View Full Version : National Resophonic Tenor- Serial #s

Will Patton
Sep-23-2010, 11:56am
Does anyone know of a listing of serial #s for National Reso-tenors with corresponding years of production? Can't seem to find anything on the internets closer than "1928-1934" - maybe that's all that's available.
Trying to date my steel tenor, #1103, body at the 14th fret. - I've tuned it as an octave mando. Love this thing!

Sep-23-2010, 12:42pm
You could try emailing Bob Brozman. I know he was working on a serial number archive years ago (that might be what you're finding online). It might even be in his book, but I'm not sure if it covers tenors.

Jim Garber
Sep-23-2010, 10:06pm
I have Brozman's book and there is a detailed explanation of how the serial numbers work. Essentially there are different series for different instruments. However, in my book 1993, there is a number of lists which might include your tenor. The question is, is it German silver one or a triolian or what. Pages 268-269 list German silver tenors and plectrums and yours would come in around 1932-33. Pear-shaped tenors triolians on page 277: yours would be 1930. So it would be one or the other.

BTW what gauges strings or what set do you use to tune it to octave. I have a late 1920s pear-shaped silver #1. I would love to tune it to octave.

Sep-24-2010, 12:53am
Jim has it right - if it's a Triolian you've got a 1930 model. Hard to believe, but this has come up before, notably at this thread (http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?54313). At that time I mused thusly:

The serial numbers go from 1-1800 in 1930, then end at 3350 in 1934. I wonder if they made a bunch that first year, they didn't sell as well as they had hoped, and then started using up previously machined parts, even as early as that second year. Or was there some other reason they switched over?

Good resources are http://www.tenorguitar.com/ and http://www.vintagetenorguitars.com/ - the latter is Steven Pyott's website, and he has an amazing collection. Write him at steve@vintagetenorguitars.com - he seems like a real cool guy and very knowledgeable about these things. :cool: There is also ye olde provide.net - http://home.provide.net/~cfh/national.html which has serial number ranges for all styles, and for some great pics of all kinds of steel guitars http://www.notecannons.com/.

Sep-24-2010, 12:03pm
I string mine 10/11 s for the high E, 17 for the A, 34ish for the D and 44 ish for the G, an octave below the mandolin - phosphor bronze for the low two. that gives me a nice ringy high end and a growly thump on the D and G. I don't like them too heavy as it could condense the sound and lose the gorgeous ring that the tricones have. Mine is a 1928 style 1. i also have a single cone guitar shaped tenor and use the same weights.
I hope that's of some help. You can hear it on this thread here a bit crudely ....


Kevin Macleod

Jim Garber
Sep-24-2010, 1:25pm
Thanks, Kevin... wow a '28 tricone must be amazing. I like my pearshaped style 1 but my friend's guitar-shaped one is even better.

Will Patton
Sep-26-2010, 10:49am

Hey Jim -
I use 42 - 33 - 23 - 13 altho this is more a function of having them around then careful testing of gauges....
Looks like my girl is a 1930 Triolian - looks just like this pic that I appropriated from Jim Richter's post a while back.
Thanks all for the help~

Dec-09-2010, 8:32pm
From first hand experience I can say that your Trolian sounds awesome- perhaps due to the way you play it! Martha

Dec-10-2010, 5:32am
Jim - here is my 1928 National tenor tricone in action, if you're interested.


There's a couple more clips on vimeo

Kevin Macleod

Dec-11-2010, 3:01pm
.... and the last one .....