4/01/2012

c.1910 Regal-made Tailpiece "Parlor" Guitar





Yessir, I love me them tailpiece guitars.

This one was made by Regal around 1910 and sports typical "Chicago" style purfling lifted from the furniture trade, a solid (wide grain) spruce top, and solid birch back/sides/neck with a faux-rosewood painted finish on the body.

This has Regal's typical modified ladder bracing which features only two braces on the lower bout -- one right under the bridge that also serves as a "bridge plate" on the pin-bridge models and one set at an angle ("transverse bracing") near the soundhole. This bracing pattern gives these old Regals good volume and an enormous, saucy tonality.

These tailpiece-style steel-string flattop "parlor" size models have a tone that's halfway between an archtop's balance, cut, and zing and a pin-bridge guitar's mellow warmth and lingering overtones. It's a good compromise and especially for the time they were built, a very good design because the maker could use the exact same ultra-light bracing pattern and build, but plus a pin bridge, to make an instrument suited to gut/nylon strings.

All that aside, my work on this instrument included a neck reset, fret level/dress, replacement bridge (slightly modified an old 1900s one from my parts bin), new end pin (ebony), setup, cleaning, and light hairline crack repair/cleats to the top (they're invisible in the pics! I glued up the center seam and a couple other very tight hairlines next to it -- typical dryness cracks).


In old photos one can find these guitars popping up in the hands of scores of old-time and blues musicians. They certainly have the right tone for the music.

This one's a joy to play and quite responsive. Don't mind the slightly played-in strings I put on it. They were the only set of DR Sunbeams (50w-11) that I had left and I wanted to treat it right.


New bone nut.


Original nickel-silver frets, pearl position dots -- and -- contrary to usual Regal parameters, this has a rosewood fretboard rather than the more usual dyed maple or pearwood board. I love the sapwood color change!


This guit is bound on the top, back, and soundhole and has plenty of that nice multicolored purfling. There's a section on the top treble waist where the purfling is missing, however, but it's small and filled in.


This looks like ebony but it's actually a rosewood bridge with a fret saddle.


Original simple tailpiece.



It's got looks! ...and it's lightweight, too.



Nice purfling on the back -- around the edge and a center-strip as well.



Neck is nice and properly joined, now.




See that faux-Brazilian rosewood paintjob? Pretty convincing from a few feet away.




Tuners are all lubed and set to go for another 100+ years.


New endpin.

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