These included Kay, Harmony and National Dobro also known as Valco. Chicago Musical Instruments or CMI even acquired Gibson Guitars.
One guitar was called The Supro Folk Star Guitar and the other was the National Pocket Bass.
Although the Dobro sound comes from its resonator, the wooden body sure helps the sound resonate. On the Supro, the fiberglass body just muffled the Folk Stars sound.
The Pocket Bass was a short scale bass that I thought just looked plain cool. As a guitarist I was not used to the longer necks on Fenders. The body was Res-O-Glass and the headstock was covered in celluloid. I didn’t have the appreciation for wood in those days that I now have.
There is not a lot of information on the specific history of these two instruments. So I will concentrate on the history of the underlying companies, Dobro, National/Supro and their merger to become Valco.
|The Dopeyera brothers|
V.A.L. Co. National had come up with the idea for manufacturing electric guitars with fiberglass bodies, which they called Res-O-Glass. When Valco came into being, the fiberglass electrics were given the brand name Supro.
This brand had been in existence since 1935 when the Dopeyera Brothers and George Beauchamp combined their companies (Dobro and National).
By 1952 the company had left California for Chicago and was manufacturing electric guitars to compete with Fender and Gibson.
The late 1960’s saw a decline in the guitar business. Like any fad it only lasted a short while. Valco filed bankruptcy and merged with Kay in 1968.
Some Kays built during this period had Supro logos. Chicago Musical Instruments were also jobbers, which meant they manufactured instruments for different companies and used the company’s brand name on the instruments.
This practice continues today, except the instruments are made at different Asian factories in China, Korea, Japan and Indonesia and branded under company names such as Squier or Epiphone.
So you may find Valco/Supro guitars under different brand names. The guitars built today under the New National logo have no relation to the old company.
|New Supro Amp Line Up|