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NGD Amistar Tricone!

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by tfarny, Nov 15, 2020.

  1. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    This one was a bit of a road trip, and it's going to need a little work but I am super pleased. There are not a lot of used tricones for sale around here.
    I've only owned one resonator before and it was an entry level biscuit bridge. This one sounds like the reso in my head. Even my wife loves it - and she NEVER says that!

    It's been sitting for years and really needs a fret polish and probably more. I put new strings on it just to make it playable and check it out a bit. LOVE the sound. It stays in tune great. The current setup kind of flummoxes me, or at least it's not how I want to be using it.
    It's frettable for cowboy chords and barely much beyond. And it does love to be played slide. Basically the nut is perfect for fretting (not raised) but the saddle is real high. I have in mind a more frettable, standard tuning approach. I guess the saddle will need to come down a ways. And it will need some kind of a pickup. Anyways, enjoy!
     

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  2. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Congratulations on your new old tricone.

    Not familiar with that brand but the usual way to adjust the action on any resonator is to shim or other wise adjust the neck stick. Most of the time there are a couple (or 4) screws under upper fretboard dots where the f/b extension is screwed to the body. You have only very limited adjustment at the saddle - you can take it down a hair but not much. Pull the cones out and see if you have a neck stick.
     
  3. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks for the info. I've heard of neck stick but never taken apart a reso. I want to leave it as-is for a week or so and just play it like this. I try and go slow on changing guitars, and it does work so great as a slide vehicle.

    Amistar were made for a time in the Czech Republic. Some people said they were a legit National competitor, I have no way to say one way or another but from what I can see the quality is apparent. It has Grovers, a bone nut and so on. And it sounds so good!
     
  4. gridlock

    gridlock Poster Extraordinaire

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    Sure looks nice. Congratulations!
     
  5. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I never played an Amistar, but they are well known in Europe. Nice find and it is beautiful. Keep us informed as time goes on.
     
  6. VWAmTele

    VWAmTele Friend of Leo's

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    Very nice. Always wanted a tri-cone. If you can find a local tech who knows resonators - I'd bring it in for adjustments. They're temperamental and if not put back the right way you'll have buzzes.
     
  7. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I second the suggestion to find someone who knows resonators - they have many little quirks that most people who work on guitars don't know about. I build and own and play a few of them and might be able to answer some questions
     
  8. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

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    Congrats! Amistar actually made Tricones for Regal on the early 2000s. They are easy to identify as the country of manufacture is stamped on them.
     
  9. Speedfish

    Speedfish Tele-Holic

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    Congrats!

    How much louder is a resonator compared to a standard acoustic?

    Thanks,
     
  10. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    It's quite a bit louder - percussive like a banjo. It might not be a lot louder by decibels but it's a sound that really cuts through.
     
  11. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    So - I have started to mess with this. I'm not certain it will do what I want without more work than I'm willing to do.
    First of all, there is a pretty good sized hump at the neck joint. Second, the fretboard seems to have a completely flat radius. But most importantly I don't think I will be able to move the neck stick, as the whole thing is under the "pan" that holds the cones in place and the pan is welded to the body.

    What I'm thinking is to sand down the saddle from the bottom at least 1/8 inch and use a file to cut down the last 5 frets where the hump is. If that doesn't work I'll have to take it to my guy, or welcome it as an open tuning slide specialist guitar.
     
  12. backalleyblues

    backalleyblues Friend of Leo's

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    For a pickup I recommend the Krivo pickup, I use one with my National tricone, and it’s the best one I’ve used on that guitar. If you’re playing with is just solo acoustic, you can also look at the Myers pickups-great accurate sound, but they are somewhat low output and prone to feedback-of course resonators in general are feedback pigs!

    Franc Robert
     
  13. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Afflicted

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    I love Tricones! Congratulations!
     
  14. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Like I said, I haven't worked on one of these but I have worked on a few resonators (I own three). Normally the neck is not glued to any part of the body - there will be two (or maybe four) flat head screws under fretboard dots on the extension over the body and some sort of screw at the end of the neck stick. The stick might go to the end block like a banjo or it might end at the edge of the sound well. There might be some little mushroom looking things under the stick that support it against the back. Here is a picture of my single cone duolian

    IMG_1005.JPG

    The action is set by loosening all the screws, moving the stick and retightening it.

