c.1935 National-Dobro 6107A Amplifier & Electric Hawaiian Steel Set

The first half of the 1930s brought with them the earliest days of amplification and a quick evolution of both guitar and amplifier design. Rickenbacker’s first Frying Pan steels were marketed in 1932 and are generally considered to be the first commercially produced electric guitars. Some four short years later, Gibson’s ES-150 was the first commercially successful true “Spanish” guitar to incorporate a pickup system.

National and Dobro were both very much in the ‘Make-Guitars-Louder’ game and, after the two companies rejoined in 1932, great effort was made to get a jump into electrically amplified instruments. The company’s 6107A Amplifier was likely first offered in 1933, making it one of the very earliest guitar amplifiers ever made. The Electric Hawaiian Steel appears to have been introduced in 1935 and featured a blade pickup with horseshoe magnet very much like the unit found in Rickenbacker’s Electro A-22 “Frying Pan” guitars. This steel carries the serial number N274. It is of the first variation of the model and features only a volume control and no pickup height adjustment. Apart from a home-job tuner button replacement on the 3rd string and the original owner’s SSN inscribed in the headstock this steel is in excellent condition, completely original, and perfectly functional. Its original case is in excellent condition as well.

The National-Dobro 6107A Amplifier is entirely original and in excellent working order. It features a Utah field coil speaker, original RCA tubes, original handle and chicken-foot coverplate. Output is about 5 or 6 watts, and the tone is rich, dark, and creamy. The amplifier’s serial number is 5303, which is likely a Webster Electric number rather than a National Dobro number as the amplifier was manufactured for National Dobro by Webster Electric of Racine WI. We are unable to offer more accurate dating than 1933-5.

This set has been in the original local owner’s family since new. It is a wonderfully preserved set and an excellent example of one of the very earliest electrically amplified guitars and guitar amplifiers.