Thursday, February 10, 2011
1958 National Belaire
Here's another one that a friend brought in to show off- a 1958 National Belaire. As most guitar geeks can tell you, the body is actually a Gibson-made ES-175 body, with the National/Valco guys providing the neck, hardware, and most importantly, the pickups.
The National/Valco stuff may cause a few guitar snobs' noses to tilt skyward, but the slimmer neck is very playable, and the stylish headstock and inlays have a cool retro appeal that the more staid, old-world archtops are hard-pressed to match.
Now, if there's one thing that the Valco folks knew, it was how to make fat, funky single-coil pickups. This baby has three of 'em. The brass pickup covers also darken the sound considerably, although the fact that the strings probably haven't been changed since the Carter Administration doesn't help. We're going to spruce this one up a little, and then we'll see how she sounds!