National Model 1200 Tube Amplifier (1948)

National  Model 1200 Tube Amplifier (1948)
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Item # 11438
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National Model 1200 Model Tube Amplifier (1948), made in Chicago, serial # V-10049.

This very attractive high-end, just post-war amplifier was built by Valco and sold under the National brand. It was one of the top professional models in their 1949 catalog, at a time when National was still considered a prestige brand. The Model 1200 was in the same professional price class as Gibson, Rickenbacker or Vega offered and in the same price range. While not the most powerful amp of its time, it was just shy of National's slightly more powerful 1205 "Professional" model, featuring more 6L6 tubes.

Exactly what did the ambitious musician of 1949 get besides great looks on the bandstand? The Model 1200 features a push-pull 6L6 design, putting out around 18 watts into a 12-inch field-coil speaker. It has two channels, one for instruments and one with higher gain intended for microphones and as a single master tone control. The microphone channel especially can provide some really nice saturated overdrive and the instrument channel offers beautiful warm clean tones one would expect from a 1940s tube amplifier.
Height is 20 1/2 in. (52.1 cm.), 18 in. (45.7 cm.) width, and 9 in. (22.9 cm.) deep.

This Model 1200 example is in very nice condition overall. Externally it is very clean; there is a bit of light wear around the corners and edges, but the natural variance in the wooden black/grey faux-leather finish has kept this amp looking sharp, even over 70 years later. The golden grille cloth appears original and is in terrific shape, taut, with no notable tearing or fraying. The control plate is very clean with minimal scratches and all the lettering is intact. The handle is an older replacement.

Electrically all the major components appear original including the 12" Stromberg field-coil speaker, which has been reconed professionally and sounds great. The output transformer bears the code 55001. The amp has had our standard routine maintenance, it been fitted with a grounded 3-prong power cord, the sockets, pots and jacks have been cleaned and all electrolytic capacitors replaced. It has been biased to spec.

The sound is warm and wooly, with a very pleasant and articulate midrange, which is less common with the Gibson contemporaries of the era. This is a fine and superbly preserved example of this excellent post-war 1940s amplifier, just about the finest that Valco offered and really one of the best of its era. Excellent Condition.