View Full Version : National? nah

Jun-25-2008, 12:21am
This (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=250261746404) isn't a vintage National, is it?

The headstock looks one of the Chinese copies (Johnson, Recording King, et al.). I don't recall seeing a real National with a headstock of that shape.

Jun-25-2008, 5:32am
I thought as you did when I first saw this, perhaps that somebody 'distressed' a knock-off. Maybe it is fair wear and tear, but it looks too consistent, too evenly distributed. I agree with you about the headstock profile. Maybe someone else has a more definitive POV....?

I've never played a resonator mandolin, but getting one is on my 5-year MAS shopping list.


Jun-25-2008, 7:17am
The knock-off business isn't new. I'd bet that it's a knock-off of a National that dates to long enough ago to create that authentic distressing.

Jun-25-2008, 8:30am
A lot of people stripped off the paint finishes on original ones

Jun-25-2008, 10:13am
A lot of people stripped off the paint finishes on original ones
Right, I've seen that before, but what about the headstock?

There is a version of the Chinese instrument now that doesn't have a chrome finish. That's what this looks like to me.

Jun-25-2008, 11:18am
Slightly disagree. #The headstocks of the '30's Nationals looked quite similar; see the picture on p. 227 of Brozman's The History & Artistry of National Resonator Instruments. #The "Kay" connection that the seller mentions also makes sense. #Kay made wooden bodies for National Co. after the Dopyeras moved to Chicago; my National Havana guitar has a Kay body. #Quite possible that a National mandolin might have acquired a Kay label somewhere in the process.

I'm not vouching for it -- don't get me wrong -- but I wouldn't dismiss it a priori as a knock-off. #The Asian Johnson/Republic/Regal instruments are accurate copies so it's easy to go wrong. #Surprised, though, if an Asian instrument would have a patent date. #Were I in the market, I'd at least initiate correspondence with the seller. #And if one were to pay the current bid price, one wouldn't be paying more than an Asian instrument would cost, in any case.

Jun-25-2008, 11:19am
According to the seller, it's a Kay. Certainly looks old, judging by the tuners and buttons. Could be a National body with a Kay neck.

Jun-25-2008, 11:32am
The tuner buttons do look pretty old. There don't appear to be any markings on it, or a label of any sort. But those National logo decals are pretty fragile and could easily get worn off a headstock.

Kay making wood bodies doesn't help much here; obviously this isn't a wood body. I'm not real fond of the Chinese copies, but if I could own a real National for the price of a Chinese copy I'd certainly think about it. Would a headstock of this shape still have the serial number stamped into the end of it?

Jun-25-2008, 11:45am
My Triolian has the straight-sided headstock, and the serial number's stamped into the back of the headstock, just where it joins the neck. I don't know about the "scooped"-sided headstocks, but it might be difficult to stamp the number into the end, given the point at the top.

jim simpson
Jun-25-2008, 10:22pm
It certainly looks 30's period to me as a non-National or as a National produced for someone else.
The National I used to own had "National" carved into the headstock, not the decal one usually sees. I haven't seen one since that looked like mine, it looks like it came from the factory that way.

Jun-26-2008, 12:35am
Here's Brozman's shorthand headstock summary for single-resonator (Style 0) instruments:
"National decal on headstock 1930-35
Arc-ed NATIONAL logo in wood overlay 1936-37
Black & white 'deco' celluloid overlay 1939-40
Large head, black overlay, metal logo 1940-41"

These are the "silver" instruments with the nickel-plated brass (some early ones were steel) bodies.

The Triolians, with painted steel bodies, had a specific "National Triolian" decal. #However, my Triolian, which is probably 1938 or '39, has a plastic headstock overlay, black over white, with "National" incised into the black so that the white letters show through. #It's also a flat-sided headstock, not "scooped" on the sides like the one being auctioned. #I would hazard a guess, if the eBay one's authentic, that it's early '30's. #The "National" decals often detach, and you see ones partially torn off as well.

Here's a link (http://www.bernunzio.com/item.php?sku=059344) to a late '30's ("crow's foot" cover plate holes) that Bernunzio's selling. #Similar shaped headstock to the one on eBay. Can't make out from the photos where the serial number is stamped.

Jun-27-2008, 7:55pm
After reading the posts and searching more thoroughly after resonators, I was feeling fairly convinced this was the (or a) real deal. #Like Allen suggested, I did see a few 30s era with the articulated headstock such as copied by the new import versions. # #It bid up fairly at the end, though still seemed maybe a good price given the cost when label still attached. #Hopefully the buyer frequents here and can fill us in further when it arrives.

Good thread. #I learned a lot from this one.