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Author Topic:  National New Yorker history
Fred Kinbom


From:
Berlin, Germany, via Stockholm, Sweden.
Post Posted 15 Sep 2007 2:44 pm     Reply with quote

Dear folks,

I thought it could be interesting to summarise the different versions of the National New Yorker through the 30-something years it was produced. Hereís what Iíve gathered Ė please feel free to chime in with additional info, corrections and comments!


1936

(The Electric Hawaiian)
- 3 pickups (blade at the bridge, 2 concealed pickups under the fretboard)
- 4 volume controls (one for each pickup and one master volume)
- Metal handrest
- Black celluloid fretboard with Roman numerical markers
- Big letter National logo or inlaid shield logo
- Serial number stamped below the headstock on the back.






1937 ca.

- 3 pickups (blade at the bridge, 2 concealed pickups under the fretboard)
- 3-way "Hawaiian-Chimes-Harp" pickup selector, 1 master volume control
- Metal handrest
- Black celluloid fretboard with Roman numerical markers
- Inlaid shield logo
- Serial number stamped on the top edge of the headstock.






1939 ca.

- 1 string-through pickup (not Supro-style)
- 3-way "Hawaiian-Chimes-Harp" tone selector, 1 master volume control
- Metal handrest
- Black fretboard with parallelogram markers
- Inlaid shield logo
- Serial number stamped on the top edge of the headstock (?)
- Slight modification to the body design as the large cavity for the preceeding modelís extra pickups was no longer needed.






1941 ca. ("war years")

- 1 string-through pickup (Supro-style)
- 3-way "Hawaiian-Chimes-Harp" tone selector, 1 master volume control
- Wooden handrest
- Black painted metal (not brass) fretboard with multi-coloured Roman numerical markers
- Metal shield red-blue-sliver badge logo
- Serial number on small brass badge below the headstock on the back
- Smaller headstock than on previous models, as only 6-strings models were available from this point (?). Previously, 6-, 7- and 8-strings were optional and the headstock bigger to accommodate one or two additional tuners.






1947

- 1 singe coil pickup
- 3-way "Hawaiian-Chimes-Harp" tone selector, 1 master volume control
- Plexiglass handrest (following Valcoís WWII production of bomber nosecones)
- Black painted metal (brass) fretboard with multi-coloured Roman numerical markers
- Metal shield red-blue-sliver badge logo
- Serial number on small brass badge below the headstock on the back.


Up until that point Iím pretty much on the ball, I think.

After that, there was the enormous pickup, the "speed dial" tone control in the 1950s (?) and a National logo on the audience side of the guitar in the 1960s. Has anyone got info on these variations?

I blame this National over-indulgence on Bob Brozmanís National book (which sadly only mentions the early New Yorkers briefly, as it concentrates on the resonator guitars)! Wink

Rick Alexander Ė I hope you donít mind that I used the pic of your guitar as an illustration?

Smile

Fred
_________________
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Bill Creller


From:
Saginaw, Michigan, USA
Post Posted 15 Sep 2007 5:43 pm     Reply with quote

Even though I'm a Rickenbacher guy, I have always liked New Yorkers, and I still play mine occasionally. It has a nice clean sound and nice tone.
Nice run-down on models Fred.
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Will Houston


From:
Tempe, Az
Post Posted 15 Sep 2007 9:20 pm     Reply with quote

Its always nice to see vintage lap steels, so cool.Thanks for the info Fred.
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Joseph Meditz


From:
Sierra Vista, AZ
Post Posted 10 Mar 2008 6:26 pm     1950 New Yorker Reply with quote

Fred Kinbom wrote,
Quote:
After that, there was the enormous pickup, the "speed dial" tone control in the 1950s (?)


I just got this from Steel Guitars of North County, my first lap steel. It's far from "museum" quality, but it hasn't been abused. It looks so cool with its plexiglas fretboard which, unfortunately,is invisible in the photo. As for the pickup cover, it is super tough and hasn't shrunken after all these years. However, I don't appreciate the utility of that cover.

There is absolutely no hum from this guitar. So, I guess that that big pickup is a humbucker. As for the sound, very satisfying!

