11/03/2011

Reso Trio Part 1 - c.1930 Collegiate Faux Resonator Guitar





This is part one of three beat-up resonator guitars I worked on for a customer.

This guitar was likely made by Regal around c.1930. Most faux-reso guitars of this type show up with the Slingerland or May Bell brands and a slightly larger version of this guitar with upscale appointments and full secondary soundboard was marketed as the "Cathedranola." This simpler, smaller model shows up more frequently under various names -- this one using the "Collegiate" name common from around c.1930-35 or so.


Now, this is only sort-of a faux resonator guitar... because it actually has a "resonator" -- but the resonator is a circle-cut piece of spruce inset on the rigid plywood birch top rather than the more usual spun aluminum cone one sees on Nationals or the like.


Here you can see it with the cover removed. Work on this guitar included a neck reset, fret dress, bridge adjustment/touchup (it had a huge gob of glue all over it that I removed, sanded down, then re-"ebonized"), and setup.

All three of these guitars that I'm going to be posting in a row had a significant amount of botched "repair" work done by someone who obviously had absolutely no clue what they were doing, thus are grungy and grimy and have some issues.


This "ebonized" maple bridge and shape are hallmarks of Regal construction. I haven't seen the style used by any other maker. I love the design of this faux-reso, though, because it actually does its job well -- the spruce disc that's been separated from the top of the instrument really does vibrate on its own to create slightly more volume than is typical for a guitar this size -- with a nice chunky punch and cut that I associate with archtop guitars but with a more lingering sustain and bottom end. Very clever and ideal for fingerpicking or blues.


I serviced the original tuners and luckily was able to re-use the original bone nut.



Note the wacky and weird extra inlays added by some owner at... some point.


The soundholes on these guitars look way cool.


And the sort of acid-etched design looks darn fun, too.


Here you can see the bridge, all re-ebonized and with some vintage cream-colored pins scoured from my parts bin.



Unfortunately, this guitar was poorly topped with gloppy finish. It's not so noticeable on the top but the back and sides are thick with it.



Note all the crummy stuff from a previous "neck set" -- if you could call it that, sheesh -- had to peel off a bunch of stuff here before doing my own neck set, which, thank you, will remain stable for the foreseeable future.






Overall this is a cool guitar, and of the three I'm featuring here, is the best player as it has a straight neck (typical of sturdy old Regals).

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