National, Duolian Resonator Guitar, 1934 - Rich Robinson (The Black Crowes)
About the Builder:
National resonator instruments made from 1928 to 1940 were louder than conventional acoustic guitars of the era. They were also very popular with Hawaiian and Blues musicians in the late 1920's and early 1930's.
National's produced two types of resonators: The single cone and the tricone. Those instruments use very thin aluminum speaker cones, to mechanically amplify the sound of the instrument. This style of mechanical amplification was invented in the 1920's, before the advent of electric instruments.
In the single resonator models the convex 9.5" diameter cone has a maple "biscuit" on top of the cone. The biscuit has a wooden maple saddle which the strings pass over, like a conventional acoustic flat top guitar. But unlike flattop acoustic guitars where the vibration of the wooden body creates the sound, in a National resonator instrument the body acts as a speaker cabinet. When the strings are played, the vibration goes through the saddle to the bridge and then vibrates the speaker cone causing it to "resonate" and amplify the sound. Because there is fairly direct transmission of vibration from the strings to the resonator, the single resonator guitar is the loudest of the resonator guitars.
About the Guitar:
The National Duolian Resonator guitars where produced between 1930 to 1938. They had either Squareneck (D), or Roundneck (C). This is a great sounding single cone Nationalwhich was produced in large quantities due to the low price at that moment in time ($32.50 brand new). This was National's basic and least expensive resonator guitar model at the time.
This guitar is a C serie model owned by guitarist Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes. This was one of Rich's favorite guitars. He purchased it sometime in the early 1990s, and first used it during the recording sessions for the Black Crowes' album The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. Rich loved it so much he would eventually use it on every Black Crowes's studio album thereafter – including on such songs at "Hotel Illness" and "Wiser Time".
Sometime in the mid-2000s, Rich had a pickup installed on the guitar and used it live on the last few Black Crowes' tours, including all of the sessions at Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble in Woodstock, New York, in 2009.
The guitar's original cone was damaged at some point during the last Black Crowes tour. Nashville's Joe Glaser of Glaser Instruments very carefully repaired the original cone to its original state. Mr. Glaser lived up to his world renowned reputation as one of the world's best luthiers and worked his magic on it, restoring it to its original glory without any issues.
• Nut Width: 1-3/4”
• String Height (12th Fret): 1/8”
• Pickup: It has one, and it works great!
• Body / Style: 14" Steel with Round Shoulders, Upper F-holes with Rolled Edges
• Neck: Mahogany
• Finish: Gray Frosted "Duco" with Crystal-like Texture
• Weight: 7.15 lbs.
From The Guitar Magazine 8/96: