Royal Aire Lap Steel Electric Guitar, made by National (1948)

Royal Aire Lap Steel Electric Guitar, made by National  (1948)
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Item # 10356
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Royal Aire Model Lap Steel Electric Guitar, made by National (1948), made in Chicago, serial # V-8973, two tone green lacquer finish, maple body, plastic facing, black chipboard case.

This supremely stylish lap steel is an interesting off-brand oddity from the often colorful just-postwar era at Valco. It is branded "Royal Aire", a jobber (or retailer) label variant of the classic period National Dynamic that is not only striking to look at but great sounding as well. The sculpted wooden body and neck are finished in an early space-age two-tone metallic green lacquer, with silver-packed Lucite control panels and the Valco's patented colorful etched phenolic fingerboard. This has the positions marked by a stairstep pattern accented by differently colored geometric shapes. The pickup is the standard Valco unit mounted under a clear plastic handrest.

The headstock mounts a pinned-on metal plate displaying the "Royal Aire" brand plate, the Kluson tuners are covered with national-branded oblong stamped metal plates, which are mounted (for some reason) upside down. The tone and volume knobs are different styles (the volume round and tone "Chicken head") but both examples of this model we have seen use this same mix so we believe it to be factory. The "Royal Aire" brand is a rare National variation, seen only in this late '40s/early '50s period and this is a super cool steel by any name.
Overall length is 32 in. (81.3 cm.), 7 in. (17.8 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 23 in. (584 mm.). Width of nut is 2 in. (51 mm.).

This steel remains in nicely all original condition with some fairly light wear. The finish has some chips and dings, mostly on the sharp edges with the most loss at the ends of the head and body. All hardware is original and undamaged; the screws holding on the tuner covers appear more recent and one of the tailpiece screws is somewhat hogged out. This is a great-sounding, sharp looking steel. It includes a recent heavy chipboard case and well-made gig-worthy Amphenol cord. Overall Excellent Condition.