|John Dopyera holding a resonator violin and George Beauchamp|
|The Dopyera Brothers|
|Tri- Cone and Single Cone|
This left his brother Louis Dopyera in charge. By now National was having financial difficulties.
The last thing that John Dopyera designed was a single cone or biscuit resonator. Dopyera never patented this before leaving the company. Beauchamp went on to obtain the patent.
|George Beauchamp - The Frying Pan|
|1930 National Tri-cone Resonator|
Though John Dopyera had left National, he still retained some of the rights of the company. He changed his own companies name to National Dobro.
By 1934, Louis Dopyera, in an effort to save the struggling company, took on two partners who were business men, Victor Smith and Al Frost.
The business were relocated to Chicago and renamed by using the first letters of the three partners names; VAL Company or Valco. The company produced not just resonator guitars, but also lap steels, artchtop guitars, mandolins and amplifiers, sometimes using parts from other companies.
|1947 Valco/National Ad|
In 1942 the company reorganized. The war effort was on and “essential manufacturing” meant only building war related materials. By 1947 the companies focus was once again on guitars and amplifiers and once again Valco utilized parts made by other manufacturers including Gibson, Kay, and Harmony.
|1947 Valco-National amplifier|
Valco’s forte was on electronics such as pickups and amplifiers.
|Valco made Oahu amp 1954|
Many of these were re-branded with the name of another company.
|1958 Town and Coutry|
In 1952 Valco had produced its first solidbody electric guitar and by 1955 had offered their top-of-the-line Town and Country model under their National brand name.
|Valco 1947 Supro Amp|
In the 1950’s the company first offered the Supro brand.
|Hang tag advertising Silver Sound|
|Airline Guitars - Montgomery Ward|
Around 1958 Valco produced an unusual line of guitars under the Airline brand name that were meant to be sold through Montgomery Ward stores. Unlike conventional wooden bodied guitars, the bodies on most of the Airline guitars were made of fiberglass material which they called Res-O-Glass.
|Inside an Airline Guitar|
Holes for the electronics were drilled in the bodies top and were fitted. The body pieces were then glued together and binding was placed around the middle of the body on most instrument.
|Airline wooden model|
Some of the Airline models that were made of wood. All were sold through the Montgomery Ward catalog.
One of the oddest Valco guitars was a fiberglass or Res-O-Glass model put out under the Supro brand name and called The Folkstar.
If you think back to the early 1960’s; briefly before The Beatles and the rest of the British Invasion, Folk Music was in vogue. Young folks wanted to be the next Peter, Paul, and Mary, or Joan Baez. Kids were buying acoustic guitars and trying to learn the chords to "Michael Row The Boat Ashore."
Valco decided to cash in on the fad in 1964 and came out with the Supro Folkstar Model S444, which combined features found on other Valco guitars. Unfortunately they were too late to the party.
They advertised it as a guitar that did not need an amp.
It only came in red. There were two sound ports on the guitars upper bouts. How did it sound? It was very tinny and not too loud.
|Montgomery Ward Folkstar|
At Montgomery Wards request, Valco issued a model for their department store. It was the same guitar, but this time with a black fiberglass body and “M’s” encircling the resonator.
This guitar had 3 volume knobs on the upper bout and 1 tone knob, located on lower side of the body. It also had a 3 way selector switch on the cutaway.
Early models that had 2 pickups came with the third set of potentiometers for the “Silver-Sound” piezo pickup on the bridge.
By 1961, Valco was concentrating on their lower priced guitars and catalog sales and this wonderful model was discontinued.
|'60's Pocket Bass|
|'66 Supro Pocket Bass|
|'61 Airline Town and Country guitar|
|Airline Pocket Bass|
Valco made an Airline model, that was the same bass, but the Res-O-Glass body had a slight sunburst finish. On later models, such as this 1966 version, the headstock was updated to the slanted style.
|Valco Gretsch amplifier|
|Valco amp with V logo|
Valco made amplifiers for distribution under their own brand and also for other companies.
These companies include Oahu, Gretsch, Silivertone, Harmony, Goya, Kay, McKinney, and others.
|Valco made Supro amplifier|
They also made amplifiers under their own brand names; Supro and National.
Most of these amplifiers ranged from a 4 watt output up to around 30 watts. Some even came with twin 12” Jensen speakers.
|1964 Supro Thunderbolt|
One of their most popular was the Supro Thunderbolt. It put out around 15 watts and came with a 15” Jensen speaker. It was supposed to be a bass amp, but was better suited for guitars.
|'65 Custom Kraft - '68 Truetone|
Valco merged with Kay in 1967. The guitar boon had ended and sales ground to a halt. The Res-O-Glass bodies were abandon and guitar manufacturing was moved to Japan. By 1968 Valco had declared bankruptcy.
|National Resophonic Style O|
In 1989 a new company emerged called National Resophonic that was founded by Don Young. They built wonderful resonator guitars in the style of National Dobro/Valco, but had no relationship to the original company.
|Eastwood Airline guitars|
In 2001 Canadian Michael Robinson established Eastwood Guitars. The guitars and basses his company offers are replicas of vintage and classic designs mainly from the 1960’s. The guitars are made in three different factories in Korea and China and imported.
Shortly after starting the company, Robinson was able to acquire the rights to use the trade name Airline and has since offered new versions of these fine classic designs, with updated features.
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