1940 NATIONAL NEW YORKER rare version w OHSC

about 1 year ago
Mark Santi
Available on
Steel Guitar Forum
Florida, USA

(portions of this copy courtesy of my friend Andy Marshall of THD, used with permission)
Up for sale is my super rare National No. 70 New Yorker Model Hawaiian lap steel guitar, most likely built in late 1940, but possibly in early 1941. (The serial number 5xxG only gets us to that level of accuracy.)
If you are into National steel guitars, then this is the one you want !
National made many variations of this guitar over the years, with different appointments, different tuning machines, different pickups, different tone controls, etc. All were interesting, but not all of them sounded especially good. I have owned a dozen or so over the years, and have played a hundred or so more, but this is the only one I have ever encountered with this exact pickup and only 6 strings.
The consensus is that this string-through pickup is the best-sounding of the many pickup types used over the years, and I must agree. Most of the pickup types used were very woofy and wooly sounding, with little in the way of top-end detail. While this may have been desirable at the time, most players these days are looking for a sound with more harmonic content, and a higher-output pickup than most of the New Yorkers had.
The most common version of this string-through pickup has two coils, one for the lower three strings, and one for the upper three strings, and has the adjustable pole pieces grouped in threes up-up-up-down-down-down. The earlier, rarer version, which this guitar has, has six individual coils, one for each string, and the adjustable pole pieces are staggered up-down-up-down-up-down. While I have seen this pickup on other National/Supro/Valco models, this is the only one I am aware of that was used on a New Yorker. Some of the early 1940s 7-string New Yorkers used a 7-string version of this pickup, but I have searched high and low, and cannot find any mention, nor any photographs of another 6-string New Yorker with this version of the pickup. It may have been a special-order, or a prototype, or just something built to fill an order when there was nothing else available. I am not claiming that this is the only one of its kind, only that they are rare to the point that countless hours of internet searching have turned up few other examples.
A few months ago, I found a website with what claimed to be a complete list of the various versions of the National New Yorker model, but it did not list this variant.
Overall, the guitar is in excellent condition, especially considering that it is 77 years old. Even the original tweed-covered Geib case is in great shape.
The original tuning machines have been cleaned and lubricated, and are very smooth.
The scale length is 23.
This is, without a doubt, the best-sounding National New Yorker I have ever played.
To hear a sound clip I recorded of this delightful instrument, please click NYDemo.mp3. I am playing through a 1961 Gibson Discoverer amp, with no effects. I used two microphones set about 18 apart, in front of the instrument. There are no effects. To get the best possible idea of the instruments sound and presence, I recommend listening with headphones or very good speakers. The recording was done at my desk, and does not do justice to the instrument, but it gives you an idea of the ballpark we are talking about. Please also forgive the playing. I seriously havent played in almost three years, and it shows.
As stated, it comes with its original Geib hard shell case, and a like new Audio-Technica 20'-25' cord, as well as the original.
TERMS, PLEASE READ CAREFULLY: Buyer pays selling price plus shipping and insurance. I typically ship with USPS or UPS, though other arrangements can be made at the buyer's request. No fee is charged for packing or handling. I will gladly ship anywhere in the world,
international shipping charges can be steep, and the buyer is responsible for all duties, taxes, VAT, brokerage and storage fees on their end. Please contact me with any questions.
yours for $949