National String Instrument Corporation
|Successor||National Reso-Phonic Guitar|
|Founded||1927 in Los Angeles, California |
(merged to Dobro)
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, California, USA|
The company was formed by John Dopyera, the luthier who invented the resonator, and George Beauchamp, a steel guitar player who had suggested to Dopyera the need for a guitar loud enough to play a melody over brass and other wind instruments.
In 1927, National produced the first resonator instruments and sold under their National brand. They had metal bodies and a tricone resonator system, with three aluminium cones joined by a T-shaped aluminium spider. Wooden-bodied models soon followed, based on inexpensive plywood student guitar bodies supplied by Kay, Harmony, and other established instrument manufacturers.
In 1928, Dopyera left National, and with four of his brothers formed the Dobro Manufacturing Company to produce a competing single resonator design, with the resonator cone inverted. John Dopyera continued to hold stock in National. The Dobro design was both cheaper to produce and louder than the tricone.
National soon introduced their own single resonator design, the biscuit, which Dopyera claimed to have designed before leaving, though the patent was registered by Beauchamp. National also continued to produce tricone designs, which some players preferred.
In 1932, the Dopyera brothers secured a controlling interest in both National and Dobro, and merged the companies to form the National Dobro Corporation.
National Reso-Phonic Guitars
Resonator guitar designs
The National brand and trademark are particularly associated with two of the three basic resonator designs:
- The tricone design with three resonator cones
- The biscuit design with a single cone
Terms such as National or National pattern are often used to distinguish these patterns from the Dobro design.
Some of the artists that used National guitars were:
- Black Ace
- Scrapper Blackwell
- Bumble Bee Slim
- Bo Carter
- Reverend Gary Davis
- Blind Boy Fuller
- Arvella Gray
- Son House
- Mark Knopfler
- Babe Stovall
- Tampa Red
- Peetie Wheatstraw
- Bukka White
- Chris Whitley 
- Oscar "Buddy" Woods
- Resonator guitar, particularly the history section.
- Dobro Manufacturing Company.
- National Reso-Phonic Guitars.
- "The Earliest Days of the Electric Guitar" at Rickenbacker website
- Wheeler, Tom: The Guitar Book: A Handbook for Electric & Acoustic Guitarists (1978), Harpercollins - ISBN 0-06-014579-X
- National Guitars history at Bob Brozman website
- History of National guitars
- Rickenbacker International Corporation, , The Earliest Days of the Electric Guitar. Retrieved on 20 February 2012.
- Tom Wheeler, The Guitar Book: A Handbook for Electric & Acoustic Guitarists. Harpercollins (1978). ISBN 0-06-014579-X, p. 153
- California Secretary of State, Business Search . Retrieved on 24 July 2014.