Vintage Instruments: Gibson Guitars

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1950 National 1111 Aristocrat

The National model 1111 Aristocrat is a Gibson-built 17” archtop featuring a tone-bar-braced maple ply body and a bolted-on Valco-style neck. This model was built for a short while through the late 1940s and early 1950s during a time when CMI was the parent company of both Gibson and National. It is unique in that it was originally set up with a dual pickup system that comprised of a single-coil neck pickup and a piezo bridge pickup with on-board blending control. Those original pickups really don’t sound very good though, and this example has been hot-rodded with a Jazz Master neck pickup and a K&K acoustic soundboard pickup and stereo wiring. The Jazz Master pickup in the neck works beautifully with the big 17” body, offering up a jazzy / bluesy / rockabilly vibe and strong output. The K&K pickup can clean it all up if you’re after a fully acoustic amplified tone.

The guitar plays well and is nicely set-up with 12-53 strings. The original frets appear to have been recently dressed and play cleanly. Neck carve has a lowish C feel and a 1-11/16” nut width. Original finish throughout, some of which has flaked away at the guitar’s bottom. There are attractive craze-lines throughout, and some great looking patina. Original tailpiece, tuners, nut and control plates. Newer pickguard and bridge.

With period hardshell case

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