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There are a number of metal body resonator guitars on the market though none as legendary as the National Vintage Steel Tricone. Manufactured by the National Reso-Phonic company since 1928, the Steel Tricone has come to represent the unadulterated acoustic blues tradition.
Created in the United States long before the birth of the electric guitar, the National Steel Tricone has proven to be both durable and loud, successful elements in any era of music. Famous for its strong sustain, a characteristic preferred by most slide guitar players of the present and past, the distinct sound of the National Tricone has been closely associated with a number of influential artists, among them Tampa Red and in recent times, Johnny Winter.
The Tricone Is One Loud Acoustic Guitar
The National Tricone is amplified mechanically by means of three very thin aluminum cones positioned inside the body of the guitar. The cones function as a trio of internal speakers designed to release noise anytime the instrument’s strings are picked or plucked, resulting in plenty of volume.
The familiar down-home resonance of tightly wound guitar strings scratching up against a smooth metal or glass slide is generally recognized as the sound of authentic blues. What’s interesting is that no electricity is needed. As a result no carbon footprint is generated rendering it a naturally green product by contemporary standards.
National’s Vintage Steel Design
National Reso-Phonic has captured the past with its vintage steel body. According to the company website, “The name ‘Vintage Steel’ refers to the plating process. The satin-nickel plating on each Vintage Steel instrument is designed to look aged with use and the passage of time.”
The metal body, often engraved with the tree of life design or a Hawaiian motif, adds character to an already unique instrument.
Other Features of the National Tricone
The National Vintage Steel Tricone is a 12 fret model, with three six-inch aluminum cones. The neck, hard rock maple matched with a rosewood fretboard, is 1.825˝ at the nut with a 25-21/32˝length and white mother-of-pearl inlays. A truss rod provides neck relief adjustment. The manufacturer does not recommend using string gauges higher than .058 in the low E.
Throughout testing the Tricone produced refined tones in open G, A, D and E tunings with either glass or metal slides.
National Reso-Phonic’s Vintage Steel Tricone, an unparalleled guitar with history making credentials, is a worthy investment and sure to improve over time.