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  #1  
Old 01-18-2021, 09:30 AM
J-Doug J-Doug is offline
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Default A National Tricone in the future

Hi guys,

I'm thinking about adding a modern National Tricone of some sort. This is a long way out since I bought 3 guitars in the last 16 months. More of a retirement present to myself in the future.

What are your experiences with modern National brand tricones? I was looking at something like this: https://www.12fret.com/instruments/n...ne-black-rust/

As much as I love the appearance of mirror finish nickel tricones they wouldn't be very practical for me since I don't see myself polishing it after every use. I think it would start to look terrible pretty fast.
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Last edited by J-Doug; 01-18-2021 at 09:42 AM.
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  #2  
Old 01-18-2021, 10:33 AM
blue blue is offline
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I've owned steel and Brass national tricones. The best way I can describe it is steel is Fender, and Brass is Gibson. German Silver is Gibson through the most harmonically complex clean amp you've ever played

I did sell my steel Polychrome tricone when I got my German Silver, a modern one bought used. But not because the steel sounded bad. I just couldn't justify keeping both, and the German Silver sounds amazing, and "classic", but also was my bucket-list guitar. When I started playing guitar as a child I took one lesson from the old guy across the street. He was a musician from back in the day who played with Turk Murphy's band, and he had a "real" Tricone on the wall. It made an impression I never recovered from! I never dreamed I could own one, let alone a modern one with the "right" material.

Buy used for three reasons:

1. There's a significant depreciation when you drive it off the lot.

2. Most people buy these and never play them. They are "harder to play" than a flat-top for many reasons. There's a learning curve, but it's worth it!

3. The finish is probably already compromised under the forearm, where the neck meets the body, and on the strap. So no worries!

I bought a 2001 Style N for $850. Is the finish mint? No. Does it look like Nickel National that was bought in 1931 and played actively until 1951? YES! No idea how that could ever be considered a bad thing!

Now if you find a used nickel one that looks mint, just give it a good clean and polish when you get it, and give it a good going over with pure Carnauba wax (like for a car). That will last you for months, and all you'll have to do is wipe it down after playing. The first time it isn't enough. Schedule in a cleaning and waxing. Easy peasy!
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  #3  
Old 01-18-2021, 03:49 PM
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Mr. Jelly Mr. Jelly is offline
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I had a tri cone and it was a machine. They have wide necks - FYI. Tri cones are not what I would recommend for blues.
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Old 01-18-2021, 05:24 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Originally Posted by Mr. Jelly View Post
I had a tri cone and it was a machine. They have wide necks - FYI. Tri cones are not what I would recommend for blues.
That's why I love this forum, so many different opinions! I would recommend a Tricone for blues all day long. To me the Tri-cone is the most versatile National Reso, and if I was to only have one National, it would probably be a German Silver Tricone! The second choice would be a 14 fret Style 0 in German silver. There is just something about that sound!

And after listening to J-Doug's Soundcloud page, I think it would be nice for him to have a guitar that bridges the sound of his wood bodied acoustics to the metal resos.

Last edited by rockabilly69; 01-18-2021 at 05:30 PM.
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  #5  
Old 01-18-2021, 05:31 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Originally Posted by blue View Post
I've owned steel and Brass national tricones. The best way I can describe it is steel is Fender, and Brass is Gibson. German Silver is Gibson through the most harmonically complex clean amp you've ever played

I did sell my steel Polychrome tricone when I got my German Silver, a modern one bought used. But not because the steel sounded bad. I just couldn't justify keeping both, and the German Silver sounds amazing, and "classic", but also was my bucket-list guitar. When I started playing guitar as a child I took one lesson from the old guy across the street. He was a musician from back in the day who played with Turk Murphy's band, and he had a "real" Tricone on the wall. It made an impression I never recovered from! I never dreamed I could own one, let alone a modern one with the "right" material.

Buy used for three reasons:

1. There's a significant depreciation when you drive it off the lot.

2. Most people buy these and never play them. They are "harder to play" than a flat-top for many reasons. There's a learning curve, but it's worth it!

3. The finish is probably already compromised under the forearm, where the neck meets the body, and on the strap. So no worries!

I bought a 2001 Style N for $850. Is the finish mint? No. Does it look like Nickel National that was bought in 1931 and played actively until 1951? YES! No idea how that could ever be considered a bad thing!

Now if you find a used nickel one that looks mint, just give it a good clean and polish when you get it, and give it a good going over with pure Carnauba wax (like for a car). That will last you for months, and all you'll have to do is wipe it down after playing. The first time it isn't enough. Schedule in a cleaning and waxing. Easy peasy!
+100 on everything said in this post
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  #6  
Old 01-18-2021, 06:16 PM
blue blue is offline
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Originally Posted by Mr. Jelly View Post
I had a tri cone and it was a machine. They have wide necks - FYI. Tri cones are not what I would recommend for blues.
I love my Tricone for blues. But I may be unique in my lack of appreciation for the steel single cone sound. So if that is your definition for a great blues sound, we disagree right off the bat, which is of course the way it should be.

