In the delta of the Mississippi River, where Robert Johnson was born, they said that if an aspiring bluesman waited by the side of a deserted country crossroads in the dark of a moonless night, then the Devil himself might come and tune his guitar, sealing a pact for the bluesman's soul and guaranteeing a lifetime of easy money, women, and fame. They said that Robert Johnson must have waited by the crossroads and gotten his guitar fine-tuned. Highway 61 intersects with Highway 49 aka the Crossroads.
The Highway 61 is a single cone resonator. It's a slightly larger version of the Parlor Resolian model with a cut away body design. There are three models, a standard 14 fret, a travel sized 12 fret, along with a Tenor model we call the Highway 49.
Parlor guitars originated from the classical guitar in the late 1800s. Parlor guitars garner their name from the fact that they were designed to be played in small intimate settings. The small size of the guitar also made it very affordable. Therefore, many musicians chose the parlor due to its affordability. In the 1930s, the parlor guitar can be heard on many blues recordings. Folk musicians also favored this instrument due to its soft and sweet sound.
Our parlor sized resolian is a single cone resonator. Although small in size, the full size cone gives it much more volume and richer sound than a traditional hollow body guitar.
During the early 20th century, acoustic guitars were used in antiquated dance orchestras and brass bands. However, the wind instruments would drown out the sound of the acoustic guitars. In 1927, Slovak luthier, John Dopyera was approached by a guitarist known as George Beauchamp with a request for a guitar loud enough to play alongside brass and wind instruments. Using 3 spun aluminum speaker cones (resonators), joined by a T-shaped aluminum bar that supports the bridge, a mechanical amplification system was created that allowed the guitar to be heard in the back row of the auditorium. From the jazz bands of the '20s, through the Hawaiian craze of the '30s, from Chicago down to the Delta, the sound of the Tricone defined an era.
As the world sank into the Great Depression of the 1930’s the tri-cone suddenly was too expensive for most musicians to afford. John Dopyera created a second model that was less expensive to produce, but every bit as loud as his original. This was the single cone model, sometimes referred to as a “biscuit cone” because of the round wooden disc that sits atop a larger, single convex cone. This model became the choice instrument for the traveling Bluesmen of that era because of their incredible volume and rugged metal bodies. Their sound is different from the Tri-cones with a sharper attack and less sustain.
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