Catch of the Day: 1935 National Duolian

1935 National Duolian

Personally, I’ve always liked the tone of National Duolians. The more famous Style 0, with its shiny nickel finish looks great, but to my ear its brass body has a little too much ring and reverb to it. The Duolian was a cheaper model and its body was made from steel, which has a slightly drier timbre. If you look carefully at the photo, you can see the steel peeking through where some of the paint was worn off from years of playing. Speaking of the paint, this 1935 example boasts the one of the coolest guitar paint jobs ever, the prismatic Duco finish. (Scroll down for a close-up of the Duco.)

This guitar was a one owner instrument, and it shows some minor wear here and there, but otherwise it look like it was well-played and well cared for. It has 14 frets clear of the body, a neck style that is very desirable for blues players. Sadly for those very same blues players, it was ordered with a square neck for playing Hawaiian style. But if you play lap steel or square-neck Dobro, the single cone has a clear, punchy tone that doesn’t sound like any other steel guitar. Because there are far fewer Hawaiian guitarists than blues players, this Duolian is very reasonably priced at $1999 at Folkway Music. If it had a round neck, it would sell for around $1000 more.

This square neck gives blues guitarists something to sing the blues about.

I could just stare at this Duco paint forever.