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National Guitar Cone Talk

See and discuss various Cones

National Guitar Resonator Guitar Cone
There's a huge amount of discussion regarding the merits of having an original cone vs. a new National Resophonic replacement cone for example. While that's a discussion for another day, let's look at some various cones used over the years and some identifying characteristics of the originals...
National Guitar Resonator Guitar Cone

Methods of attaching the biscuit to the cone

Here is another example of the smaller duco crystals amongst the larger ones. Although most Duco's are considered some shade of green or grey, the earliest advertisements for the model call it Dark Walnut. I'm green brown colorblind, so I haven't a clue, but my gal says this is NOT what you'd call green!
National Guitar Resonator Guitar Cone

Screw Method

(keep yer mind out of the gutter, please!) Here is an example of a vintage cone that employs a single screw from below screwed directly in the biscuit. In this pic, you can see that the screw has "pulled up" a bit, (towards the biscuit above it on the other side of the cone) in this case making the biscuit sit loose on top of the cone, a common cause of buzzes and rattles. The biscuit is usually glued to the cone top in addition to the screw or brad nails. Just a little bead of glue around the outer edge of the biscuit bottom.
National Guitar Resonator Guitar Cone

Level of Disgust

Here's another good way to determine if your cone is vintage. How disgusting is it? National Resophonic has been in business since 1989. The cone in the upper left is too disgusting to be that new. As you can see, I cleaned briefly a part of the right side of it, showing how it can be brought back to life. The upper right cone is from a 1932 Duolian. It's already been cleaned and is what I like to call a "minty original cone". As far as I'm concerned, that's as nice as I can expect for a 70 year old cone. The lower half shot is a new Nat REso cone.

National Guitar Resonator Guitar Cone

National Guitar Cones / Top View

Here I have four vintage national cones and one new National Reso replacement cone. One quick way to verify a vintage cone is when you see the impressed lines at the outer edge of the cone, as seen in the two outer cones pictured top row. They don't do that on new ones. An idea meant to strengthen them, but unfortunately became an area of common failure as they would crack out there on the edge. The two middle cones top row are both vintage. Note how I cleaned a small area on the right of the dirty one. With some effort, it will look like the one to the right of it, which I already cleaned. It was as dirty as the other. Also, in comparing to the new cone below, you can see the swirls are not as tight on the new ones as to the old ones. Another givaway in identifying old from new.
National Guitar Resonator Guitar Cone

National Guitar Cones/ Bottom View

knowing what we now know so far, it's pretty easy to idenify em, right? Outer edge lines mean vintage. The 4 brad nails on the top two mean most likely vintage, although a luthier could have replaced a cone and renailed. We further verify those by noticing the tighter/longer swirl lines as compared to the new on at the bottom.
One last thing, does my grass look bitchin or what? Can you tell I fertilized last month before all the rain we got here in So Cal. Sweeeet!!!
National Guitar Resonator Guitar Cone
National Guitar Resonator Guitar Cone

The Thrill of Victory.....a 31 duolian speaks to me!

Always exciting to open up a National Guitar for the first time. Here we see an exciting pic... note the mouse sized dust ball inside. The bigger the mouse, the more likely it has been sitting a looooong time. This can be cleaned up very nicely. After making a new biscuit, it's ready to go back to work inside this early Duolian. Minty cone indeed!
National Guitar Resonator Guitar Cone

National Guitar Resonator Guitar Cone
YES! One more exciting victory, a 40 style O opened for what looks to be the first time on a long time. Note, the mouse inside, not huge, but he's growing! No work had ever been done on this guitar, other than filing the biscuit down over and over. After a quick neck set, this minty cone jumped back inside it's womb where it should sound great for many years to come! Shown is the new biscuit I fashioned to replace the original, which was filed down to the bottom.
National Guitar Resonator Guitar Cone
National Guitar Resonator Guitar Cone

The Agony of Defeat!!!!! Ouch!!!

Here we are disappointed in what is an unsavable cone. You can see that it has been compressed/ crushed right below the biscuit. Won't be saving this one. Note all the crapola that's been put in over the years to compensate for rattles and buzzes. Both felt and a paper gasket were installed at different times, along w a ton of ugly glue in the well. The biscuit has come unglued from the cone and is floating around on top of the cone. Not good!
National Guitar Resonator Guitar Cone

National Guitar Biscuit-ology...

One last little item to notice is the biscuit on these old guys. More often than not they have been filed down repeatedly over the years to try and keep the action low as the neck slowly bows/ tilts from the body. Often it's so far down that the strings are actually touching the biscuit (round wood circle the saddle sits on top of). That can't sound good! Anyhow, this is how I am able to advertise a "minty original cone". Hope y'all find this interesting, many more stories to come! Len