2009 National Reso-Phonic Triolian Resonator Guitar

Of all the numerable models built by the modern National Reso-Phonic company, it's their wood-bodied instruments that I like best because they offer something quite useful and new. They're lightweight and have a sound that's close to the metal-bodied instruments but a little woodier, a hair less "reverb-y," and more direct and fundamental.

Compared to the '30s wood-bodied models which used bodies and necks built by Kay and Harmony, the modern take on wood-bodied resonators made by NRP are built in-house with a sturdy, practical design. The soundwells are metal like on the metal-bodied guitars and the interior construction (dowel and posts) is the same, too. The look is maintained as well, especially on these Triolian models, where the finish gives a very traditional vibe. It has a flat back, however, but won't give you the shivers from cold storage if you pick it up in New England winter to pick on. The ply used on this guitar is good quality, too, with maple veneer.

All these changes add-up to a guitar that feels much more sure of itself than the '30s wood-bodied instruments and with much more of the punch and sound of the lighter-weight, steel-bodied Nationals of the early '30s.

Work included: a mild fret level/dress, further compensation to the original saddle, and a good setup. It plays spot-on with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret. It'd be easy-enough to dial this up for slide work, however, with a shim or second saddle. The neck is straight and the truss rod works. It's got string gauges 54w, 42w, 32w, 24w, 16, 12 on at the moment. The saddle is "medium" in height and the break-angle from the upper deck of the tailpiece to the rear of the saddle is fairly shallow. It'd be easy to add more break-angle on it (and thus increasing the bark of the instrument) by stringing the ball-ends on the top of the tailpiece with the strings coming-out the bottom so more downpressure is added. As-is, it's functioning just fine, however.

Specs are: 25" scale length, 1 13/16" nut width, 1 9/16" string spacing at the nut, 2 5/16" spacing at the bridge, 14" lower bout, 10 1/8" upper bout, and 3 1/8" side depth. The neck has something like a 14-16" radius to the board and a medium-to-big, V-shaped back.

Materials are: ply maple body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard, ivoroid binding, and pearl dots on the board. It's entirely original, too, but does come with a Schatten resonator pickup that could be installed as desired. I removed it during setup work as it was rigged-up for "outboard" hookup and dangling wires drive me nuts.

Condition notes: there are a few very minor scratches here and there -- 3 that I noticed -- one on the top next to a coverplate mounting screw, one on the side near the endpin/tailpiece hanger, and one on the back edge of the guitar. Otherwise this thing is clean as heck.

It comes with: its original NRP hard case and a Schatten resonator pickup that can attach to the bridge. The case has medium use-wear to its tolex covering but is rugged and good to go.

The removable wrist-rest/bridge cover is one thing that I adore about new Nationals. It saves an absurd amount of time fussing with the coverplate when all you want to do are minor adjustments to the setup...