The last time I saw the National "Panda" for sale it was (about two years ago?) at Greg Boyd's shop in Montana -- for $9500. But I have no doubt that Mark is right -- it's probably been bought and sold since then ... maybe more than once. It sure does get around!
Advertisers over here in the States have been on a reso kick recently: G. Love played a roundneck Dobro (Model 55?) on a Coke commercial; an old bluesman (didn't recognize him) played a Dobro Model 19 with a slide on an ad for Subway sandwich shops; and I'm told that a new Ford commercial features someone with a National Trojan strapped on his back.
Last Edit: May 13, 2006 17:54:02 GMT by Russ Young
Post by Michael Messer on May 14, 2006 11:14:49 GMT
Good to hear from you.
So you saw the 'Panda' too! That guitar really does do the rounds. The problem is that it is not a very good guitar; it was probably the last Tricone National made, and although initially very desirable, it is not much good as a player's guitar. Really it should be in a collection, but is very overpriced.....so it continues to circulate. During the 1980s and early nineties I reckon I saw it in four shops here in England. Each time I nearly bought it.....but then backed off.
I have a feeling that due to Mark's inventive terminology; the next time we see it for sale - the advert will say "NATIONAL PANDA TRICONE FOR SALE". And if it doesn't, we should contact the vendor and put them straight!
I haven't seen the Ford advert - I'll have to watch out for that next time I visit your side of the pond. If any photos turn up we'd love to see them.
Hi Both of You I think what puts people off is that it obviously was thrown together with remaining factory parts. I believe sometime around 1940-41 someone wanted a tricone and knew a factory worker during the wartime shutdown period. A metal top was not available so a half inch thick blockboard top was knocked up and screwed in all around the edges with coverplate screws. The grills were fitted in the only way they could think of and finally an existing coverplate was thrown on (literally!! - if you look carefully - it's not even square to the strings) a real mess!
PS - It did appear in a set of fashion adverts for trendy mens casual wear in the Sunday newspapers around the late 80's - I think it was just borrowed by the photographer and dropped back at the shop. I think this guitar is gonna be a bit like the flying dutchman and travel the world - not really stopping anywhere!
I think I was the first conehead to encounter what we now must call the National 'Panda' (not to be confused with Rickenbacher Pandas). It was c.1981 that a maker/repairer I knew told me he had a National in, and would I like to see it. The crudity of its construction amazed me, and it sounded really poor compared to my recently aquired tricone. I wonder how it came to be in SE England? I never knew who owned it at that time.
Post by Michael Messer on May 18, 2006 8:08:08 GMT
Me too! I nearly bought the Frankenstein 'Panda' three times in the late 1980s >Vintage & Rare Guitars, Chandler Guitars, and Andy's Guitars. I also remember seeing it in the early 80s in Denmark Street.
Now can we return to the original subject of this thread !!!!!! (Hijacked by the Panda)
Well this thread has really gone off on one......!
Heres a thought, (or maybe a new thread). This Panda Tricone, for all its detractions and flaws, was a product of world events. It probably happened as you say because WW2 rediverted metal supplies, probably the National factory was requisitioned, like factories in this country were, and as such austerity took over, often permanently, as many factories either stopped production or did not survive into the post war years.
I love to think of some folk, sneaking in and out of the National factory, with bits of guitar, and cobbling together something, that maybe even was just a stop gap, to replace a broken or stolen instrument even. Its the story behind the story that is even more fascinating, or even the story you choose to put to it....!
On a more poignant note, I remember seeing photos of servicemen during WW2 with instruments, often guitars, either in the cramped cabins of ships or sat on tanks. I can't help thinking that given their tough nature and decent volume, metal bodied guitars would have stood up to being posted abroad and been an ideal travelling companion for musician conscripts. Maybe theres some truth in Mike Hardings view. I wonder how many steel bodied guitars went off to war with the forces, I wonder more how many, like their owners failed to return.
What interests me is how many Nationals made it into the UK early on ?
Both the National Duolian 14 fret neck ones I have seem to have been in the UK for decades. One was given to a young lad as inheritance from his grandfather and sold as he didn't play guitar. I got it from the shop - somewhere down in southampton area. My other duolian belonged to a guy in his 80's and obviously hadn't touched it in 10 years minimum - perhaps 20 or 30 years. It had sat in his garage undisturbed for that long. He was moving out of his house to go to an "old folks home" and hired a skip for his neighbour to help him empty his house of junk into. The guitar was nearly junked !! Luckily the younger neighbour thought it might be restorable and/or worth something.
Both guitars were in pretty good condition (duco paint finish wise) but both suffered from neck angle/warpage - both fixeable problems. Both had had Hawaiian nut extenders on them, so the fretboards and frets were virtually unworn !
There must have been a craze for nationals and hawaiian music in the UK at some point - in the 40's ? 50's ?
Picture of said guitars : The one on the right was the nearly junked one - it was filthy with dust and the strings were soooooo rusty _ i'd never seen strings looking so old and decrepid !! I really enjoyed opening it up and giving it a good clean.
Snakehips, there must have been a demand early on - the first resonator guitar I ever owned was a Dobro model 90 (I think - had a fancy engraved coverplate & a black ace-of-hearts-or-somesuch on the heel -cap, indicating an early, high-end model), which I bought back in 1967 off the original owner; I recall him telling me he had bought it new from Hessy's of Liverpool in 1930, when he was looking for a louder guitar for use in a dance-band, & I believe he said he paid around £35 for it - I paid him £50, & thought I was doing well when I later sold it to Giles Hedley for £75! Oy vey..
Hello Richard This is all documented. Boosey and Hawkes in London were the dealers in 1936-37. Mostly Duolians were sold in the C9400-C9500 series through these years - Nationals biggest selling years. They also sold Style 1 round necks and square necks. It took off here in the pre-war era because of Felix Mendelsonns Hawaiian Seranaders. At the same time (as RickS comments) the dealer for Dobros was Hessy's in Liverpool. During these years, the National and Dobro instruments were marketed separately around the world. National used Sears Roebuck and Dobro used Montgomery Ward. Sears had a large account in the UK and this accounts for the greater amount of Nationals rather than Dobros being found here in the UK . The reverse is true in Australia where Montgomery Ward had a large account - many Dobros(even here) are found with NSW music store labels on the cases. I believe Sears also had a large market in west Africa for Nationals. Next time you're in Nigeria - have a dig about!!!
SOME ADDITIONAL INFO. Boosey and Hawkes were selling National guitars from their 295 Regent Street Shop as early as 1930-31 using overprinted "brown" National catalogues. This also showed Style N's and Style 4's although I don't have any record of any actual instruments of these models being sold here.
In 1934 they were advertising in "Tune Times" the new Trojan and the Duolian at £7.17.6 and El Trovadors at £15 (cash!). The Triplates (round and square) were at the ludicrously expensive price of £26.5.0.