Here is a vintage 1948 Gibson-made Royal Aire flat top acoustic guitar with a factory National installed neck. A very obscure brand, probably issued in a small singular batch of less than 50, this Royal Aire (serial# V 9136) is essentially identical to a concurrently produced Gibson LG-3 aside from a re-purposed National aluminum crest, a National (Valco) made neck, and a mahogany pickguard reminiscent of those (in both size and shape) applied to the National 1155 which was the National-distributed Gibson J-45 equivalent. Incredibly rare, and unbelievably fantastic, this is a real gem of an acoustic: perfect for recording, and a must have for vintage Gibson collectors.
A very limited production run of re-branded National Dynamic lap steels sported the elusive Royal Aire moniker, but nothing accessible has been published about distributor or their consequent relationship with Gibson and/or National (Valco). Both the acoustics and the steels featured the exact same logo and crest profile as many National acoustics. With regard to larger J-45 style National guitars, it appears the the body was made and finished by Gibson, but that the neck, hardware, pickguard, and even bridge assembly was installed by National. This Royal Aire is no exception, and the unique bridge profile attests to this assembly process.
The Royal Aire’s neck features a generous 1 3/4″ nut width, measuring slightly over at approximately 1 25/32″. With an incredibly wide neck profile and medium depth, the mass of the mahogany neck enhances the otherwise petite body with a small sound to proportions and output like that of a large body acoustic. With incredible projection and singing sustain, this guitar sounds incredible. Aside from the previously discussed nut width, this guitar shares the contraction specs. of a Gibson LG-3.
This example is in very good 100% all original condition, however, it appears there is one very small side crack (on the bass side waist) and another very small crack in the middle of the back. Both of which appear to be natural drying cracks, neither of which are through the wood. There are no tops cracks of any kind, and the braces remain strongly affixed. The guitar is in very excellent structural condition: top of the guitar is perfectly flat, the bridge is firmly glued and bolted in place, and the neck joint is clean and crisp. The guitar plays incredibly well with the original saddle and nut still in place., and is highly enjoyable to play. It was recently re-strung with .012 bronze Pyramids, and they highly complement the nature of it’s sound. This guitar has been used in a studio application by 2 different owners for the past 10 years. It is a very special sounding instrument, and is esoteric enough to excite even those who think they’ve seen it all.