1936 National Trojan Resonator Guitar

Now that I've finished the work on this guitar, I think it's the best-sounding National Trojan I've had through the shop -- though it's the worst-looking. It's punchy, direct, loud, woody, and a fresh refret means it plays like something boutique. These bodies and necks were made by Harmony for National and the serial number with Z-prefix places it at 1936.

However, folks -- this thing was a project. A consignor of mine sent this up here for resale and when it arrived, I was frankly a little taken-aback. The lower bout was all blown-out and much of its ply was separating from creeping moisture damage. It's the classic "this guitar got wet one summer and then was stowed in the attic for 50 years" sort-of case. There were some major gains for the instrument, however, in that it has the mahogany-veneer ply on the body rather than birch, the neck was essentially straight, and the original cone was salvageable for reuse (despite someone nailing it down in the soundwell with tiny nails and scrunching-up its foot). The original coverplate was in good order, too.

Work included: repair to gouged-out sections of the fretboard in frets 1-3, a board plane and refret with jumbo/pyramid stock, repair to the cone, compensation of the original saddle, lots of clamping/repair to burst seams/sections of ply on the lower bout (both top and back), reglue of loose sections of the soundwell, a neck reset, parts-bin '60s (but retro) tuners install, extra soundposts installed to support the soundwell on the interior (they never, cleaning, and a good setup. The neck is straight and it plays with bang-on 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret, strung with 54w-12 gauges.

Scale length: 25 1/8"
Nut width: 1 11/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 1/2"
String spacing at bridge: 2"
Body length: 18 1/4"
Lower bout width: 14 1/4"
Upper bout width: 10 1/4"
Side depth at endpin: 4"
Top wood: ply mahogany
Back/sides wood: ply mahogany
Fretboard: ebonized maple with repaired sections
Bridge: maple biscuit & saddle
Cone: National (original) single cone, ridged
Neck feel: medium-to-big soft C/V shape, 14-16" compound radius on board

Condition notes: lots of missing veneer ply on the lower bout top and back, wavy ply in the same area, plenty of scratches, scuffs, dings, and damaged finish all over, missing binding at the sides of the fretboard (it'd already pretty-much worn-off and the little "ridges" that held the paper-thin binding on were deteriorated, so I just removed the remains), replacement tuners, replacement tiny hardware screws throughout (they're relic'd modern screws so have good bite), non-original strap button at the heel (I added that), and general beat-ness of the finish. The cone, bridge, coverplate, tailpiece, and nut are original.

It comes with: a funky old chip case.

The fretboard is gross-looking to begin-with as it'd seen a lot of wear and tear over time, but frets 1-3 have a surface that is mostly rosewood-and-superglue fill that's been leveled-down to match the rest of the board. Someone had gouged-out the board in that area at some point. I "antiqued" it a little to try to fit it with the rest of the guitar's look -- and I think the result is cool and add more to the instrument's story.

Above is a shot from just after I'd pulled the frets. I was wondering why the neck looked like it had a backbow with a straight-edge over the frets, and this is why! I realized that someone had sanded/hacked the surface of this area into a dished-out shape. Weird, huh?

Here you can see some of the wavy second layer of ply on the back-lower-bout. It's all glued-up and stable, now, but it definitely wasn't before.