I don't hate steel single cones. I just don't like them well enough to own one for its sound. I've been tempted by those Polychome steel singles with the yellow body and the spray painted Hawaiian scene for their appearance. I kinda dig that look more than the style O! And that's saying something because... You know... Style O!

One of the advantages of the tricone is the longer scale length. More string tension for slide and for lowered tunings. Celtic, Slack Key, Open G and D. Tricones FTW IMO for all styles. But my single cone brass Style N (plain style O with no Hawaiian scene) is what hangs on the bedroom wall for grab and go. We are sometimes attached to what is not necessarily the "best tool" for our style. Can't explain it, but there it is!
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Old 01-18-2021, 06:45 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue View Post
I love my Tricone for blues. But I may be unique in my lack of appreciation for the steel single cone sound. So if that is your definition for a great blues sound, we disagree right off the bat, which is of course the way it should be.

I don't hate steel single cones. I just don't like them well enough to own one for its sound. I've been tempted by those Polychome steel singles with the yellow body and the spray painted Hawaiian scene for their appearance. I kinda dig that look more than the style O! And that's saying something because... You know... Style O!

One of the advantages of the tricone is the longer scale length. More string tension for slide and for lowered tunings. Celtic, Slack Key, Open G and D. Tricones FTW IMO for all styles. But my single cone brass Style N (plain style O with no Hawaiian scene) is what hangs on the bedroom wall for grab and go. We are sometimes attached to what is not necessarily the "best tool" for our style. Can't explain it, but there it is!
When I was playing aggressive blues with my harmonica playing partner, I loved the instant attack of the single cone steel Triolian, and for that, the Tricone would come up short. But when I play solo country blues, which is my favorite, it's the Tricone or the Spider cone all day long. They just sound more musical. I just put a Krivo pickup on my Spider Cone for just that...

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  #8  
Old 01-18-2021, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by rockabilly69 View Post
When I was playing aggressive blues with my harmonica playing partner, I loved the instant attack of the single cone steel Triolian, and for that, the Tricone would come up short.
Instant attack is the right word! I had to sell my wood Radio-tone Bendaway because it literally hurt my ears. The only reso I've owned that did that. I had to wear "Hearos" when I played it or my ears felt numb after 20 minutes. And I have a squareneck tricone that literally shoots the sound up into my face!

That sharp instant attack... I can't take it!
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  #9  
Old 01-18-2021, 08:43 PM
J-Doug J-Doug is offline
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Thanks for all of the responses guys!
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  #10  
Old 01-18-2021, 08:44 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue View Post
Instant attack is the right word! I had to sell my wood Radio-tone Bendaway because it literally hurt my ears. The only reso I've owned that did that. I had to wear "Hearos" when I played it or my ears felt numb after 20 minutes. And I have a squareneck tricone that literally shoots the sound up into my face!

That sharp instant attack... I can't take it!
I know this sounds like heresy, but I think a lot of that has to do with the response of the hot rod cone, sound just jumps of the the biscuit style. I have an old Johnson reso with a new neck and when I put a hot rod cone into it it changed the sound for the worst for just that reason. Sometimes I like the pre hot rod cones better as they are more mellow. But when you need the attack, like I did in my blues duet, the hot rod kills in a good way!
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Old 01-19-2021, 08:46 AM
jt1 jt1 is offline
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I love tricones!

Do remember that there is a distinction between the "German silver" (really just nickel, but National dubbed the stuff German silver in the 1920s and 1930s) and the nickel-plated brass guitars. The "silver" version is solid nickel, not brass plated with nickel.

National built but few of the German silver guitars in its early days and issued a few reproductions a decade or so ago.

Anyway, here's my 1930 German silver/nickel tricone:

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Old 01-19-2021, 09:28 AM
blue blue is offline
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Originally Posted by jt1 View Post
I love tricones!

Do remember that there is a distinction between the "German silver" (really just nickel, but National dubbed the stuff German silver in the 1920s and 1930s) and the nickel-plated brass guitars. The "silver" version is solid nickel, not brass plated with nickel.
I'm afraid it's not pure nickel. It's an alloy. Very similar to, if not identical to, some formulas of fret material. They are nickel plated. I have a '32 square-neck, and there are places where the plating is near gone.
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Old 01-19-2021, 12:18 PM
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Organic Sounds Select Guitars Organic Sounds Select Guitars is offline
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Hey Doug,

Have you considered a wood bodied tricone? National makes one of those too, and its a very cool instrument.
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Old 01-19-2021, 12:32 PM
J-Doug J-Doug is offline
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Originally Posted by Organic Sounds Select Guitars View Post
Hey Doug,

Have you considered a wood bodied tricone? National makes one of those too, and its a very cool instrument.
I'm open to all options: steel, brass, German silver and wood. I have a lot of time to research, hopefully play more and finally decide.
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  #15  
Old 01-19-2021, 12:44 PM
blue blue is offline
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Originally Posted by J-Doug View Post
I'm open to all options: steel, brass, German silver and wood. I have a lot of time to research, hopefully play more and finally decide.
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