2005 National Style N "Etched" Resonator Guitar

Update 2018: I originally worked on this for a customer in 2015, but he recently brought it in for consignment as he's moved-away from the resonator sound and into pedal steel. I've updated the blog post with a new description, new photos, and (soon) a new video clip.

I'm of the opinion that modern National Reso-Phonic products are way more suited to the average modern ears as their tonal sweep is wider than the old guys -- they have a much-expanded low-end and a little more carrying-power at the cost of a bit of high-end sparkle, chime, and snap. For fingerpickers or slide players, that means a much warmer-sounding guitar that's still loud and has bite, but doesn't get thin or zippy when dug-into. I think of the older ones as generally "airier and drier" and these as "meatier." NRP builds quality instruments with quality parts and, I think, the "new tone" has mostly to do with the fact that the bodies are thicker-gauge, heavier, and a little stiffer in construction.

When this was originally brought into me in 2015, its owner presented a guitar that was partially disassembled and had a broken seam on the lower-bout rear stretching across the flat-sided "butt" of the guitar. By then it'd also acquired plenty of the use-wear and handling-wear evident in the pictures, here. It's certainly a "player's" box.

Part of my work at the time included resoldering the broken seam as best as I could (I'm not a metal-shop) and I'm proud to say that the repaired jaggedy break along the seam has held-up 100% in use. After that was patched, I gave the frets a light level/dress job, compensated the saddle, and set it up for 56w-13 mediums per the owner's request. It's playing just as it left with a quick, easy feel and tons of power. The current setup is 3/32" EAD and a hair-under 3/32" GBE at the 12th fret. I can lower it to "on-the-dot" 1/16" for the DGBE if desired, but I like to leave Nat'ls a tiny-bit higher because the average resonator player that I've met pounds on these things and retunes half a dozen times to different slacker-tension open tunings that work better with either a hair more height at the saddle or more relief in the neck.

Specs-wise it's a pretty standard Style N with the "etched look -- it has a 25" scale with a 1 13/16" nut width. The board has a roughly-14" radius and the neck has a medium, soft-V rear profile. String spacing at the nut is 1 11/16" and it's 2 5/16" at the bridge. The lower bout is 14" across and it has 3" side depth. The neck is maple with an ebony fretboard and ivoroid binding.

A much-appreciated innovation on new Nat'ls is the removable bridge-cover/wrist-rest. Four machine screws allow easy on/off which greatly, greatly reduces the time and hassle involved in setting one of these guitars up at the bridge.

Ok, here are detail shots of the repaired seam.


Robert Gardner said…
Handsome little guitar. I really hope I have a chance to play it before it leaves home. But I know you have an older brother of this guy back in the intensive care unit awaiting more serious care. I'm waiting for that one too.