1/31/2011

c.1925 Regal Fancy Soprano Ukulele


This is a drop-dead gorgeous, crack-free, all-original (save replacement vintage 12th fret), solid-wood uke built by Regal in the mid-20s. It's unmarked but undeniably a Regal instrument in terms of build, dimensions, etc. For reference look up "Red Head" uke (another Regal product from the same time) on Google and you'll find a similar model to this one.

At any rate, I was under the impression that these were made from Hawaiian koa, but now I'm not so sure. I think they may in fact be made from curly/flamed Cuban mahogany, which has many of the colors and three-dimensionality of koa's grain and tone but also has the more straight and even-grained appearance of typical mahogany. And... the stuff was used a lot in the 1920s and 30s... it's much scarcer now.

Whatever the progeny of the assumed-mahogany, this uke is all solid and a beaut that looks as good as it sounds and plays.


Check out the curl/flame on that top! Yum!

It's bound on the top edge and soundhole with black celluloid and has inlaid multicolored wood purfling around the top edge, soundhole, and also right down the middle of the neck and headstock, for a glorious, colorful, and folksy-classy look. It recalls the "rope bound" Hawaiian ukes but with a much more eye-catching combination of colors (red/green/yellow).


Here's the sun showing off that grain.


My work included pulling the bridge and regluing it, a setup, cleaning, and popping in a new (vintage parts bin) 12th fret. Like Hawaiian ukes of the time, there's no fretboard on the uke -- the frets are inlaid directly into the neck itself.


The finish is in pretty good shape.




Vibrant looks!




And the back is as pretty as the front! Ooh la la!


OH! And what's that? Something that's almost ALWAYS missing on these older ukes -- original pegs... these being a transitional type that's a brass shaft with green bakelite button -- but it's not a screwed-in friction peg, but rather one that's turned and lightly pushed in to hold tension -- just like violin or old wooden friction pegs -- but the machining of the brass shaft and the brass ferrule set into the headstock means that action on the peg is quite nice and they turn quite well and hold much better than a typical wood peg. They're also very lightweight.


Good neck set.





Here's the only real "issue" -- some finish disturbance at the end block -- looks like it either got too hot on the end or some sort of chemical reaction happened with something that splattered it. Barely noticeable except in full light, and only on the side/end block join.


A winner!

Sound is sweet, rich, loud, and has a very bell-like clarity.

5 comments:

Howlin' Hobbit said...

yours is about the only site that stokes my UAS.

that's one beautiful old uke!

Antebellum Instruments said...

Hobbit: Tehehe... I WANT this one. But I know I can't HAVE it. My own personal hell... or heaven? Who knows!!!

karl said...

Lovely! The soundhole looks like it dropped a few inches. Nice Gibsonesque pointed headstock. And the binding calls for the Spectrum song!

Chuck said...

wow, really nice -- is this for sale?

Antebellum Instruments said...

Chuck: Long since sold -- sorry!