How did Tricones and single-cone designs differ in terms of construction?
“In Tricones, there were two body materials: German silver [an alloy of copper, zinc and nickel] and then they went to brass. German silver’s pretty hard to work with, and it’s expensive. So the ‘golden period’ of Tricones was German silver, but later models were made of brass – and most modern Tricones are made of brass.
“In single-cones, you’ve got four materials. You’ve got steel, brass, wood and German silver. German silver was the top of the range, but most of the shiny nickel- plated ones are brass-bodied. The painted bodies are generally steel.
“The first metal-bodied, single-cone guitar was steel, but before they went into any of that, they made wood-bodied, single-cone guitars: Triolians. That was the first single-cone guitar, and it’s sort of National’s best-kept secret, because it looks like it came out of a toy shop: it’s bright yellow with hula girls on it, and that puts off a lot of people. But that is the ultimate single-cone National, in my opinion.”
National and Dobro were the big players in resonator guitar – but they were linked by the name Dopyera. How did they differ?
“The Dopyera brothers owned National, but there were all kinds of political rows and John Dopyera, who was the inventor, walked away from the National company very early. He didn’t like what was going on. He was overpowered by business people, and so he formed the Dobro Company.”