7/31/2010

c.1935 Regal Radio Tone Hawaiian Guitar


This is a really cool old Regal "Radio Tone" Hawaiian guitar. I didn't know this before, but apparently these Regal-made (and sold) "Radio Tone" instruments were only for sale in a package with lessons. No wonder they are a bit scarcer than others...!

I did a neck reset on this fellow, reglued the top bracing, installed a new ebony pyramid-style bridge, new saddle, setup, cleaning, etc. etc. It's a nice player's Hawaiian lap guitar now (this one was sold as such -- it's a square neck) and has a nice, loud, and projecting tone with very open qualities (probably due to the "transverse" ladder bracing).


Top is solid spruce and the back, sides, and neck appear to be solid maple. There's a nice sunburst on the top and back with black-stained sides and neck.


Body is bound on the top, back, and soundhole.


Fun headstock stencil. Original bone nut (though I did have to recut it as it had a chip on one edge).


Misc. "ebonized" fretboard with nickel-silver frets.


New ebony pyramid bridge. The original bridge was savaged, but the original pins remained, which I've reused. The original bridge also had bolts underneath some MOP dots (original). I've used that again here along with the original dots to give it more of the original feel. Saddle is a new bone one.


Like most of these period Regals, this guitar is featherweight and very responsive.



What you don't see on these back photos is the nice luminescence of the grain coming through.




Fun original open-backed Kluson tuners w/original buttons. After oiling them up and a little cleaning of the shafts, they work perfectly.


Original end pin.




7/29/2010

c.1890 Lyon & Healy 5-String Banjo


This is an old gut-strung, boat-heeled 5-string banjo c.1890 or so, made by Lyon & Healy and sold by some misc. distributor. This one happens to be a customer's instrument and I simply did the minimum required to get it up and playing like it should -- new Remo Renaissance head, new bone nut, take-apart and put-back-together, setup, etc. Only minimal cleaning and light oiling of the fretboard and neck.

Oh, and a new 5th peg.


New Renaissance head, new bridge. Funky 60s 6-string (guitar banjo) tailpiece... but the extra downpressure sure gives this banjo some pop.


New bone nut, thin ebony fretboard and headstock veneer.


Nickel-silver frets. Forgot to mention I did a light fret dress, too. Unfortunately for this neck there's a small warp to it due to steel string use at one point.




Neck and pot look like maple with some stain to me. The pot is spunover on the bottom but the top of the pot is simply shaped wood -- so no tone ring effect on this fellow, but it does have that snappy, mellow, woody and poppy tone.


Nice quality spring-loaded c.1920s/30s Grover pegs. These replaced what would have been original ebony pegs.


Boat-style heel gives this a minstrel feel.


And no neck brace -- instead it's a couple of screws right into the heel.




Yessir, if'n one was looking for a fun old time banjo for gut or nylon strings, this would be a good choice as a road, camping, or show instrument... feels great and plays nice but isn't in super condition so you don't have to worry about adding some more scratches.

This banjo is the same model, essentially, as this banjo (click for link).

7/28/2010

c.1965 EKO-made "RuDelle" 12 String Guitar


I used to gig with a VOX-branded EKO-built 12 string guitar that was pretty much like this one but in a slightly "bigger brother" version, and pin-bridged. This guitar brings those memories right back. It's got a big, bright, jangly tone and the neck handles like an electric 12 string neck... fast. This slightly smaller body shape and tailpiece gives it a Gibson B25-12 feel... not bad at all!


Features include a bolt-on, solid mahogany 3-piece neck (center strip for reinforcement and also a truss rod AND steel t-bar support), bound rosewood fretboard, spruce (possibly laminate?) top, and laminated, wildly-flamed mahogany back and sides, with a non-braced, press-arched back (think Guilds or Framus).


Oh, it's also got a zero fret... and the board is radiused...


With good simple fret dots.


And an adjustable saddle. I'll bet this would roar even more if the saddle were replaced with a hunk of bone or Tusq, but it is nice to do setup on the fly.


Label inside. Oh, right -- forgot to mention -- EKO is an Italian brand. They made a lot of 60s VOX-branded acoustic & acoustic-electric products as well as their own brands... and apparently this bizarre "RuDelle" brand.



Real pretty mahogany. Too bad there's loads of finish weather cracks as well as some handling finish cracks. Bound top and back and soundhole in cream binding, too.


Lovely mahogany for the neck! And original tuners working nicely still.


Electric-style neck set gives really easy access right up the board.






And here's that honking-big neck block inside with a correspondingly honking-big heel with loads of reinforcement. Good stuff to see if you're concerned about longevity.

7/24/2010

c.1960 Airline by Kay Guitar


Another cool old guitar, made by Kay for Montgomery Ward's Airline brand, with big old open tone and (now) easy playability. This guitar, while I indicate c.1960, is more than likely a late 1950s guitar. It's got a nice build to it very similar to other 50s Kays... and as we all know... Kay products started to suffer in the 1960s. Its body shape is the same as this Galiano labeled Hawaiian guitar I worked on previously.


I did a setup, fret dress, cleaning, etc. new bone nut and saddle, too, and new bridge pins. Otherwise it's all original. Materials include a good solid spruce, ladder-braced top, what looks to be either birch or maple back and sides (with some curly figure on the back, actually), and a rosewood fretboard and bridge. The top is an attractive tobacco-burst finish and the back and sides are a darker nut brown color. Guitar is bound top, back and soundhole with cream trim and a matching cream pickguard.


Funky "Airline" sticker -- not much effort on Montg. Ward's part!




This is a player's guitar for sure and sounds great picked hard as a bluegrass machine, fingerpicked blues-style, or used as vocal accompaniment. Like a lot of ladder braced guitars, it has growl and character. This guitar also has a 25 3/4" (long) scale, which makes it really responsive.




I'm guessing birch back & sides -- check out the light curly figure in the wood, though. Not bad.


Original Kluson Deluxe 3-on-a-strip tuners. Nice!







Overall a great little campfire, go-anywhere, or use gigging guitar. Solid build and good robust sound. I like.