National Guitars

Our new website has short sound clips of each model we produce. These are located on the individual instrument pages and will automatically start playing as you enter each instruments ?ore?section (turn your speakers on). In our Media section under the Sound Clips menu there is a running list for quick comparison. Our 2006 Catalogue includes two CD?, Artist? in Resonance Vol. II and the AudioCatalogue Vol. III. The material on the AudioCatalogue has been assembled to facilitate comparisons of the various instruments. This CD is designed to answer such questions as "What is the difference between a steel body and a brass body?" and "What is the difference between a Tricone and a Single cone?" The Artists in Resonance CD features 23 different musicians playing a variety of tunes on their National Reso-Phonic instruments?uitars, mandolins, and ukuleles.

For polished, bright nickel guitars: Start with the least abrasive cleaning techniques before moving on to the more abrasive ones. Clean the nickel with a soft cloth (we use cloth diapers) & some glass cleaner, rubbing alcohol, or white vinegar. This should be done each time you use it, and should remove fingermarks. For stubborn stains, we recommend Flitz metal polish. You can buy Flitz at most hardware stores or from our online store: Once the instrument is pristine, you can apply a coat of wax that has carnauba in it, such as Johnson's Clear Paste Wax or Meguire's No. 26 Car Wax.

For satin, Vintage Steel body guitars: Use Nickel-Aide to protect and seal the open pores of the satin nickel plating--

The key factors in determining the value of a vintage National are the age of the instrument, its overall condition, and the demand on the vintage market for one like it. There are a number of online vintage guitar shops for you to price compare. Please visit,,, or to see if there's a guitar like yours for sale.

Our primary area of expertise is in pre-World War II Nationals. If you would like us to give you an appraisal for personal, insurance, or sales purposes, please send us the following:

Photos of the instrument, front, back & sides
A description (including dings, dents & previous repairs)
Serial No. XXXXXXX
A check or money order for $25.00, this can also be charged to a credit card.

Send the above to:
National Reso-Phonic Guitars
871 C Via Esteban
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-7167.

Contact Us

In return, we will send you a letter with any historic or pertinent information, as well as your guitar's value on the current vintage market, signed by Don Young. If for any reason we are not able to identify and appraise the instrument, we will return your payment. has some good information regarding guitar lessons, gear, repair, and general guitar maintenance. The string changing tutorial is located here:

We use John Pearce strings for all of our instruments. Here are the following gauges:

Standard Guitar ?#790NR
.013 .017 Silvered Steel .026 .036 .046 .056 Phos. Bronze Wound

Square Neck ?#3100
.016, .018 Silvered Steel .027 .039 .049 .059 Phos. Bronze Wound

Resolectric Set ?#2700 Jazz Medium
.012 .016 Silvered Steel .024 .032 .042 .052 Nickel Wound

12 String Guitar ?#1400L
E-1st .010 Silvered Steel             E-2nd .010 Silvered Steel             B-3rd .014 Silvered Steel
B-4th .014 Silvered Steel             G-5th .023 Phos.Bronze                 G-6th .010 Silvered Steel
D-7th .030 Phos.Bronze                 D-8th .012 Silvered Steel             A-9th .039 Phos.Bronze
A-10th .018 Silvered Steel         E-11th .047 Silvered Steel         E-12th .027 Phos.Bronze

El Trovador ?#200L Light Gauge
.012 .016 Silvered Steel .024 .032 .042 .053 Phos. Bronze Wound

Baritone Guitar ?#3260L
.016 .019 Silvered Steel .030 .042 .054 .068 Phos. Bronze Wound

Mandolin Loop End ?#2150M
.011 .011 .014 .014 Silvered Steel .026 .026 .040 .040 Phos. Bronze Wound

We have these sets available on our online store:

Each instrument that we build is carefully setup prior to shipping. We start by setting the neck straight, or with a small amount of relief. Next, we address the string action at the nut. The slots are left a touch higher than most standard flattop acoustic guitars, to allow for clean bottleneck slide play. Finally, we set the height at the saddle and check the measurement at the 12th fret. Measuring from the top of the fingerboard to the bottom of the string, the measurement for the high E string is .140 inches, the measurement for the low E string is .150 inches. For El Trovadors, these measurements are .130 for the high E string, and .140 for the low E string.

