1934 National Trojan Wood-Bodied Resonator Guitar

I get deja vu with Trojans all the time, these days. For whatever reason, folks have been bringing them in a lot more often. This one came in for a bit of setup and adjustment work a few months back and, since the owner is now playing an old Triolian, he's decided to bring it here for consignment. I know that I can't handle two resonators in my stable at the same time.

Anyhow, this one dates to 1934 judging by the serial number and it's in very good health. Someone refretted it (an excellent job) and put a new nut on it in recent memory (the frets are pristine) and after doing a quick setup the other day, it was once-again ready to roll with hum-dinger playability (3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret). It'd really suit a fingerpicker quite well and the strings on it are, basically, a set of 12s tension-wise.

Harmony in Chicago made these wood bodies and necks for National -- and the Nat'l supplied the (riveted-biscuit, in this case) cone and final assembly. This one has a (luckily) straight neck, 1 11/16" nut width, and standard "long" Harmony 25 1/8" scale.

The instrument is all-original save the frets and nut. It also looks great, though there are paint-speckles here and there from sitting in someone's garage, no doubt.

While the neck is sunburst-finished poplar, the board is dyed/ebonized maple or pearwood. The dots are pearl and the frets are nice medium-to-jumbo size new ones.

I wish I'd taken a picture, but when I first worked on this I added two extra "posts" that run from the soundwell's bottom to the back of the guitar. National installed two but on these wood-bodied guitars I like to add a couple more at least to make sure the well remains stable over time (as they're simply glued to the top of the guitar).

This also usually adds a bit more punch and clarity/oomph to the tone as the well itself is a bit less "spongy" in absorbing vibrations with extra feet.

You can see the bit of "maple" showing out of the stain on the original saddle where I've compensated the B and low E strings for better intonation.

I string this style of tailpiece with the ends running under the "lip" of the front of the tail. This keeps the strings from randomly buzzing in the drilled second set of holes on that front edge (which they sometimes do if they sit "just so").

The back shows lots of wear and tear and two small splotches of moisture "blush" in the finish.

Despite being relatively easy to reset a Nat'l neck (this one is doweled rather than set), this one didn't need it -- the angle and action were good when it first came in.

An old classical guitar case comes with the guitar, though it's only really useful for storage unless the future owner is willing to add a new handle and a couple of new latches. It's a cool case, though, for sure!


Art 'Dreco said...

Hi Jake, I have a '34 that looks just like it. Thanks for the tip on stringing below the holes, I have had a problem getting the strings into the holes, and now I know where the string buzz is coming from! So would you recommend using 12s on it? I had been stringing heavier for slide playing, but with the string buzz have been playing slide on my Triolian.
It's hard to resist the Nationals....

Jake Wildwood said...

Use whatever you like on these as long as the neck doesn't deflect under tension. 12s are a good place to start -- if it seems to be warping at all, back it off -- if it seems stable, go heavier. I think for slide something like 12s with a 13/17 on the top end would suit granted action is about average.