Flynn Amps and the value of enthusiasmK is for Knopfler, MarkM is for Modes

N is for National
July 25, 2014

National Guitars are a company best known for two things. Firstly for being the first major guitar manufacturer to decided to shift focus from acoustic to electric instruments. And for making from 1928 onwards, the Dobro and other resonator guitars. These instruments are made with metal bodies and metal resonator cones, most commonly fashioned out of aluminium. This design gives the guitar a louder sound than traditional wooden models but provides an excellent harsh and brittle metallic tone which although an acquired taste, suites some styles of blues and especially slide guitar playing.

When they merged with the Dobro company in 1932 the two luthiers began producing triplate resonators, guitars with three metal cones that vibrated inside the body, amplifying the sound. The most famous model however, is the one that appears on the cover of Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms album, the National Style O. This guitar features a single large resonating cone in the face of the guitar body, which is all made of pressed steel.

The company also made lap-steel guitars and mandolins, later making cheaper instruments under the the Supra budget brand name. National spotted early opportunities for the electric amplification of the guitar but failed to capitalise on it in the Rickenbacker and later Fender did so successfully. The company went bust in the 1950s but has since come back from the grave to make resonator guitars to the original designs from the days of Dobro.