2/15/2013

c.1941 National "New Yorker" Archtop Electric Guitar




Update 2014: This guitar is back in the shop for consignment -- the band that this was being used in was dissolved so now it's surplus gear for the owner. I've posted a new soundclip above so you can get a sense of it with "full treble." Note that the strings are GHS Brite Flats which sound somewhere between flatwound and roundwound strings (read: mellower, jazzier).

Oh, who doesn't love a gorgeous, buttery blonde...? ...guitar.

I could have told you by the cool covered tuner plates, but the serial number on this beauty dates it to 1941, just before WWII got hotter and heavier. This was National's main foray into the "electric Spanish" market at the time (meaning electrified "regular" guitars as opposed to lap steels) and it's certainly a winner.

My work on it included a neck reset (made easy by it's Dobro-style neck-through construction -- click here to see my "work" post on it), fret level/dress, cleaning, and full setup. I've strung it with GHS "brite flats" in gauges 50w-11 and it sings out a nice, clean, early jazz tone with these guys on it. The pickup's response is amazingly even and balanced throughout its range and it also runs "silent" since it's a humbucker construction. Output is 8.4k which drives most amps very well.


The top is press-arched solid spruce and it isn't braced in any traditional sense and is instead supported by its thicker construction and two "soundposts" below the pickup that connect it to a block on the back. This gives the instrument a hollowbody archtop jazz sort of tonality but yet cuts feedback down to the range of a modern semihollow electric guitar.


Lovely metal National badge on the bound, dark-finished headstock. Original bone nut.


Bound ebony board with pearl block inlay. Those frets also have plenty of life left, too.


Here's that cool-as-heck early humbucker design which was a staple on Nat'l electric instruments, especially their lap steels.


This rosewood, adjustable bridge is Gibson stock but is original (Nat'l used Gibson bodies and parts on some instrument so it's not that awkward to see it on a body and neck that were more than likely, in this case, made by Regal for Nat'l).


Nice tailpiece.

Note that all of those "cracks" are just finish cracks. Its' the only real "flaw" on the instrument as there are no physical cracks anywhere in the wood.


Tone and volume pots with bakelite knobs. The tone knob works in reverse from "usual!"


This pickguard is a nice-quality repro type that would normally be seen on the sunburst version of this model which is known as the "Memphis Minnie" guitar because of the same-named blues singer who made the model famous. I figured this deco-cool pickguard would be a lot more fun than the more-typical plain black one that would normally come on the blonde model. The mounting hardware is original, though.


Yeah, so, so sexy, I know...!




The back and sides are all laminate flamed maple and it looks stunning.

The neck is a big slap of hard maple with a second piece added onto the top of it under the fretboard. This is very typical on Regal-made National necks from the time and you see it a bunch on the later Nat'l resonator guitars.



You can drool if yo want to.


Check out the covered tuner plates! They've got the Nat'l logo up at the top, too.


The neck reset perfectly. Check out the factory strap button by the heel.


1941 serial number.



Tailpiece and strap button.


This old jack is just fine and fun to use. Peculiarly, it's located on the bass lower bout side. I'm including a correct cable (freshly resoldered for a good connection) for this guy with the guitar, too.


And that's not all! An original, hard, tweed case in good, road-worn (but healthy) shape? Come on! How much better does it get?


As you can tell, I'm psyched about this guitar. I don't have that many deco-cool jobs come through except for higher-end Gibson archtops, so it's nice to see something like this one ride through the shop.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a vintage acoustic guy but OMG does this guitar look the cool!