1936 National Trojan Guitar
Nearly 20 years ago my sister brought to me an old National guitar that had been in the family for many years. I remember seeing it some time in the 1960s.
she brought was a sad sight! The guitar had been left strung and stored
in a wet basement for decades! The neck was loose, the wood had been
"refinished" blond under a brushed-on coat of polyurethane, and the
wood was still soaking wet! The case falling apart and was so rotten
that it went straight into the trash.
had done some luthier work in the past but didn't think this guitar was
a candidate for major work but, before scrapping it, I thought it wise
to find out what it was. After considerable research I determined that
it was a 1936 National Trojan. Because of the date, I realized it
must have been in the family since new and was a gift from my
grandmother to one of her sons. It made sense since the Trojan model
was distributed by Sears and that's how it ended up in rural southern
After allowing the guitar to dry naturally over a
couple of years, I repaired the loose neck and refinished the guitar in
closer to factory original colour. I had the tuning machines gold
plated and nickel plated the resonator cone.
After this work I found the action was too high so I reset the neck with wedges to provide the proper action height.
was at that point that I found the body itself was distorted! From
being in the damp over decades and left strung, the body was concave
between the neck and the heel and was wider across the bottom course.
The mount for the resonator was supposed to be 9 inches in diameter but
was 1/8" compressed along the centerline and 1/8" expanded across the
There would be a LOT of work in attempting to restore
this guitar and it would have little re-sale value, even if restored to
original condition so I debated long and hard about investing further
work. In the end I decided in had no value as it was, only
sentimental value. Since it is worth nothing as-is, I decided to take
it on as a challenge.
After some correspondence with National
Guitars I confirmed the body was assembled with hide glue so heat and
humidity should get it apart - with much determination, it did!
.... to be continued ....