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 National Grand Letar

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James Schmitt
Rang: Administrateur

Nombre de messages : 6042
Age : 101
Localisation : St Beat - Pyrenées
Date d'inscription : 04/07/2005

MessageSujet: National Grand Letar   Mar 16 Sep - 17:40

Letritia Kandle with the Grand Letar...

Here she is with the Small Letar

Here's Letritia Kandle with Paul Whiteman, who commissioned George Gershwin to write "Rhapsody in Blue"

Still steelin' after all these years - Letritia Kandle at 93...

The Grand Letar is a quad neck instrument with a one piece fretboard,
(the widest one ever made?) comprising of 3 six string necks and
one 8 string neck divided into two courses of 4 strings each.

Tuning is done with a lever similar to a piano tuning hammer.

Blade style 1930s pickups

While thats an unusual layout, the really unique nature of the Grand Letar is found
behind the mysterious louvre doors on the rear side of the instrument.
Built into the cabinet of the instrument are two 1930s Lansing field coil speakers , a tube amp and a dimmer.

What's a dimmer doing in there, you might ask?
Its there to illuminate the multiple light sources inside the cabinet and below the fretboard
(which is translucent!)

The Bakelite knobs look great!

In addition to the Grand Letar, Letritia Kandle also had a Small Letar...

The Small Letar is also from the mid 1930s, its a 29 string console steel guitar,
thats 3 seven string necks and 1 eight string neck.

The tuning machines are straight through banjo pegs

Thats one long pickup!

Each neck has a seperate output via seperate Amphenol jacks

Letritia who is now in her 90s and retired from performing in 1950, was a classically trained musician and played jazz on these instruments from the mid 1930s right though World War II until 1950.
We will be helping Paul to restore the Grand Letar and hopefully it will soon break its silence for the first time in over 50 years.

[quote="John Norris"]The National-Dobro amplifier, which was integrated into the Grand Letar, has now been refurbished by Jeff Mikols...

The tubes/valves used are as follows:

Preamp: 5 x 6A6 (including the drive tube)
Rectifier: 1 x 5Z3
Power amp: 2 x 6A3

There are four volume controls - one for each neck and two boost switches.
We added a fuse holder to replace the original which was housed in the mains plug and was hard to get to.

As you can see, the amp has a serial number but no model description...

We rewired the two 12" Lansing Field Coil speakers two weeks ago...

These speakers were built five years before the All Technical Service Company (Altec) bought Lansing in 1941...

...forming Altec-Lansing, whose speaker systems went on to power Woodstock and the Apple iPod in later years.

Now that the amp and speakers have been re-installed in the Grand Letar...

Some attention paid to the chrome, although its difficult not to damage other artifacts such as the original 1930s speaker grille cloth...

The biggest job which loomed large during this job was the built-in light-show, something which is unique to any instrument of this vintage. We believe it is the first ever instrument of any type with such a feature, certainly pre-dating the Rickenbacker light-show guitar by several decades.
When Paul first acquired this 1937 guitar from Letritia Kandle, there were four elements to it:
1. The quad neck National console guitar
2. The custom built 4 channel National amp
3. Some kind of dimmer rack
4. A mysterious looking padlocked box.

We first had a look at the dimmer rack...

Four large pots accompanied by rows of ON/OFF switches...


The rear side of this unit had a number of A/C sockets and a matrix of banana sockets, which reminded me of hot-patches on old-fashioned dimmers I had seen in theatres in Europe and North Africa in my days as a lighting tech on tours.

Opening the unit revealed four separate rheostats and a mess of perished and decayed wiring...

Our lead tech at Peterson, Sue Haslam, soon had it rewired and polished up...

The next thing to do was to find out what was in the mysterious locked box beside the amp...

Paul had to use boltcutters to open it...

Inside was a motor driving a train of gears linked to two copper plates... of which had a number of wires connected to it...

Having a vague idea as to how this unique aparatus worked, we proceeded, Sue rewired the wheel, we ordered new banana jacks...

Using period correct 1930s StroboConn gear oil (used on the very first tuners made by us in the 1930s), we brought the motor back to life after over 50 years of inactivity...

The Bodine Motor Co. is still building motors today, still at the same location in downtown Chicago.

The more we dissembled the guitar, the more hidden lighting cavities we found, and the more rotten cable we uncovered...

Glass panel after glass panel revealed more and more lights...

All had to be checked and rewired...

...then we discovered 24 lights under the fretboard...

...we thought we were almost done, until another 64 were revealed all around the apron of the guitar...

After work lasting weeks on over 160 lights on several circuits, we were getting very curious as to how (or if) the guitar would perform, so after patching the various cable looms to the rheostats and, in turn, to the mysterious motor driven apparatus, we threw the power on ..........................DISASTER!....... one of the rheostats started to burn, we had made a mistake in the dimmer patch.
Luckily Sue was able to save it, so after correcting the patch and testing the fretboard...

We carefully started to re-assemble the restored Grand Letar...

...until every cable was connected and every screw and bolt was fastened...

Then holding our collective breaths, we turned out the lights, fired up the amp.... and then we threw the switch on the light-show ............................................................................................................SHOWTIME!!

As the mysterious motor began to turn, the lights began to alter their hue beautifully by themselves, and Paul stepped forward to play the first notes on the legendary Grand Letar, awakened from a slumber of 58 years...

The weight of the Grand Letar itself is 265 lbs.
When packed in the custom built original National case, we're talking close to 400 lbs...

Many people seem interested in the amp, so here's more info:

Here's an overview...

The power tubes are Raytheons, the preamp tubes are for the most part from Sylvania and the tube guards were built by the Fred Goat Co.  in Brooklyn NY...

Here's a view of the amp's undercarriage and some of Jeff Mikol's work. The transformers were built by the Hadley Company out of Ventura CA, later of Los Angeles, CA...

Dernière édition par James Schmitt le Ven 31 Jan - 10:25, édité 2 fois
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Vincent le Bourdelles


Nombre de messages : 42
Localisation : Paris 15ème
Date d'inscription : 09/01/2007

MessageSujet: Re: National Grand Letar   Mer 17 Sep - 11:51

Shocked Inouïe !!
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MessageSujet: Re: National Grand Letar   Mer 17 Sep - 12:14

king Exceptionnel au niveau patrimonial, mais un monument de kitsch
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MessageSujet: Re: National Grand Letar   Mer 17 Sep - 13:35

Où mets tu les saucisses sur ton barbecue? lol!

c'est impressionnant.... et J-Marie tu as raison HYPRA SUPER KITCH

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MessageSujet: Re: National Grand Letar   Mer 17 Sep - 19:38

Jean Michel amène les saucisses , je débouche le Mouton-Rotschild!

Blageu à part, existe t-il des enregistrements de ce monument quelque part?
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MessageSujet: Re: National Grand Letar   Jeu 18 Sep - 20:31

c'est fou ce qu'on pouvait faire.....
quand la main d'oeuvre était pas chere ! Idea

c'est vraiment splendide
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Fulvio LECCA


Nombre de messages : 201
Localisation : Argenteuil France
Date d'inscription : 11/07/2005

MessageSujet: Re: National Grand Letar   Sam 20 Sep - 21:46

j'en veux une, elle ira tres bien avec ma chemise cowboy en satin!
sinon je serai obligé de monter des guirlandes de noel sous ma stringmaster!
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