Whenever you adjust a truss rod, whether you are a certified repair person or not, always use caution. For many years, our truss rods have adjusted the opposite of what is considered “normal” (counterclockwise to straighten the neck, clockwise to add relief). When we introduced the ResoRocket in 2004, we also introduced our newly designed truss rod that adjusts clockwise to straighten the neck, and counterclockwise to add relief. In January, 2005, we started using the new truss rods for all of our instruments.

1st Sight the neck and determine which direction your neck adjustment needs to be made.
2nd Detune the strings slightly.
3rd Insert a 1/8 Allen wrench all the way into the broached barrel nut, and make a very small adjustment. Sight the neck again. Has the neck moved in the direction you want it to? If so, continue adjusting as needed. Retune the guitar and check your progress.

Even trained professionals have stripped out truss rods by being over-zealous, going the wrong direction, and not checking their progress. We encourage you to call the factory at 805-546-8442 from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Pacific Time, Monday–Friday if you have any questions.

We do not sell direct to individuals. Our instruments are sold though authorized National Reso-Phonic Guitar dealers only. Our domestic and international dealer lists can be found here. Domestic Dealers or International Dealers

Visit our repair page at the following link Repairs

Yes, we do artful customizations on new instruments. You may be interested in engraving a significant name or date on the body, or inlaying it on the headstock or fretboard. You may want a unique fretboard design or you may want more elaborate engraving. We can accommodate most customization requests. We will work with you on the design and make sure that it is executed with skill and precision.

We offer a few different types of pickups for our instruments. We can install a Highlander pickup system in our Single cone, Tricone and Spider cone guitars. Please visit for more information and specs. Also, we have the National Reso-Phonic HotPlate available, which was designed in collaboration with Mike Dowling. It is a direct, drop in replacement for all 9.5” Single cone National guitars. It features a Tele-style, single coil pickup hand-wound by Jason Lollar, along with passive volume and tone controls:

We have come to the conclusion that using a raised/Hawaiian nut adapter on any roundneck guitar is a good way to damage your instrument. Our roundneck instruments were not built to handle the heavy gauge strings and high action required for lap style playing. Squareneck guitars were designed for this very purpose. A squareneck instrument was designed to stay in tune under the high tension of a lap-style setup. If you choose to use a raised/Hawaiian nut adapter on your roundneck guitar, we recommend detuning the strings immediately after playing the guitar. Also, please note that any damage caused by the use of a raised/Hawaiian nut will not be covered under warranty

The following image shows the most common location for a qualified guitar repair/builder to install a strap button.

We recommend that if you want to play open E and open A tuning, use a light gauge set of strings. We also recommend that you tune it down a step or two after your finished playing your instrument.

The first thing to check is the date of manufacture on the label. The label is located inside the body, on the bass-side “F” hole, upper bout. We began using the new alloy Tricone resonators on all Tricone guitars sometime in August, 2006. The first few batches of these new resonators were marked with a red dot on the underside or outer-edge of each cone. The markings will be difficult to spot through the coverplate, so you will probably have to remove the coverplate to verify. The 9.5” new alloy single cone went into production a year later, in September of 2007. All new alloy 9.5” single cones are stamped with the National shield in two places on the face of the resonator. You should be able to see the stamped shields through the sieve holes in the coverplate.

The new alloy cones are direct replacements for both vintage and new National guitars. For Tricone guitars, the installation is usually very simple. Remove the strings, tailpiece, and coverplate. Next, remove the aluminum T-bridge and the old cones. Place the new cones in the soundwell and reinstall the T-bridge. Make sure to carefully align the 3 pins of the T-bridge with the small holes at the apex of each cone.

The single cone installation is a bit more involved. Our new alloy 9.5” cone sits .080 inches lower than the previous generation (1999-2007), a new biscuit saddle is necessary and included with the purchase of a new 9.5” cone. The biscuit will need to be cut and slotted for setup. Please visit for a tutorial on cutting a new saddle. If you do not have the proper tools for the installation, take your instrument to a qualified repair person

All Duco finished guitars are currently discontinued. We are working on a new formula for the Duco finish and will reintroduce them upon completion of this process.