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1941 National New Yorker Spanish

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Serial #: 436G, plaque on headstock

Body size at lower bout: 15 1/2" Scale length: 25 1/4" Nut width: 1 11/16" Neck depth, 1st/10th frets: .92/1.15

Materials: Adirondack spruce laminate soundboard; arched tiger flame maple back and sides; solid one piece maple neck with solid ebony fingerboard; bound body and fingerboard.

Hardware: Original nickel hardware includes National logo enclosed tuners, single coil pickup with adjustable polepieces, trapeze tailpiece, brown Bakelite volume and tone controls, 5/8" Switchcraft jack, adjustable ebony bridge, 2 ply laminate Bakelite pickguard.

Notes: So who exactly did play in the house band at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo?

The companion to National's art deco New Yorker Hawaiian steel guitar, the Electric Spanish was one of the earliest electric round neck guitars ever offered to the public, making its debut in the summer of 1935, beating Gibson's ES-150 'Charlie Christian' model to the market by well over a year. By 1940, Gibson had also equipped the ES-150 with a metal covered pickup in the bridge position, with adjustable screw polepieces, similar to the one shown here.

To deter the chronic problem of feedback, National pioneered a soundboard without f-holes, an innovation unmatched until he early 1960's, when Gretsch painted the soundholes on its 6120 Chet Atkins model. The body of the New Yorker is also deeper than the Gibson, and tapered from 3 1/2" at the heel, to a full 4" at the endpin. Most strikingly, the back and sides are crafted from uncommonly intense tiger flame maple, strikingly similar to the spectacular batches of laminate that Gibson used on its first blonde L-7 and L-4 models of this era.

This rare example has been maintained in stellar condition, with all original finish and hardware, including the National logo "valve cover' tuner enclosures, and brown Bakelite control knobs. The original 5/8" screw-on jack is mounted on the lower bass side, away from the player's arm, and supplied with an adapter for any ordinary 1/4" guitar cable. At just 6lb 6oz, the guitar is nicely light in weight as well, with all original binding tight to the body. The neck has a full prewar C profile, and the solid ebony fingerboard has fine recent fretwork, with smooth low action over a fresh high precision setup.

The tone is sweet and mellow, from Goodman style swing to the blues of Memphis Minnie, who famously championed her sunburst model on many classic recordings. The enhanced scale length, slightly longer than the ES-150, adds snap and punch, in a body size that sits very comfortably on the lap or the strap. A final plus is the lovely original plushlined hardshell case, with its handsome mint green lining.

Oh yes, and the case still has a sticker from the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo attached to its lid. And because this distinctive instrument was presumably built not long before the Pearl Harbor attack in December of that fateful year, there may well be quite an interesting story there too. Did it serenade the Emperor at an afternoon tea dance? Did it survive the fire bombing of the ancient city by Doolittle's Raiders? One can only imagine...

A rare, innovative, and pioneering instrument from the very dawn of the modern electric guitar. One only, call now.

Setup: Bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge radius inspected and recurved as necessary; bridgewheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.

This instrument is strung with medium gauge nickel roundwound strings. The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 4/64" to 5/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.





































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