c.1930 Regal (beat) Octofone

This is a pretty beat-up old Regal Octofone, probably c.1930 (they made them into the 40s). I received it in trade for an old Japanese electric guitar I had converted into a 9-string guitar (ie, 3 plain bass wound strings, 6 treble strings, like 3/4 of a twelve string). At ANY rate, for further information about these peculiarities, which are essentially 8-string tenor guitars or early-style octave mandolins, check out this old post (click for link).

This one had obviously had some "work" done to it -- refinished, grimed-up top, loose braces, a newer bridge installed, sagging belly, and over time some tough strings gave the neck a little warp. I had previously set this instrument up for the customer who later traded it in, so when I got it back it was all set to go, but my work before included: fret dress, brace re-glues, recut of the newer bridge, installation of a period parts-bin tailpiece, and general setup. Its action is around 1/8" at the 12th fret, but because of the slight warp it's got more height than usual at the 5th to 10th frets.

Because of the scale length and lighter string gauges (do NOT use regular octave mandolin strings on these -- they're far too lightly built) it feels comfortable to play, though, and is a great chord-monster with a warm, sweet tone.

Tuners are period, but they've got "two left feet" meaning one set tunes up backwards from normal.

Someone installed a "12th fret" dot at the 13th fret... nice...

...and I'll bet you there were rhinestones in those divots around the soundhole at one point.

Decent ebony/bone bridge, but the previous fella who "worked" on it hadn't fit it right which meant the tone was lousy.

Strap buttons (newer) at end pin area and heel. I love the body shape on these guys -- fit nice in the lap and look practically medieval.


Wornoutmorgan said...

wow. Never seen one before. How are they tuned? What (not mandolin, you say) strings do you use? Hello, my name is Anthony. I enjoy looking at your work from afar.

Antebellum Instruments said...

Anthony: They can be tuned however you like... that was actually the advertising gimmick for them... use as a uke, tenor guitar, mandola, octave mandolin, mandocello, plectrum banjo tuning, etc. I use GHS Irish Bouzouki sets 40w to 11 with octaves on the lower courses, tuned to GDAE or GDAD. This brings out the better aspects of the instrument -- its warmth and resonance, especially useful for backing in folk groups.