will likely be louder and have greater sustain and dynamic range than most acoustic guitars out there.

The single cone is on balance louder, punchier and more fundamental than the tricone. The tricone on balance sweeter, with longer sustain than the single cone.

My observation was that single cones were mostly used for blues, and tricone were used for blues and other things. But the reality is you can use whatever guitar for whatever music, if you want.

There are some techniques you can learn that will help manage both the variety of sounds both the single and tricone make, including how to let strings ring and how to dampen them, whether to use metal finger picks etc., how to get the best use out of a slide.

Overall, go with your gut. I couldn’t do much a/b play between the two before buying. Based on reading a lot and watching a lot of videos, and playing a few single and tricone here and there, I felt like a tricone would serve me better (slack key and blues, with some slide playing) and as it turns out I ran into a great priced used tricone that was in really good shape before I came across a similarly enticing single cone. So I sold a guitar and bought the tri and have not looked back. Learning some new technique and experimentation with dynamics and sounds really changed my playing for the better. A few years later I ran across a used single cone at the right price and in good enough condition for me. It is really fun to play (and has a really comfortable neck compared to my tricone sharper v) but in a pinch I would let that go and keep the tri.

Have fun!
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Last edited by Ceabeceabe; 09-21-2019 at 09:03 AM.
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  #6  
Old 09-25-2019, 04:21 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Just to add to what’s already been posted, the Tricone will be a more versatile instrument. That construction method gives the player a richer, more musical tone. The single cone creates a more direct, focused tone, while the Tricone is considerably more lush and full.

Just as a historical note, the Dopyera brothers who created the whole idea of resonator guitars were in business with a partner. Sales had slowed with the onset of the Great Depression, and it was the partner who insisted that the National Guitar Company start building simpler single cone instruments that could be sold at lower prices.

John and Rudy Dopyera were appalled by the thought of building single cone instruments, and refused. They thought building single cone guitars was a terrible idea. So the partner took the company away from them, and since he owned the majority of the stock because he’d invested considerably more money in the business than they had, he owned the patents, as well.

So not only could the Dopyeras not stop him from putting single cone instruments out on the market, but they lost the rights to make the Tricone models that they loved.

So the brothers went off, founded the Dobro company and invented the spider bridge cone system that subsequently became very popular among country and bluegrass musicians.

Which is remarkable, when you think about it. They created the basic design framework for entire resonator instrument field as it exists today.

Anyway, the partner made the correct business decision in building single cone instruments, and there are a lot more of those floating around because of it. But in terms of overall musicality, I personally feel that the Dopyera brothers were correct: from a musical standpoint, the Tricone truly is the superior design.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller

PS: Rereading what I wrote there, I can see where a reasonable person might say: “Wait a minute, you just explained that it was the partner and not the brothers who came up with the single cone instruments.” Which is true. But all he did was decide to make a larger version of the biscuit bridge cone that the Dopyeras had already invented. In that sense, the design work was theirs, he just modified and repackaged what they’d already done.
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Old 09-26-2019, 02:36 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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I've owned National brass Tricones and single cones, and in not one instance did the single cone have more sustain. What a single cone has is a quick attack, and that what makes it so great for gutbucket style blues. the tricone has a smooth sustain with more balance. If I was looking for versatile, I would grab a tricone, if I was looking to play straight up blues it would be a single cone.

Although I prefer brass instruments I've always liked the polychrome tricones (steel body, baked wrinkle finish) as I think they straddle the line of sustain and good tone.... Here's one I just saw on reverb...

https://reverb.com/item/5665818-2006..._source=google
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Old 09-26-2019, 11:21 PM
gfirob gfirob is offline
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Pretty hard question, really since each of these instruments are really very different. I sold a tricone to get a vintage single cone, but there was a lot about that tricone to love. Both were brass. You really need to play them and see what rings your bell.
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Old 09-27-2019, 09:30 AM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gfirob View Post
Pretty hard question, really since each of these instruments are really very different. I sold a tricone to get a vintage single cone, but there was a lot about that tricone to love. Both were brass. You really need to play them and see what rings your bell.
"Brass." "Rings your bell." I see what you did there....

The only thing I'd add is be sure you're comfortable with the weight. They aren't going to blow around in the breeze that's for sure.
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Old 09-27-2019, 07:31 PM
frankmcr frankmcr is offline
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Default 1928 tricone @ Gryphon

I think this is a bargain.

https://shop.gryphonstrings.com/prod...-tricone-57155
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Old 10-08-2019, 11:55 AM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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National sells a demo CD by Bob Brozman (or used to, anyhow) and he demos everything they sold at the time it was done. Very good for comparisons. It came with a companion CD of slide playing - a good value.
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