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National Reso-Phonic 14-fret Style “O” Guitar

What a difference two frets make. With 14 frets to a typical resonator’s 12, the new 14-fret Style “O” guitar exists as something of a hybrid, a split between a gutbucket slide tool and an expansive, strum-friendly dreadnought. It’s a crossbreed that could easily pass as innovation; surprisingly, it’s an innovation first introduced in the 1930s.

During that time National Reso-Phonic’s mechanically amplified instruments were a guitarist’s first choice when rocking blues jook houses and pummeling rhythm parts in hot-jazz bands. These steel- and brass-bodied instruments are forever linked to the Delta and Piedmont blues styles, being famously played by seminal bluesmen like Blind Boy Fuller (who fingerpicked gently tumbling rags and East Coast blues) and Son House (who banged and slid on his National like a man possessed). The ’60s saw a group of youthful blues revivalists like John Hammond, Jr. and Taj Mahal exhume the National and today a simmering cult of obsessives collect these instruments and lift bass lines from virtuosos like Catfish Keith, Roy Rogers (not the cowboy), boogie-master Del Ray and Bob Brozman.

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