Hello Fred and Michael, Yes, I agree entirely. I have seen a number of these that do seem to exhibit slight differences. In this case, the single button is in a slightly different place and, for some reason, this one doesn't have the correct Supro logo for the time, it seems to use the lap steel decal logo. These only ever appear under the strings on the wide wooden solid lap steels from this time. Otherwise, it seems to be a nice condition Avalon from the Chicago B series 1936/8.
Hi Alibop Firstly you're correct about the instrument - an AVALON from around 1938. The Supro headstock badge was often not used on these instruments because of the two branded knobs on the control plate. You got me interested in checking all the serial number lists for instances of "FS" marks. In all we only have 10 instruments known across the entire range of Nationals: These are: 2626FS Sq Nk Style 4 Triplate 3295WFS 12 fret walnut Triolian 1067FS 14 fret Triolian 3787FS 14 fret Triolian C8847FS 14 fret Duolian C9500FS 14 fret Duolian 2058FS Rosita 6586FS Rosita
Your instrument, of course, is listed in the late 30s Chicago A,B and C series. In this series we also have B1979FS Silvo Mandolin C4123FS Aragon.
I'm sure you're right about "FS" meaning Factory second although, after around 80 years, it will be difficult to assess why it would be a second. Certainly, any scratches or flaws in a perfect factory finish will long ago have disappeared under the wear and tear of 8 decades.
There is another interesting addition to this discussion. There is at least one 12 fret Duolian that has its number stamped as C420-2 which may also indicate a "2nd". There is also a run of 14 fret Style 0s listed as S5562 2D S5785 2D S5958 2D S6025 2D I'm also guessing that this also means "2nd" That's about as definitive as I can give you!!
Am I missing something? This is a 14 fret body so it's not an El Trovador. Not even sure it's a Trojan. I know you can't see the whole of the neck to count them but there are only 5 frets visible on the body top not the 7 you would see on a Trovador.This is also true of the Kay Ampliphonic, which you quite rightly suggest is an identical instrument to the Trovador with cheaper hardware and cone.
The tailpiece on this looks chinese to me. It is certainly not a vintage National one. The coverplate I suspect is also Asian because the ribs are too wide and indistinct and it has striaght, not curved, sides to the flaps holding the handrest on. Can't see the headstock but The body MAY be a small bodied Trojan from around 1938/9. The curves don't look quite right but it's very close. If this is the case it should have a flat headstock with a rounded central bump in it
Not much to say really, I'm just as confused as everyone else. It could be everything everybody has imagined. We've even seen the factory double striking numbers to test them. Maybe the two "1"'s ?? Could the 2831 part be a mis-reading of 2031?? I don't think any of this is date related as Pickersditch mentions nor is it patent number related. That is not where this information would be noted and it would not be specifically numbered to an instrument As snakehips says, it is late for a Variation 2 by around 80 or so numbers. However, this is why I'm always vague when it comes to "switchover" periods. National did not stop doing something at 11.59am and start something new at 12.00pm!!!! The 14 fret body changeover took an immense amount of time. First the odd 14, then a lot of 12s again, then a few more 14s, less 12s. Finally all 14s.
The bottom line is that this is a perfectly standard Style 0, late variation 2, around the end of 1930, numbered S2031.
I think this can go in to the "oddities" collection with Marshcat's round neck Triplate - number "1" Style 0 "Lighning Bolt" - A12 Wooden Triolians - sunburst 1753W & 1772W The Style O numbered X116 The two identical Dons numbered X17 My wooden Triolian tenor guitar - 01B National El Trovador - 1002 National Havana - S42 14 fret Style 0 - D188 14 fret Collegian - D515 Square neck 14 fret Duolian - G9695 etc,,..etc...etc....etc....
Last Edit: Aug 12, 2017 11:53:53 GMT by Mark Makin
Hi Tone Norma guitars were generally very bad quality, inexpensive beginners' acoustics and electric solid bodies. The Ensenadas seemed to be predominantly classical guitars and bad copies of things like Gibson Dreadnoughts such as Doves and Hummingbirds. The only resonator I can find was a Dreadnought shaped Dobro with screen holes and spider. It was branded as a National "REPRO". I wouldn't waste my time actively going out looking for any of them Tone!! Best M
Hi Fred After the sale of Valco in 1968, the National brand name became Japanese owned. Instruments were made in Japan and marketed back into the US, under the brand names of 'National', 'Ensenada' and 'Norma' through the early 1970s by the "Strum & Drum" company of Wheeling, Illinois. Strum & Drum and also the National name later fell under the ownership of Bill Kaman (Ovation instruments). It is from here that it went to Don Young.
