National Duolian Resophonic Guitar (1937)

National  Duolian Resophonic Guitar  (1937)
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Item # 10519
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National Duolian Model Resophonic Guitar (1937), made in Chicago, serial # A2269, woodgrain re- finish, steel body, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, black hard shell case.

This is a player-grade example of an original 14-fret National Duolian, with a bit of a checkered life behind it but retaining a good and quite powerful sound. It has been hand-painted (it looks like many decades ago) with a reproduction of the woodgrain finish National was using as the time. This was done with a certain amount of artistic enthusiasm and actually looks pretty good, if not 100% authentic. The neck retains the original stain but has had a later overcoating; the original decal has survived. The result is a cool and funky blues machine that can be played hard and not babied!

By the time this guitar was made in 1937 National had merged with Dobro and relocated in Chicago, having forsaken sunny Los Angeles to be closer to the heart of the music industry. These later Midwest-made Duolians have a shorter body with rolled in F-holes, somewhat sturdier than earlier versions.

The fairly chunky neck has a deep "soft V" profile and it is topped with a solid headstock in place of the old slot-head variety. It also mounts a genuine rosewood fingerboard, a big improvement over the older "ebonized" boards of the early 1930's. These 14-fret Nationals tend towards a powerful and punchy tone, a bit less sweet and "reverby" than the earlier 12-fret examples. This one is an action set at 5/32" bass and 4/32" treble and is optimized for delta blues or other slide/fretted stylings with a low action down by the nut and enough height to make those 12th fret slide moves really sing.
Overall length is 38 3/8 in. (97.5 cm.), 14 in. (35.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 25 in. (635 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

Overall this is a good gigging example of this venerable "tin can" with a sound and feel especially suited for Delta-style blues, as it has already seen some hard times so won't mind a little banging around along the road. The body finish must have been redone many decades ago; it actually looks pretty decent and has a some accumulated wear and a sort of funky handcrafted vibe about it. The hand-applied woodgrain paint is worn down to the metal along the edges and to the mustard-colored undercoat on the coverplate and handrest, with dings, chips and scratches scattered overall. The coverplate shows wear patches where the player's fingers have worn it away, very typical for this model.

The neck finish looks like a coat of hand-applied varnish over the original stain; it has light capo wear with dings and dents all along its length but still feels good. The headstock decal has some old chipping but is now preserved under clear varnish.
The neck looks to have been reset and the fingerboard planed and refretted, with some old divots filled in the lower positions. The cone is older but we can't say it is original, although the biscuit has some age to it. The tuners are later Kluson copies and the tailpiece is original, with some typical wear. Overall not a collector piece but a funky and big-sounding Duolian with a punchy blues-approved tone and feel offering plenty of left-field vibe. Includes a vintage light-duty HSC from the 1960's. Overall Very Good Condition.