When he invented the original National Tricone all the way back in 1927, John Dopyera was seeking to create a louder guitar with internal amplification — but he also insisted that the guitar’s tone be absolutely clear. His groundbreaking design, patented in 1927, with three resonating cones projected the guitar’s sound so it could be over the sound of dancers and cut through a band or orchestra. As John rightly boasted, “The Tricone guitar flowed like a river,” and the company’s early ads proclaimed it “The Greatest Musical Sensation of the Age.” Even now, ninety years later, Tricones are still revered by musicians for that special sound.
Introduced near the height of the art deco period in the United States, the National Style 1 Tricone featured the bold, geometric, rectilinear design that was capturing the imagination of the design world of the time. To some, the Style 1 Tricone, with its unadorned German silver body, lattice soundholes, austere look, and function-following form design epitomizes classic art deco principles.
This is a very early original design National Style 1 Tricone. It features a brass body and coverplate, nickel plated and polished to a mirror-like shine. It has a square neck that is hollow all the way to the base of the headstock so that it functions as an additional resonating chamber.
The guitar has a typical slotted National headstock with about 70% of the “National” trade mark decal still remaining. The original open tuners are in place and work well. It has a beautiful fine grained, dark ebony fretboard with round pearloid dot markers and nicely yellowed binding.
This fabulous example has the low serial number of 1271 and was built in 1929. It is in remarkable, completely original condition. It has never worn a pickup, and has no extra holes or modifications of any kind. This vintage National sounds exceptional, looks stunning, and plays cleanly. There is some light tarnishing of the metal in places, which is to be expected of a 90 year old instrument, but absolutely no dings, dents, depressions or dimples.
There are no structural issues and most importantly, no rattles. It is mighty loud, but not harsh. This one plays beautifully, with a rich, clear voice, and lots of character.
A fabulous, very original vintage National in excellent condition with almost a hundred years of history, and plenty of miles left on the clock.
Comes in a TKL hard shell case in good condition.
Here’s some links to video demos of the same instrument –