Up for sale, a 1953 National 1170 Club Combo in exceptional, 100% original condition and in perfect working order, complete with the original hardshell case and hangtag. One of only a handful of examples of the 1170 model to ever surface for sale, this rare and early collector-grade archtop was produced by the Valco company in Chicago for their top brand "National." Valco was also known for manufacturing guitars under the Supro and Airline banners, yet the Nationals on the whole were a cut above, and the 1170 Club Combo is a superb example.
The foundation of this model is rooted in Jazz, with a 17" wide non-cutaway body boasting an arched spruce top and lightly figured maple back and sides with a full 3 1/2" body depth. The acoustic tone is clear and immediate, surprisingly bright given the body dimensions. Strung with roundwound strings, the pair of original pickups have a full, well-defined sound clearly tailored for Jazz and Jump Blues, offering a complex slightly barky midrange character that overdrives a medium wattage tube amp nicely with a dynamic push when you dig in hard. The Tone controls have a huge sweep, from biting sparkle to extremely smooth pillowy sounds that are dark and smokey. The guitar is nice and light at only 6lbs 11oz. Professionally setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar, this National features low action and fresh strings.
The maple neck has a hearty U-shaped profile carve with tons of shoulder and full "baseball bat" chunk in every register, measuring .965" deep at the 1st fret and tapering to 1.040" at the 9th. The neck profile is extremely clean save for one finish chip on the treble side shoulder adjacent to the nut, and a tiny nick on the bass side shoulder at the 10th. On the bound rosewood fretboard, the original slender banjo frets are extremely clean, with fretwear limited to light wear beneath the B string on frets 2-3. The original hand-carved bone nut is intact, measuring 1 5/8" in width. The headstock face retains the complete (and fragile) raised National logo, along with the stock set of Kluson Deluxe "no line" strip tuners, complete with their original covers, embossed with the National logo and shield. Both the tuners and the covers are immaculate, and the back of the headstock also retains the early X-prefix serial number badge, dating this instrument to 1953.
All of the electronics function as intended, and the entire assembly, pickups and jack included, are mounted to the large textured hard plastic pickguard. The solder joints are untouched, with large paper-in-oil tone caps and Stackpole pots which date to the 19th week of '52. The knobs are all original with a cream plastic two-way paddle pickup selector rotary knob, and a quartet of large cream barrel knobs. The Tone knobs also function in reverse, with maximum treble when rolled all the way back. The hardware is rounded out by the original carved, floating Brazilian rosewood bridge with compensated "lightning bolt" saddle, as well as the nickel trapeze tailpiece. Cosmetically, the guitar is a stunner, with wear on the 100% original Sunburst nitro lacquer finish limited to a few minor marks and shattered glass-style lacquer checking, most prominent on the spruce top.
The original black textured Frost & Stone hardshell case with purple interior is included, with the original case manufacturer badge on the inside edge of the lid. The original handle is intact, and the latches are functional. The guitar also comes with a tiny original National Association of Music Merchants hangtag.