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Why were resonator guitars created in the first place?
“They were created because it was in the days before amplification, and even, really, before the days of PA systems. So acoustic guitars were having trouble being heard.
“The fashionable music at the time was Hawaiian music. It was kind of like the hit music all over America, and instrument makers such as Weissenborn were trying to make Hawaiian guitars louder by making instruments with hollow necks and great big bodies. Then, in 1926, John Dopyera invented the first resonator guitar, a Tricone, which was for playing Hawaiian lap-steel guitar on. It went into production in 1927.
“There were only square-neck instruments to begin with, and that was all they did. Then they went into round-neck Tricones, like regular guitars, because people wanted the volume. During those first two years, they developed ukuleles, mandolins, and single-cone guitars. Single-cone guitars came in 1929, in fact.”
What are the tonal differences between the Tricone and single-cone designs?
“The Tricone is the sweetest: it’s the ultimate acoustic slide guitar. The three cones give it a tone and a resonance that no other instrument has. Nothing else produces harmonics and tones like that: it’s probably nearer to an electric guitar than it is to an acoustic. A single cone is louder – more attack, more power, less sustained.”