Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

1939 National Aragon De Luxe

Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

1939 National Aragon De Luxe

Article excerpt

National introduced its first guitars - which featured spun aluminum cones to help amplify the tone of the guitar - in 1927. Designed with volume in mind, these instruments really delivered. However, if the folks at National had any hopes of their instruments appearing in the jazz ensembles that were so popular at the time, those hopes were quickly dashed because the power and tone of acoustic archtop guitars (first introduced in 1922 by Gibson, under the direction of Lloyd Loar) proved to be just the right combination of characteristics to be heard behind a large band. Resophonic guitars, although loud, had a harsher, more banjo-like tone than the archtops, so they never really were in contention to replace the banjo as the rhythmic drivers in jazz bands, and they eventually found their niche in the world of Hawaiian music and with some blues performers.

In 1935 National had morphed into the National-Dobro Company. The Depression had been taking its toll on sales, and the company was looking for new products to present to the instrument-buying public. By 1936, the company was moving headlong into all manner of electric stringed instruments, and other companies were also working hard at creating the electric guitars that would come to dominate much of the pop-culture music of the next 70 years.

In 1939, somebody at National decided to put a resophonic cone into an archtop guitar (the idea had been dismissed earlier), and the Aragon de Luxe was the result. National bought the 17-inch bodies (with maple back and sides, and a spruce top) from Kay, but made its own necks, cones, and finishes. …

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