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.


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...

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