The spun aluminum resonator (the cone) is the very heart of the National guitar. Much like the human heart it has been subject to what I like to call juju.
Here’s what I can tell you about old and new resonators: out of all my repairs of single resonator guitars, I have seen only a handful of viable old resonators. Two things happen to them. One: they get brittle and crack, or two: they get soft and sag. Out of those two, I see more saggers. What happens when they sag is that the inside rim of the cone sags and touches the pan that it sits on, muting the sound. Sure these make noise, but for tone, clarity and volume, forget it. In some cases the saggers literally self destruct from the inside out, often resembling pimples on the outside.
The Tricones tend to fare better. Why, I don’t know. They are made from a thinner alloy that seems to hold up slightly better. The only drag is that most have been crushed at one time or another. For replacement purposes I can only recommend genuine National Reso-Phonic cones. Don Young at National Resophonic has put his life work into them and they are as true to the originals as one could possibly get. (I got to spin a few myself when I worked there.) The prices run $45 for the 9.5 or 10.5 and $108 for the tricone set. Don’s replacement Dobro cones are the greatest too! ($45.)
If you have a Dobro style ukulule, cones and spiders are now available, so please contact us for details and prices. If you have a Regal uke with the crude and heavy 4 legged spider, we can supply a lighter 8 legged spider too!