National Tenor Tricone
National Style 1 Tricone Tenor (1928). $2,250.
There's nothing cooler than a National Res-O-Phonic tenor guitar, and if you ask me, the coolest of the Nationals is the tricone. Instead of a single resonator cone, these instruments contain three mini-cones, all connected via an ingenious three-armed bridge. The resulting tone is at once twangy and sweet, like a really good pineapple. This is a Style 1 tricone, so it's finished in plain "German silver" (actually a nickel-steel alloy) without all the fancy engraving of the Style 2 and 3 models. Nonetheless, it still looks super sharp, plays easily, and sounds sublime.
     The serial number is 462, which dates this instrument to 1928, the first year of production, according to the serial number lists published in Bob Brozman's book The History & Artistry of National Resonator Instruments. The National shield logo decal is intact, and the instrument appears to be all original, including the Planetary banjo-style tuners. It's in really, really good condition. Neck is straight and it's easily playable, even on the higher frets. There are a few minor impressions in the pear-shaped metal body (I wouldn't even call them dents) and a slight chip on the headstock. Wear on the T-shaped bridge cover and the back of the maple neck indicates that this tenor got a lot of playing time. That's not a bad thing—the good ones get played!
     I'm finding it difficult to express how much fun it is to play this thing. I can hardly put it down! Ragtime, blues, gospel, bluegrass, singer/songwriter stuff, novelty numbers—everything I've tried sounds great on this instrument. Buy it quick, before I change my mind about selling it! Sadly, the original case is gone, but I will include a gig bag. (I've carried my own National Triolian tenor in a gig bag since 2004, including a trip to Greece, and never had a problem with it.) Listen to a sound clip, see more photos, or for more information. $2,250 plus shipping. 48-hour approval period.


     Want to hear another 1928 National Style 1 tricone tenor in action? Check out this video clip, courtesy of Jacob Ullberger in Sweden: