If she ain't broke....

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If she ain't broke....

Postby ricbleu » Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:52 am

I've had my Republic Triolian for a few months now. I've stripped off the swamp green and black sunburst paint job to reveal a bright steel body and a brass cover plate - both looking to have a slight patina of age, not blemished as such, just an appearance of being "well used". So far so good (and I'll get some pics up soon). A few months ago there was a thread about metal body guitars "playing in" and at the time I was a silent dissenter. I couldn't see how metals could change their sonic characteristics without heat and tempering and with the minimal stresses that playing puts on a guitar. Now I'm thinking again because my trio really does sound good. It has great sustain, bell tones through the trebles and a real growl in the bass, especially if you are playing her for that dark sound (BJ does it well). So all in all she sounds great :!: So why am I thinking of either a Stew-Mac or a National cone? I know they have their reputations, but how would I know how either one compares with my Republic cone? New cones are not cheap and I would need firm assurance that the tonal difference would be most considerable, hence my subject heading 'If she ain't broke, don't fix her' :? . I know there are a lot of you guys who have swapped cones under these circumstances, so how about it, guys? What did you find? I would appreciate any opinions based on experience or links to compare and contrast. :D Peace
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Re: If she ain't broke....

Postby gaucho » Tue Jul 17, 2012 12:41 am

I put National Hot Rod cones in my Republic Tricone. it was a waste of $130. The Continental cones are very good cones. But, I have heard that the tricones are about the same wall thickness in both the Nats and the Contis whereas the single cones Conti's are a bit thicker than the Nats. Therotically, that should make the Nats ring a bit better. If you are like me though, you won't be satisfied until you try it for yourself.
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Re: If she ain't broke....

Postby ricbleu » Tue Jul 17, 2012 9:40 pm

Well, gaucho, even if more evidence comes in to the contrary, I am going to regard your experience as a true, valid and honest test. So it's just too big a risk to "overcapitalise" the instrument without making any real improvement. I have changed machine heads of guitars both for valid mechanical and non-valid aesthetic reasons, but the outlay for those isn't as significant as a new cone for a resonator. If I had a National triolian beside my Republic, I could A/B but I haven't and I haven't got the money to import a cone just to hear if there's any improvement. So I have to rely on the experience of others. You have given me yours, gaucho - I appreciate that and until I am convinced otherwise, I remain content with what I hear from my Republic. Cheers. :D Peace.
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Re: If she ain't broke....

Postby Freeman » Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:22 pm

I changed the stock 1980 OMI cone in my Duolian for a NRP and added a Paul Norman carbon fiber biscuit at the same time. Unfortunately the fact that I did two things (plus set the neck angle, new strings and cleaned out the dust bunnies) means that it is impossible to credit improvements (or dis-improvements) to any one thing, but there was a change for the better. Also unfortunately (and very unlike me) I did not do a before/after recording so we could listen and debate whether there was an actual change. What I believe I hear might be a little sharper attack, particularly the trebles and a little more smoothness to the bass - maybe not quite as brash. It simply sounds better without loosing any of the character of a metal bodies biscuit.

Put a new Continential in my 1932 Dobro - the stock cone was crushed so really can't compare. The new one does have a sweet long sustain - it really does sing. Backing off the tension screw helps that a lot.

When I came time to build my tri cone I simply bought a set of new NRP's - I knew I could save money with Beards or some others but I knew the Nat's would be good. It is hard to evaluate the tri cone since it is wood body - the sustain is longer than the Duolian, shorter than the Dobro. The wood body kills a lot of the raspiness - if I dig in hard it still sounds pretty nasty, but played with a light touch (flesh and nails) it has almost an acoustic guitar sound. I find I can play Kottke and Allman's Little Martha and similar that you wouldn't normally do on a reso.

I'm happy with each guitar-cone combinations, and each one fits a very definite musical need. The Duolian is for delta blues - loud and in your face, the Dobro is happiest playing Ry Cooder/John Fahey stuff, and the tri cone does everything from finger picked blues to jazz.
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Re: If she ain't broke....

Postby The Breeze » Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:11 pm

If you ever have the cone out balance it on a pen or something and give it a tap. If it is flat and tinny, change cones; if it rings then you may not notice much difference with a Hot Rod. I think Len puts Continentals in his Hot Rod Steel guitars, if that is the case then they look and sound pretty good to me.
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Re: If she ain't broke....

Postby gaucho » Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:13 am

I had a Republic Resolian (biscuit cone) that I wanted to put a Hot Rod into as well (even tho it sounded great with the stock Continental). After seeing how little the Hot Rods changed the sound of my Tricone, I left the Resolian alone. That's really hard when you are an addicted tinkerer like me!
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Re: If she ain't broke....

Postby ricbleu » Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:41 am

gaucho wrote: That's really hard when you are an addicted tinkerer like me!


And me too. Already I've changed the machine heads for aesthetic reasons(StewMac three on a plate replica vintage) - very successful. And stripped the paint off leaving a time worn look also aesthetic and also very successful. But I'm not a gambling man and I don't think It's wise to push her any further given all the responses and help supplied here. So thanks, guys for passing across the knowledge and enabling me to make up my mind. :D Peace.
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