    You might have a hump at the neck to body joint just like any acoustic guitar - the neck is at a slight angle with respect to the body and the top of a resonator is flat (no dome) so it might be pulled down. Rather than pulling frets and trying to plane it the fix is to shim the extension.

    Unless you are setting it up for pure lap play, I think the ideal action is just a hair higher than you might run on an acoustic - maybe 80 tho on the first string up to 100 on the sixth. To get this I like the fret plane to just hit the top of the Tee bridge with the saddle out

    IMG_2435.JPG

    By the time you cut your string slots this should give you a little more adjustment to get the action you like. I play a combination of slide and fretted notes so I want a reasonable action for both. Also, don't make the saddle too low or the strings will hit cover plate where they exit under the palm rest.

    Many resonators have either flat fretboards or very close to it. I prefer a very slight radius (maybe 20 inch) but my old Dobro is dead flat and it works fine. I also want it flat at the bridge because I use cylindrical slides (or a flat steel). Another thing you will notice is that most resonators have the bridge at the exact scale location - they have no compensation. That means that your fretted notes will be a little sharp - I push the break point on the saddle to the very back to minimize this.

    Some other minor thoughts about reso's in general. They do not need a huge high action unless you are going to play strictly lap style. They do not need monsterously heavy strings - I run a set of acoustic medium with a 14 on the first and 16 on the second, I'll often put an unwound third on it. I play in open G and open D, always tuning down. Be aware of your break angle, particularly if you are running high action - a friend borrowed my single cone, cranked it up to open A and crushed the cone. Beware of all of the rattle spots - its a good idea to glue a piece of foam or leather under the tail piece to keep it from rattling on the top.

    Don't give up on it yet. Resonators are different instruments - enjoy the differences.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2020
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  15. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    That is so cool. Congrats!

    I've never even picked up a resonator.
     
  16. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Tfarny, one more thought. There has to be a way to access the neck stick. They weld (actually braze) the body all together, plate it and then fit the neck. Does the screw that holds the tail piece on go into the end of the stick? I think there might be a block of wood there on tricones that my duolian doesn't have.
     
  17. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    @Freeman Keller I really appreciate your insight. I can't see how to access the neck without removing the "pan" (I'm calling it) and it is definitely welded on. I would not be surprised if there is a simple solution, but I can't see it.
     

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  18. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Pretty much what I expected to see. There is a small screw in the center of the cone well that goes into the stick and I'm betting that the tailpiece screw goes into some sort of block of wood at that end (shine a flashlight down there, use a little inspection mirror. There are usually 2 or 4 screws lurking under the dot on the fretboard extension up around frets 16 or so. The only way I've been able to get them out is with the tip of an Xacto knife.

    Once the neck and stick are loose it should pull out thru the neck block. Once it is loose try changing the angle, you might have to shim some parts of it or maybe move those mushrooms a bit. Can't really tell you without seeing it but I think you'll figure it out. Leave the screws out of the fretboard extension until you get the angle right, then make a very thin shim to slip under it to maintain a straight line all the way down the frets. You have a truss rod in this (many don't) so you can set relief as normal but its the angle of the neck that sets the action.

    Good luck, report back. I'm going to play mine tonight.....
     
  19. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    Update time:
    I tried to give the neck reset a bit of a go, but I guess you could say I chickened out. I see where the screws under the fretboard marker dots probably are, but I couldn't pry them loose easily. Plus one of the screws attaching the neck stick to the pan was completely stripped. In the end I just decided it was above my pay grade. So I put it back together and did some sanding on the underside of the maple saddle - that dropped the action down a little bit. I could probably sand some more off. For now it is really a slide guitar. Either I'll keep it like this or take it in to a local shop I know. If do decide to make it more fret-friendly I will also need to think about addressing the intonation and I have no idea how you do that with a tricone either. It still sounds fantastic and is a fun addition to the pile anyways.
     
  20. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    It would be helpful if you took all the measurements and posted them. Where the fret plane hits the bridge, how much relief, first and 12th fret action. How deep are the string slots in the saddle? Does your guitar have an adjustable truss rod? What gauge strings are you using?

    How bad it the intonation (how many cents sharp)? Where is the break point of the saddle relative to the scale length? Remember that intonation improves as you lower the action.
     
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