National Model 1155E Acoustic-Electric Guitar (1956)

National  Model 1155E Acoustic-Electric Guitar  (1956)
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Item # 8875
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National Model 1155E Model Acoustic-Electric Guitar (1956), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # X-59931, sunburst top, natural back and sides finish, Spruce Top, Mahogany Back and Sides, Mahogany Neck, Rosewood Fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

This rather flashy-looking electrified flat-top guitar is a product of both Gibson and National/Valco, the result of the complex intertwining of these two companies with the CMI (Chicago Musical Instrument) empire in the 1940s and '50s. CMI owned Gibson outright, but also acted as the exclusive distributor for Valco's National brand. As Valco did not operate a high-quality wood shop, a deal was struck for them to purchase Gibson-made acoustic guitar bodies "in the white" (unfinished) for their better grade instruments to be fitted out with National necks and hardware.

This Jumbo flat-top Model 1155E is built using a Gibson J-45/J-50 body with the neck block bearing a Gibson Factory order number of W1480-6 indicating fabrication in 1955. The bolt-on National "Stylist" heelless neck and all hardware were fitted by Valco who finished out the guitar which was then sold by CMI sometime in 1956.

The neck itself is somewhat slimmer than earlier Valco-made examples, with a relatively shallow profile and just a hint of a "V". The headstock is covered in black plastic with a cream plastic "National" logo fitted. The hex-nut adjustable neck/body joint is covered by a screwed-on cream plastic heel plate retained by the strap button.

The pickguard is a translucent "leopard striped" celluloid peculiar to National, which gives the guitar a typically 1950s "Populuxe" tinge. The triple-bound sunburst top has a look a bit less artful if more dramatic than the period Gibson style and the heavy rosewood bridge has a point on the bottom end and four large securing screws left in plain sight (Gibson covered theirs with pearl dots!).

The electrified "E" model is somewhat rarer than the straight acoustic version and carries a National single-coil pickup mounted under the end of the fingerboard with pole pieces peeking through the rosewood. The tone and volume controls are mounted on the side above the neck. These are very good-sounding guitars -- especially when plugged in -- with a funky sound and distinct "retro-cool" look rather different the typical Gibson. Combining the Gibson and National aesthetics, the 1155E is a singular creation of this somewhat oddball marriage of two '50's guitar greats .
Overall length is 40 1/2 in. (102.9 cm.), 16 5/16 in. (41.4 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 3/4 in. (12.1 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 25 in. (635 mm.). Width of nut is 1 9/16 in. (40 mm.).

This is a very nice all-original 1155E showing some general light wear and repair. Overall the finish is relatively clean with great color to the sunburst, showing very little fade. There are a number of dings, dents, and scrapes, but no major areas of wear. There are two spots on the side just below the neck joint that look like cigarette burn marks. There are several repaired grain cracks to the mahogany back but the top is nicely crack-free.

The binding appears to have been re-glued on the lower treble side waist. The celluloid pickguard has no deterioration but looks like it was re-glued at some point. The saddle has a small repaired chip between the low E and A strings that does not affect play. The back of the neck has a number of small dings and dents and one spot of minor finish melt behind the 9th fret. Everything is original, the frets have minimal wear, the electronics work fine and this is a fine playing and sounding example of this cool if somewhat eccentric guitar. Excellent Condition.