Last Edit: Jun 29, 2017 13:17:52 GMT by Mark Makin
Hi Alexandre I discussed this on the "Palm Trees, Senoritas...etc" facebook page back in January. Yes, Marc Schoenberger and Anne Dopyera and I discussed it being a "probable" Elizabeth Dopyera early version. We obviously can't ever be sure but it fits the bill, date wise Best Mark
That Aragon belongs/ed to Mike Dowling. It is one of 15 we know in existence. Probably as many as 50 might have been made but more than likely less than that. The one you can see in the film (with the stripped coverplate) is probably one of the first made. I say that because it has groups of 5 slots making up the coverplate design. All other known Aragons have groups of 3 slots (obviously much less work!). These slots were painstakingly all cut by hand and probably resulted in the rather common (but wrong) story that ...."MOST wooden coverplates broke and were replaced with metal Collegian plates". In actuality - of the 15 guitars we know of, only ONE of them has a metal replacement plate. That is the one pictured in Brozman's book. All the others have perfect plates.
I received an email this morning from Susan Dopyera in Hempstead (North West Houston) in Texas and it is with great sadness that I have to report the death of Emil Dopyera Junior at his home on November 26 last.
Emil is really the last link with the factories of National Dobro and OMI.
Emil was the son of Emil (Ed) Dopyera and his wife Harriet and was born in 1932. As a baby he moved to Chicago with the National Factory when it relocated there in 1935. By his early 20s, he was working with his father on various guitar related projects. They devised what would become the "Zorko" bass, later to be taken over and marketed by Ampeg. It was a fibreglass, stand up, electric bass. Never too successful, it suffered from problems in the curing of the fibreglass which created unpleasant fumes. In the late 1950s, he was responsible for the development of the much -loved solid bodied "Student Resophonic" guitars. These are the small, Les Paul shaped acoustic resonator instruments, much like a "travel" resonator guitar. They appeared in pearl covered finishes as well as red black and white. They are still much sought after. In the late 1950s, Emil Snr, and Rudy were again beginning to market Dobros from their small shop in El Monte, California. Emil Junior at this time, went off to work for the Carnation Company, then Lockheed Missiles and Space Division and then on to Avco in Tulsa Oklahoma. Emil Junior was not yet finished with the music business however. It was he that secured the financial backing to start the Gardena plant for Dobro which would eventually become the Original Musical Instrument Company (OMI). When the facility was opened, Emil Junior, Emil Senior, Rudy and Clyde Wynant became the four Directors. They produced 25 Dobros a day with a staff of 25. Emil Junior later said that problems in finishing these early guitars got so bad that it resulted in selling the company to Mosrite. Emil Junior took on the responsibility of transferring the production from Dobro to Mosrite. By the early 1970s, he became a manager working for CBS Fender Instruments. Later he and his wife Susan moved to Houston, where until now they enjoyed a happy retirement, travelling the world and sailing boats.
I would like to send my heartfelt condolences to Susan and the rest of the family.
Hi Noah The tuners used on most of the later versions of these (with the six sided metal tuning buttons)were called "Tune-rites" made by Harmony. They appear on National Silver Tenor guitars as well. The obvious 'similar' competitor at the time was the Grover "Sta-Tite" gear used on high end Martins, Nationals etc.
I have been trying to find a set of Harmony Tune-Rites for over a Year! Best Mark
Hi Noah That's quite something. I suppose all these instruments have prototypes hiding somewhere. Nothing ever falls from the sky fully formed!! I think your first assumptions about it are really good. I look forward to further details and pics. Best Mark
Hi Fred Looks to be a standard Hollywood Schireson construction with (I should imagine) upturned bowl resonator with long stick bridge in the middle. It is, however, metal - certainly the only one I've seen!!