Posted by Mike Robinson on April 20, 2014
1960's National Newport
These days, most people know the brand National because of their excellent metal body resonator guitars. But National actually started in 1926 and eventually ended up as Valco, based in Chicago, manufacturing National, Supro and Airline guitars.
After years of slab wooden bodies in various shaped and colors, Valco started producing fibreglass bodies. Although probably more popular due to White Stripes fame was the Airline Jetsons model, the 2 pickup red guitar that people think of when thinking res-o-glas. But National had a few models, the Westwood, the Glenwood and this Newport.
Obviously art-deco inspired, these bodies were lightweight and strangely resonant, in a plasitcally, hollowy kinda way. This model sports a Piezo pickup seated into a lucite saddle in the floating wooden bridge, which captured the unique body tone. Cool design, but a little expensive and ahead of its time. Also, the neck mount in the fibreglass body was not the greatest and over time most of the original fibreglass guitars feature a nasty, unplayable humped neck.
If you can find a good one, the 1960's res-o-glas guitars from Airline and National fetch $2500-$5000 in the vintage market these days.
Fortunately Eastwood came to the rescue in 2014 with a nifty tribute to the National Newport under the Airline brand. It took all the good features and threw out the bad. Available in Black and Seafoam Green, here is a video demo from RJ Ronquillo: