This is the place to ask Michael Messer and other forum members questions relating to National, Dobro and other resophonic musical instruments. Also questions and comments relating to National, Dobro, Supro, Valco amplifiers. No commercial advertising. To ask Mark Makin questions about anything in the Palm Trees, Senoritas & Rocket Ships thread, start a new thread in National Avenue
Nope, not the steels. Not the Spanish guitars, either. I present two of the most obscure National electric models, the New Yorker Mandolin and Tenor-Banjo:
I picked up the mandolin a couple of years ago, but I just received the banjo yesterday. Both of them play & sound great, but neither is completely original. Both tailpieces snapped, were poorly soldered, and snapped again; the mandolin sports a reissue tailpiece and I have another (more appropriate one) on order for the banjo. The mandolin has had a neck reset and a replacement bridge, and the banjo's tone control is disconnected, but the pickups still work. Both instruments have the same complex internal structure as my Sonora (and, I assume, New Yorker Spanish guitars), complete with posts supporting the top and a banjo-esque method of securing the necks.
Although electric mandolins and tenors never sold in large numbers (either by National or any of their competition), these are actually excellent-sounding instruments that play quite nicely. The tenor's neck is straight as an arrow and the mandolin only has a tiny bit of relief. The adjustable poles are a godsend, since these types of instruments usually have poor string balance when electrified. Both have very good sustain, but not so much that they sound like solidbodies. The tenor, particularly through an overdriven amp, really screams.
My Tricone is also from that era, when everything moved to Chicago it was a massive era of transition, electricity was in the air (and in instruments) I wonder if National did the woodwork or was it Harmony or Kay and then assembled back at National.