Joe


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Bill Creller


From:
Saginaw, Michigan, USA
Post Posted 10 Mar 2008 6:46 pm     Reply with quote

My 1950 model looks like Joe's except that the tone knob is a three position switch, labeled "bass, mellow, brilliant"
Played a lot of jobs with it in the fifties.
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Richard Shatz


From:
Quincy, IL, United States
Post Posted 11 Mar 2008 10:47 am     Reply with quote

At least one of the latest models from the late 50s or early 60s had two copper colored (I think.) pickups mounted adjacent to one another under a black plastic cover. If I can find a photo I'll post it.
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John Billings


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 11 Mar 2008 2:02 pm     Reply with quote

New Yorkers weren't always steel guitars. I have a big, fat, blond archtop Jazz guitar that also carries the name National New Yorker!

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Bill Creller


From:
Saginaw, Michigan, USA
Post Posted 12 Mar 2008 1:14 am     Reply with quote

John, that blonde one looks like a model 1100 "California" in my National brochure. Neck is a magnesium cored composite design, and adjustable. Right?
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John Billings


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 12 Mar 2008 2:59 am     Reply with quote

Bill,I think I got the model name from a Gruhn book. He has been known to make a mistake now and then! And I can't find the book. You're probably right, cuz it would make more sense. Both guitars in the pic have the magnesium neck, no-heel design. Both guitars play beautifully, and sound wonderful. IMO, these guitars are vastly under-rated. Do you know what company made the bodies for the California and the Debonaire?
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Richard Shatz


From:
Quincy, IL, United States
Post Posted 12 Mar 2008 3:19 pm     Reply with quote

This is what I think is the last rendition of the New Yorker.



I want one.
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John Billings


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 19 Mar 2008 4:37 pm     Reply with quote

Bill, go here, and scroll down. National New Yorker archtop. Memphis Minnie guitar.
http://www.vintageinstruments.com/archtops.html
I was sure mine was a New Yorker!
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Bill Creller


From:
Saginaw, Michigan, USA
Post Posted 20 Mar 2008 6:01 pm     Reply with quote

In the old days, I was told that the acoustic bodies for National were made by Gibson, and I've heard that a few times since then. I have a flat top I bought new in '51, with the mag neck.
That blonde archtop on that site is similar to my old friends National, but his is a 1950 model. Looks like they are worth a few bucks!!


Last edited by Bill Creller on 20 Mar 2008 6:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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John Billings


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 20 Mar 2008 6:06 pm     Reply with quote

When I took both my Nationals to my luthier for set-ups, he freaked at the quality of the bodies! He said they were abdo-lutely top class. And,,,, they sound abdo-lutely top class! Greatly under-rated guitars. If you find one, BUY IT!
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Bill Creller


From:
Saginaw, Michigan, USA
Post Posted 20 Mar 2008 6:20 pm     Reply with quote

That New Yorker that Richard posted is really something! I had no idea such a version existed.
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Steinar Gregertsen


From:
Arendal, Norway, R.I.P.
Post Posted 20 Mar 2008 6:41 pm     Reply with quote

Richard - the one you posted is identical to the one I had. The chicken knob worked as a blend control between the two pickups (as far as I could understand) and it had a sweet spot where it sounded just as gorgeous as it looks..

The serial number on mine dated it to 1957.


Steinar
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Jerry Hedges


From:
Kentucky, USA
Post Posted 11 Sep 2008 4:01 am     Yard Sale New Yorker Reply with quote

Hi Fred,

I am a new member, and just recenly purchased a New Yorker at a yard sale. It looks to be in general good shape. Based on your photo's I believe mine may be close to a 1941 model. The pick-up cover is supported by wood on two ends, but the horizontal piece that bridges across the two supports looks to be made of black plastic. This guitar has two issues that I would like to explore. The tuners are not the original set. Does anyone have a photo or description of what the original tuners were? I met a guy, who thinks he might have a set for sale. I have the same question regarding the original pick-up. I would like to restore the two items if possible. I can post pictures when I get a chance.

By the way, I am a novice to Lap Steels, but to my ears it sounds great! The electronics all work.

Thanks
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Fred Kinbom


From:
Berlin, Germany, via Stockholm, Sweden.
Post Posted 11 Sep 2008 4:35 am     Reply with quote

Hi Jerry,

Please post some photos of your New Yorker and I should be able to tell you about the pickup and tuners. Has it got a serial number (most likely a small brass plate just below the headstock on the back)?

Cheers,

Fred
_________________
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Doug Freeman


From:
Los Angeles, CA
Post Posted 11 Sep 2008 10:08 am     Reply with quote

Anyone got more pics of the 1941 ca. ("war years") version with the Supro-style pickup? I have a New Yorker with the later huge single coil pickup (like the one posted by Joseph), as well as a Bronson Singing Electric with the Supro string-through pickup, and the latter smokes the former: way fatter, smoother, more output. Does that square with others' experience?
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Fred Kinbom


From:
Berlin, Germany, via Stockholm, Sweden.
Post Posted 11 Sep 2008 1:06 pm     Reply with quote

Doug Freeman wrote:
Anyone got more pics of the 1941 ca. ("war years") version with the Supro-style pickup?


