The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

National Estralita Shaded Brown, 1936

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Here is a real rarity, a National Estralita single cone resonator guitar in Shaded Brown finish, likely built in Chicago during 1936. There are approximately seven known Estralitas, including this one numbered NO26.

The National Estralita launched in 1934 and was built until 1942 as a 14-fret model, updating and replacing the 12-fret El Trovador. The neck alteration required enlarging the body to what is now known as a ‘Grand Concert’ size. The top is laminate Mahogany, with Mahogany for the sides, back body blocks, linings, and neck. The unbound fingerboard is ‘Ebonized’ Maple with a specific Mother of Pearl inlay set, and the headstock is a solid type with strip tuners.

This is a single-cone, ‘biscuit bridge’ design, with more decoration than other models, including four-layer binding around the resonator cover, top and back. When new in 1934, these sold for $55, a significant amount.

With the entry of the USA into WW2, many materials were no longer available, particularly the metals required for resonator cones. This scarcity caused production to cease once stocks were exhausted.

This very rare National Estralita is in overall very good condition and is very playable. The nitrocellulose lacquer finish is original and shows expected wear and natural checking. Fret wear is light to moderate, suggesting that it was refretted some years ago. It appears to have had its inevitable neck reset allowing for a comfortably low action. The resophonic sound is unmistakable, with plenty of volume and presence and a rich, warm tone.

The history of the National guitar company and brand is a bit convoluted, but the National String Instrument Corporation was founded in 1928 by guitarist George Beauchamp and luthier John Dopyera. Beauchamp’s requirements were implemented by Dopyera as a patented Resophonic guitar, designed to deliver much higher volumes than standard instruments. The guitars worked as intended but were expensive to produce, and soon the company fractured with Dopyera leaving and forming DoBro with his brothers. By 1934, Dopyera regained a controlling interest in National and merged the companies, and by 1936 was moving production from Los Angeles to Chicago.

The current National Reso-Phonic Guitars company has in the recent past offered versions of the Estralita, but the model seems currently out of production.

Price: $3,750.00 CAD
  • Model: Estralita
  • Year: 1936
  • Finish Shaded Brown
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: NO26, one of seven known built during 1936 likely in Chicago
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Very Good
  • Date Posted: 13/04/2024

  • Consignment Item

  • Including Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 5.632lbs 2.56kg
  • Scale Length: 25in 635mm
  • Nut Width: 1.712in 43.5mm
National String Instrument Corporation Website

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