6/24/2011

c.1935 Bluebird by Regal Tenor Guitar


Judging by the bridge design I'd say this was made by Regal (it originally had a fret saddle, too). Judging by other features, I'd say this was made by Harmony. But... because Regal was really the only maker to use this style bridge with their very particular painted (no dyed) black finish for it and particular "wings" -- I'm going to call this a Regal build, probably around c.1935. It's branded Bluebird, but that's just a reseller's name.

I worked on this instrument for a customer who also happens to be a diehard uke player, so I set it up for GCEA tuning using 22w, 28w, 12, 09 strings. This gives you an octave below regular uke pitch on the wound strings and the same octave as uke on the plain strings... this is a tuning I very much favor on tenor guitar as it gives a chiming, sweet tone that retains the "tenor guitar-ness" of the almost-same-pitch CGDA tuning... while having all the comfort of uke chords and feel.


Work included a new Tusq saddle, neck reset, fret dress, new rosewood nut, and installation of some new Grover geared pegs to make tuning with the steel strings easier (this came with an assortment of '30s through '60s friction pegs at the headstock). Oh, also some new bridge pins.







It's a cute little guitar, made entirely of solid birch, ladder braced, and in a "size 5" body, so deeper and a little larger than a baritone uke but not by much.

A lot of folks think this sort of size tenor guitar is a baritone uke, but the first baritone ukes were built a lot later. Typically nylon strings will sound terrible on an instrument like this, which is built for the heavier tension and tonality of steel.





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