11/04/2014

1950 National & Gibson 1145 Carved-top Guitar




National-branded acoustics have always been a mixed product. Some were wholly made out of shop while others were half and half with National necks added to them. This is the latter type and it has a wonderfully-designed National adjustable neck mounted to what's essentially a Gibson L-48 or L-50 carved-top body. National retained the 24 3/4" Gibson scale length and a similar neck shape which means that while this is a hybrid build it's also very Gibson-y in tone and feel. I absolutely love the mix.

Tone is thunderous, projecting, loud, crisp and clear with a velvety bottom. It's like something between a traditional crunchy, creamy Gibson bottom end and the snappy, loud carved-top Epiphone top end. Whether this is because it's got the maple Nat'l neck and associated hardware or whether it's because I could get the back-angle on the neck nice and steep or whether it's because Gibsons from this era might have had slightly different top carving... who knows? But it does what it does well: this guitar is clear, loud, focused, and rich. I wouldn't see it having any trouble in a big group situation cutting through like a resonator.


The top is solid spruce while the back and sides are laminate (plain) maple. The neck is maple and both the board and bridge are rosewood. The body is Gibson's standard 3" depth, 16" wide archtop specs.

Work included a fret level/dress, much cleaning, neck adjustment, tuner replacement (I used vintage Klusons to replace vintage Klusons that were shot), replacement tailpiece, and replacement bridge. I also set it up, of course.


I love the black headstock veneer with the Nat'l logo plate. Original bone nut, also, with a 1 11/16" width.


The board is radiused and has pearl dots and side dots. The frets are smallish like on 30s and 40s Gibsons and Nat'l electrics from the 50s/60s.


The "new" bridge is a 1930s rosewood base and adjusters from my parts bin with a new rosewood topper I made for it.


Because the rest of the hardware is nickel-plated I used a nickel-plated Japanese Kluson lookalike from my parts bin to match.


The Gibson-cut f-holes are a nice feature to find on this guitar. Often, Gibson would replace their f-hole design with the Kalamazoo-style design for "other brand" guitars. These just look classier.


I replaced tack-nails on the nameplate and serial plate at the headstock with tiny screws because I can't stand the nails coming loose and trying to figure out where that weird rattle on your guitar is coming from.



The tobacco-burst is followed to the back, sides, and neck and you can see the usual Gibson weatherchecking throughout the guitar.


The covered tuners are a cool thing to have.


How about that for fret access? Not having to deal with a heel actually makes playing up the neck a breeze.


The V-prefix with associated number date this right to 1950.


Can't complain about aesthetics...




I'll admit that the tail isn't perfect but it's as close as I could get with the decent vintage parts on hand. I kinda want to stick a funny picture in the strap-button hole.


Here's the neck angle adjuster: two adjustment screws on the top edge for back-angle and left/right alignment at the top, one big "tension/neck set" screw and one on the bottom for bottom back-angle adjustment. This is the coolest thing ever from a repairman's point of view. And...


...the neck is perfectly straight probably thanks to the absolutely giant non-adjustable steel truss in the neck. See that grey bit where the nut should be? That's steel, my friends. Sheesh!

1 comment:

Chris Till said...

Just scored one of these in Washington Court House, Ohio, hometown of Sam Lucas, the renowned 19th Century minstrel and songwriter. Once again, thanks to your awesome blog, I was not afraid to mess with the funky neck adjustment hardware. My neck hardware still has an old Valco patent sticker on it. Plus, the cover to my neck adjustment hardware is a cream Bakelite semi-trapezoid piece. And mine has bound f-holes. Keep it up!