Circa 1927 Style 2 1/2 Tricone
Yesterday I posted about a rare square-neck National Duolian and that inspired me to search for other National guitars and to see if I could find what I consider to be the second most beautiful guitar ever made: The National Style 2 Tricone. (The 1/2 designation means it’s a shade fancier than the catalog version of the Style 2.) I have always loved the art deco styling of the Tricone and I thought that it harmonized perfectly with the simple “wild rose” engraving. To my eye, the plain Style 1 is too stark while the fancier Style 3 and Style 4 were just too fancy. I also love the way the engraving creeps up the square neck.
These guitars were invented in the 1920s as a way of amplifying a guitar before electrical amplification existed. The Tricone has 3 small aluminum cones that are connected by a T-shaped bridge, which is a complicated but effective method of increasing the volume. Even though Nationals are louder than wooden guitars, they still have sweet, mellow tone that is well suited to playing Hawaiian music, but, in the right hands, they also work well for 1920s jazz, pop and country. (Here’s a nice clip of Robert Armstrong playing a Jimmie Rodgers song on his vintage National Tricone.) If you’d like to experience the wonder of this National Tricone for yourself, just send $3250 to George Gruhn and he would be more than happy to rock your world.