3/24/2018

1932 National Style O Resonator Guitar




This beat-up old palm-trees-etching Style O was sent in via a consignor and, yes, it does sound as warm (and yet airy) as it does in the video clip. I actually got to listen to this serenade me outside my workshop for a couple hours while a pair of pickers played old blues and folksy standards on it and another guitar while I worked. It has the goods.

When this arrived, it had no cone or biscuit, was entirely filthy, the neck angle was atrocious, and the ebonized-maple fretboard was crumbling to splinters and dust. The tuners were shot and the nut was missing, too. The bridge cover is still missing as I haven't found something I like to replace it, yet. My work included resetting the neck angle, a new rosewood board install (which I "ebonized" as well), fretting with jumbo frets on a compound radius that runs 7 1/2" to 12" from the nut to the extension, new National Reso-Phonic cone and biscuit install, new StewMac vintage-style repro tuners at the headstock, much cleaning, and a good setup. It plays beautifully despite all its quirks and the tone is loud, cutting, proud, full, and warm.

Specs are: 25" scale length, 14" lower bout width and 3 1/4" depth, 1 25/32" nut width, 1 17/32" string spacing at the nut and 2 1/8" spacing at the bridge. Action is 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret (spot-on) and it's strung with 54w-12 lights. The neck has a mild-medium D-shape with lots of wear-and-tear on its back.


There's tons of tarnish and wear on this guitar -- so if clean's your thing, ignore it.


The new nut is bone.



One quirk of this guitar is that the fretboard extension's treble side cut isn't perfectly aligned in a straight line with the rest of the neck's cut. It remains "straight" while the rest of the board continues the blooming-out taper over the body. The strings are aligned over it correctly, though. Unless I told you this, you wouldn't notice at all. I bring attention to it mostly because of the story.

How'd that happen, anyway? Well -- I traced my new board's shape from the old fretboard that was on it and then cut it out and installed it rough on the neck. When I stuck it on the guitar the next day to make sure the alignment was fine, I took my straight-edge out and then cursed the builders at Nat'l back in the day. The wear-marks all around the fretboard extension confirm my suspicion that they cut it that way in the first place, har har har.

Of more note is that I did-away with pearl dots on the extension in favor of showing the bare-bones attachment of the extension, instead. If someone wanted pearl in here instead, it'd be easy to sink those farther in and replace with pearl, however. I just like the no-frills look.





As you can see, the saddle is cut for proper compensation. Also, though I didn't show it, I always use a layer of duct-tape "gasket" to cut-down on rattle of the coverplate to the body and also to replace the oft-missing felt gasket in the bottom of the soundwell.







The new, StewMa repro tuners are a far-sight better than any of the old ones.


Note that the back of the neck has a ton of wear and indentations.








Here you can see the side dots and the band of mismatched color on the neck from trimming the fretboard's sides. It's buffed and sealed, however.


There's the '32 serial number.

1 comment:

Robert Gardner said...

Oh, mama, you rung my number... I will be stopping by to play this guy for sure. My oh my...