In 1927, the National String Instrument Company began producing the first resonator instruments. Over the years, the National brand became so synonymous with resonator instruments that many blues players who prefer their unique sound simply refer to any resonator as a "national guitar." Intended to offer players a louder voice, the innovative resonator produces an interesting, warm sound that you won't get from anything else.
The "Wood Rocket" came about at the request of roots musician Steve James who wanted a wood-body version of the popular all-metal ResoRocket. Wood-body resonators combine the punch and stability of the metal-bodied Nationals with a lightweight feel and a warmer, mellower sound. You still get the authentic growl of the spun aluminum cone, but it's a resonator sound that is more controlled and capable of more subtlety.
This 2013 National Wood Rocket is #023, and it has "Steve James" written on the label. It has a fancier cover plate than you find on the regular ResoRocket WB, but otherwise its specs are the same. This Wood Rocket has a National Slimline pickup installed. The Slimline is a low-profile, dual coil humbucker pickup, and it's a great fit for electrifying this beast.
This 2013 National Wood Rocket shows some play wear and signs of use, but it's in nice shape all around (see photos) The metal looks tarnished and played-in. Most of the wear is in the general playing area, but there's also a scuff on the edge of the headstock. It looks like the previous owner had a little trouble with the input jack, and there's a chrome jackplate that doesn't appear to be original. Because of the jackplate, the finish and top ply of the mahogany is slightly cracked along the surface. Since the it's heavy-duty laminate construction, the jack still feels good and sturdy.
This 2013 National Wood Rocket includes its original case. It currently has strap buttons for Schaller strap locks, and at some point, a strap button lived on the back of the heel. It has a nice, playable setup, and it produces a powerful, yet articulate resonator sound.