National New Yorker lap steel variant 1

National New Yorker lap steels.

National New Yorker lap steel variant 1

This line of lap steels retained the New Yorker name from 1935 to 1968, but went through many changes. Often suprising owners with extra pickups hidden below the fingerboard.

New Yorker from the August 1941 sales brochure.

Mark Makin writes: In my scheme of things, there are 15 Variants, the chronology goes like this:

  1. The first NY is a short body with 4 black switches and a pickup blade which is split with 5 'grooves' to create a sort of 6- pole pickup. Roman numerals in white (1935)
  2. The 2nd is a longer body with 4 buttons, flat pickup plate and cover mounted right at the end of the body. Roman numerals in white (also 1935)
  3. The 3rd is the same but with a shorter scale and 2 less frets (21)Roman numerals in white (also 1935)
  4. The 4th had all hidden pickups and silver name plates (not black) to the 4 buttons .Roman numerals in white. "Electric plus lightning bolt" (1935 as well)
  5. The 5th variant is the chromed bodied NY pictured in the 1936 catalogue and listed as the "Electric Hawaian" (1936/7) This one also has angled lettering under the strings ( shield plus "New Yorker"). It has its buttons staggered on each side of the strings. Roman numerals in white. NB. The first and earliest 5 variants ALL had 4 buttons (Bass, treble, Master Control and Natural Haw). Everything after 1937 up to 1968 has ONE button and a 3-way sweep tone switch at the bottom.
  6. The 6th variant (also 1936) It still has Roman numeral markers but now has a "hawaian-chimes-harp button with white knob at the bottom. (Chromed pickup cover)
  7. The 7th variant had black and white hollow trapezium bar markers with three lines inside. It has the 3 way switch at the bottom with a standard supro type "through-field" pickup plate. A slope-sided bent chromed pickup cover and was made in 1940.
  8. The 8th variant (also 1940) has the same pickup cover but in black and does NOT have the Supro pickup plate. It has the pickup mounted directly on the body top going to a stop tailpiece. Same bar markers as variation 7.
  9. The 9th variant has coloured Roman numerals ( 3-green, 5-gold, 7-orange, 9-blue, and 12-red) It has coloured descriptions (blue-gold-red) next to the 3-way switch and it has a wooden pickup cover in black. These are the ones we call "wartime" NYs (1941/2) These will have G serial numbers.
  10. The 10th variant (1946) also has coloured markers but in a different order (3-purple, 5-gold, 7-blue, 9-red and 12-green). They have a chunky pickup with black surround and 6 central pole pieces, 3 way switch description colours are red-gold-green and it has the first of the large plexiglas pickup covers.
  11. The 11th variant (like the one you have!) is the same as this but has a plain brass fingerboard. (also 1946)
  12. The 12th variant is also the same as No. 10 but has a HUGE square pickup, a large plexiglass cover with large radius curves at the top corners. The bottom 3-way switch is now named bass-mellow-brilliant in gold letters and it says "New Yorker" in small letters at the very bottom of the instrument. (around 1948)
  13. The 13th version is the same but with a plain dark wine-red translucent plastic fingerboard with fret numbers in white from 1-20. It now has a white knob. (around 1949) Incidentally, the last four variants all have National shields in silver and blue with National in red.
  14. The 14th version (1949/50) has a gold and blue National shield logo plate. It is an identical instrument to the last two but it has white (not black) thumb screws to hold the plexi-plate on and the 3-way switch now has a circular, knurled/ribbed type of control knob.
  15. The 15th is the last one. The body shape is more rounded and streamlined on the stairsteps. It has silver totem-pole markers down the fingerboard. It has a stepped black-plastic pickup cover printed with a stepped 3-wing-type of design and the small words NEW YORKER in white. It has a chicken-head knob again on the 3-way switch which has graded degrees all around the dial. The headstock has a curved top and the logo is now the 1950s National "stickpin" logo in black and silver. This instrument remained unchanged for the last 10 years of production from around 1957 to 68.

6,7 and 8 string necks with 23 or 25 fret fingerboard versions of most (all?) of the earlier early models were available, these had a bigger headstock than later models so could accomodate the extra tuners, actually resulting in more than just 15 variants!

The above was written by Mark for our notecannons forum, during a discussion about New Yorker lap steels, please drop by and add your thoughts.

National New Yorker lap steel variant 4
David Ball's 1935 New Yorker, Variation 4 in Mark's description. (Note replacement knobs on bass side)


National New Yorker lap steel variant 6
Fred Kinbom's 1936 New Yorker, Variation 6 in Mark's description.


National New Yorker lap steel variant 11
Fred Kinbom's 1947 New Yorker with brass fingerboard, Variation 11 in Mark's description.


National New Yorker lap steel, variant 12
David Ball's 1948 New Yorker, Variation 12 in Mark's description.


National New Yorker lap steel, 12th fret join
Fred Kinbom's 1937 New Yorker, showing join in the fingerboard at the 12th fret, allowing access to the pickups mounted under the fingerboard.


National New Yorker lap steel, pickups under fingerboard
Inside Fred Kinbom's 1937 New Yorker, showing the pickups exposed after the fingerboard is removed.


National New Yorker lap steel
An early example, Serial B1410. (Variant 1 perhaps?), with 33 frets, and join in fingerboard at fret 12. As you can see the headstock is ‘long’ enough to accomodate 4 a side tuners for a 7 or 8 string setup. The handrest and small cosmetic plate at tail is missing.

National New Yorker lap steel, Serial no B1390
Another V1 instrument Serial # B1390 with the handrest and small cosmetic plate intact at tail.

National New Yorker lap steel, V2 headstock
V1 lapsteel, Serial B1410, headstock.

National New Yorker lap steel, V2 headstock rear
V1 lapsteel, Serial B1410, headstock rear and tuners. These early New Yorkers had separate tuners and no covers on them.

National New Yorker lap steel, V2 in case
V1 lapsteel, Serial B1410 in it's case.

National New Yorker lap steel, V2 tailpiece  and pickup
V1 lapsteel, Serial B1410 tailpiece and pickup. This pickup goes directly to the Natural Haw control

National New Yorker lap steel, V2 fingerboard off
V1 lapsteel, Serial B1410 fingerboard off.

National New Yorker lap steel, V2 Body Cavity
V1 lapsteel, Serial B1410, body cavity, pick ups removed, note 2 packing layers of wood under fingerboard.

National New Yorker lap steel, V2 underside of tailpiece pickup
V1 lapsteel, Serial B1410, underside of tailpiece pickup. Note two bobbins (3 strings each) in series feeding the 'Natural Haw' control.

National New Yorker lap steel, V2 neck and mid pu
V2 lapsteel, Serial B1410, neck and mid pickups. Note split bobbins, the neck and mid treble (top 3 strings) bobbins are wired together in parallel, feeding the 'Full Treble' control via a .02 capacitor. Ditto the bass coils (bottom 3 strings) feeding the 'Full Bass' control via a .05 capacitor.

National New Yorker lap steel, V2 serial no
V1 lapsteel, Serial B1410.

National New Yorker lap steel, V2 wire diag
V1 lapsteel, Serial B1410, pickup and wire diagram.


More information

A great source of pictures and information on these instruments is the forum at steelguitarforum Some of the discusions, many with pictures, include:

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