10/07/2011

c.1945 Regal-made? Mel Bay Archtop Guitar





I'm pretty sure this is a Regal-made archtop guitar dating to around 1945-50 or so. The 3-piece maple/mahogany/maple neck, medium-light colored rosewood (Brazilian) fretboard, fancy deco pearl fret markers, and general build/looks is all Regal -- including the 24 3/4" scale length (they used that and 25 1/4" a lot around that time).

Where it departs from the typical Regal mold is in the fact that the top and back are both laminate... most old Regals I work on are all-solid, but considering that the "original" Regal went bunk in 1953 (err, correct me if I'm wrong) this may have been a cost-cutting or production-time-saving measure. Ply is pretty stable after being molded into an arched shape and can sound darn good (consider: the 40s/50s Stradolin mandolins that are so coveted were mostly ply).

At any rate, this guitar looks fantastic (it's all-original), plays nice (after a bit of work) and has a big, loud, up-front, and nicely sustained tone. It definitely sounds like an archtop! Lots of attack and good balance string-to-string for chop chords and lead work.



This guitar suffered a headstock crack at one point. The repair job was workmanly and is plenty sturdy. Note that the headstock veneer is actually red-stained birdseye maple. Cool!

Bone nut.



These are actually a whitish pearl inlay. They look superb! Board is a medium-toned Brazilian rosewood.


Big brass frets are original.



This looks like a Harmony-style bridge to me (which confuses my maker-meter), and it's missing its adjuster wheels because the neck angle has changed over time (and has a previous, slightly down-angle reset). I've installed a couple washers on the treble side to set the action height correctly.


Simple, sturdy tailpiece.


Nice f-holes!



The sides on this guitar are solid mahogany while the back is ply mahogany (with an interior of ply maple!).


REALLY cool tuners. Are these Klusons? -- I'm guessing. Note the mahogany "stripe" down the middle of the neck -- 3 piece for strength.


Typical heel-cap/heel shape of 40s/50s Regals. Note the slight amount of excess glue in the seam from a previous neck reset.




Bound on top and bottom in cream celluloid.




New ebony end pin.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

what sort of strings do you use to get that sound on the recording of this instrument. I have a similar archtop and I am struggling to find strings that give the right balance of tone versus playability.

Antebellum Instruments said...

I use DR Sunbeam 50w to 11s standard on most guitars now. They're round core strings which means: more fundamentals and less overtones, purer sweet tone, and much easier playability because the windings move easily on the core which means a springier/slinkier feel and easier bending, too. Also less tension at the same mass, etc.

Anonymous said...

How wide is the lower bout?

Anonymous said...

Svarez - argentine