Hi Doug,

I have some photos from when I sold it on eBay:











The tuner buttons are replacements from Stew-Mac. When I got it, the tuners looked like this:



Jerry - if yours is a 1940s wartime New Yorker, it was likely to have had metal tuner buttons like the two remaining original buttons above.

And while posting pictures, here is a sweet trio:



(A 1947 (top) and two 1937s.)

And modern day use of an old lap steel:





(Playing one of my 1937 New Yorkers with Hazmat Modine in Germany 2007. Hazmat Modine photos: © Dennis Scharlau.)

Smile

Fred
_________________
www.fredrikkinbom.com - New lap steel album "Oil" out now - listen here: fredrikkinbom.bandcamp.com/album/oil
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Jerry Hedges


From:
Kentucky, USA
Post Posted 11 Sep 2008 6:53 pm     Photos New Yorker Reply with quote

Thanks for everyones help. I have a few pictures I took from last weekend.







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Alan Brookes


From:
Brummy living in the San Francisco Bay Area
Post Posted 11 Sep 2008 7:31 pm     Reply with quote


Here's mine. I don't know what year it is.
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John Billings


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 12 Sep 2008 10:59 am     Reply with quote

Beginning in 1940, National/Valco serial numbers were on a small oblong metal plate (brass or aluminum). This plate was tacked to the back of the neck with two small brass nails. The following serial numbers apply to all Valco-made National instruments, including lapsteels and guitars. These plates were also put on amplifiers. All Valco-made instruments were numbered this way till 1964. Valco also made instruments for Sears (Silvertone), Montgomery Wards (Airline), Gretsch, Oahu and others. These are numbered with the same metal tag system.
Number range Year
------------ ----
G suffix 1940-1942
V100 V7500 1947
V7500 V15000 1948
V15000 V25000 1949
V25000 V35000 1950
V35000 V40000 1951
X100 X7000 1951
X7000 X17000 1952
X17000 X30000 1953
X30000 X43000 1954
X43000 X57000 1955
X57000 X71000 1956
X71000 X85000 1957
X85000 X99000 1958
T100 T5000 1958
T5000 T25000 1959
T25000 T50000 1960
T50000 T75000 1961
T75000 T90000 1962
G100 G5000 1962
T90000 T99000 1963
G5000 G15000 1963
G15000 G40000 1964
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Bill Creller


From:
Saginaw, Michigan, USA
Post Posted 12 Sep 2008 12:41 pm     Reply with quote

I have two National items I bought in September 1950, but have an "X" in the serial, so in the fall of the year they must have had the following year's products in stores etc, sort of like autos. Smile
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Fred Kinbom


From:
Berlin, Germany, via Stockholm, Sweden.
Post Posted 12 Sep 2008 5:30 pm     Re: Yard Sale New Yorker Reply with quote

Jerry Hedges wrote:
This guitar has two issues that I would like to explore. The tuners are not the original set. Does anyone have a photo or description of what the original tuners were? I met a guy, who thinks he might have a set for sale. I have the same question regarding the original pick-up.


Jerry, here is a picture of the tuners of the 1941 New Yorker I had without the covers:



Someone may be able to tell you the brand (I don't remember and can't tell what it says on the tuners from the pic).

About the pickup, this is the same type of pickup that was used on many Valco-made steels - Supro, Airline, Bronson, National (Chicagoan and some lower end models)... - the "string-through" pickup. It should be "findable", if you for instance find a Valco-made steel in otherwise poor shape or are willing to rob a "lesser model" of its pickup. I have seen a pickup like this sold separately on eBay too - they are easy to recognize. I think Rick Aiello has mentioned that some have one "fake magnet" while most have two magnets. The pickup on the lap steel I sold was very "hot". I made a demo video for the sale of this lap steel that you can watch here if you want.

Have fun with your New Yorker - they are great lap steels!

Fred
_________________
www.fredrikkinbom.com - New lap steel album "Oil" out now - listen here: fredrikkinbom.bandcamp.com/album/oil
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Michael Lee Allen


From:
Des Plaines Illinois just NW of ChIraq
Post Posted 13 Sep 2008 10:42 am     Reply with quote

DELETED

Last edited by Michael Lee Allen on 27 Feb 2011 3:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
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