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
I have searched far and wide and this forum seems to be the most sensible and the one that keeps coming up!
My story is this:
I have just got my hands on a terribly abused Regal/Dobro (I have never even played a reso before) which through various sites' info I believe to be a steel M32. It has no serial number or transfer, but my guess is between '36-'40. It has the solid headstock, 14th fret join, gold body, lugged cone/#14 short spider and the fiddle edge with original tailpiece.
I shudder to traumatise anyone with the condition it was in but if I say there was a lot of 2-part filler inside the body cavity, around the resonator and tailpiece. The body, cover plate, neck and tailpiece had been badly slapped with black and gold paint and varnish, and the Kluson tuning pegs (3-on a strip but still working) were badly sprayed gold too, I think you get the idea - collector piece it ain't! Thankfully the body and neck are structurally sound.
So these are my challenges: After removing all the epoxy filler I am restoring the sanded neck with stain and tru oil (coming along nicely), and I want it refretted as I would say they are the originals and look like someone has been at them with a file! There are also a few divots around the first few frets suggesting a lot of open G or chords of C over the years. I will have the body and coverplate gently blasted and resprayed in the original colour of gold, but I don't know what to do with the cone and spider/cover.
The cone has signs of being over-tightened but I have a mad dream of trying to have a panel-beater look at it (expensive) or try and undo the dents and kinks myself (worth a careful try) to keep it original. I haven't found one on sale online yet. The #14 spider (are #14 always short?) would be fine if someone had not ground down the bridge retaining section and literally stuck on (badly, with 2-part!) a Gibbo-type bridge (I know, I know.....). I could buy a new cone and long spider but I am worried this will affect the height under the cover plate and lead to more problems....
Sorry about the long post but I will get such great pleasure when I get this baby back in playable condition. I will try and post pics in a bit.
Morning, or should I say bonjour, everyone! Sorry I haven't responded but I think I hadn't been receiving notifications after a computer change and the guitar has been lying in parts in a cupboard. Big thanks to Chris who sorted me with the necessary parts. :-)
I can't believe it has taken so long since I first posted. Somehow I never quite had the opportunity to get to Paris but yesterday I went to meet Mike Lewis at his lovely workshop.
What a nice man. He seemed very happy to see my axe as he explained he had seen many hundreds of Nationals over the years but relatively few Dobros. He has no major concerns with the condition of mine and even believes he can get away with using the original lugged cone,despite its crinkles, etc.
I don't think I mentioned that shopping around, quotes for sandblasting and repainting were so pricy that I gave up. With elbow grease, steel wool and Nitromors, the paint was all removed easily in about 45mins. I'm going for a plain steel look.
I played a couple of his beautiful guitars to assess string gauges, going w 12-52. We chatted for a while about the mysteries of these instruments then, as the heavens had opened, he even dropped me back at the Métro station. Excellent stuff.
He will start my project in a month and I will come back to a beautiful guitar that I can finally start to discover.
Yes, maybe I misunderstood him. I was surprised how lovely his guitars were - if only I were loaded!
I am very optimistic about the outcome, and he was very positive which is reassuring for a customer. It is going to be a real pleasure resurrecting this instrument and I will try asking the original seller (who knew nothing about guitars) about how it ended up in south London. Can't be that many in the UK.
Mike Lewis has now corrected the poor neck angle, refretted and also discovered that my guitar is the longer 636mm scale length, rather than 626, so the offset Beard spider is not suitable (I'll be selling it later). Also managed to save the original pressed lugged cone, so ditto selling my other cones (one is an oldie spun job).
Now he has soldered and threaded fittings for the new correct coverplate screws, as opposed to the horrible oversized self-tappers that had been there.
This guitar has suffered, but no more!
I'll post a pic if I can remember how...
Last Edit: Mar 14, 2020 13:08:36 GMT by pledge: Grammar
Under the chrome screen hole covers is there evidence of the cross hairs that are usually there as it looks now (aside from the tailpiece) it resembles one the Don Young Smith & Young metal bodied resonators. Like every one at the moment you will have to be patient and wait until the travel bans are lifted. Unless you are wealthy you could pop over on a private jet, I say that because I work under the flight path to a significant airport in the UK that is largely private jets and it is busier than usual !!!
Ha ha! No, I am not rich and especially now we appear to be in proper lockdown, I'm going to be really struggling.
However.... yes, you are the first to point out the crosshairs are missing. Some idiot cut or bent them under- the evidence is there. Maybe they had a problem with crosses. Another intriguing aspect to this guitar.