2/22/2013

c.1935 Regal Fancy Squareneck Dobro Resonator Guitar




This is a rarer model of mid-30s squareneck Dobro, sporting a bound ebony fretboard and a mahogany body (laminate top/back, solid sides). It was branded as a Regal originally (a trace of the green crown logo is still up there on the headstock) but is otherwise pretty much identical in build to a style 37 Dobro. The biggest difference is that this guitar uses the (much classier-looking, to my eyes) "00-size" Regal body shape like on this Diamond Head acoustic rather than the similar but more squared-off typical Dobro body shape.

Internal construction is the same, too, with a sturdy soundwell and half-body dowel running from the neck to the interior of the soundwell. For whatever reason, this guitar has a charmed tone -- sweet and open with tons of sustain and a good warm roundness and good volume.


There was a lot to do on this guitar to get it up-to-snuff. I had to reset the dowel into the neck pocket, remove some screws added to the neck's heel, reglue part of the fretboard, glue and cleat up a lower-bout bass side crack (more on that, later), reglue the main support for the dowel in the body (these are almost always loose!), and of course clean up and slightly reshape the cone where its edges had settled over time. I also did a bunch of cleaning, set it up, and did some other varied work that isn't crossing my mind at the moment.

The instrument itself shows plenty of use-wear, scuffs and scratches, and finish crackle all over. It's not as obvious in the pictures since I'd freshly cleaned it, but it's definitely been used like most of these have been. It looks great, though, with all that fun "warm" patina that one desires on an old instrument.


See the ghost of the old Regal label? The tuners have rust on the plates but I've lubed them up and they work great.

Original bone nut, here. And speaking of original -- this is all-original except for a replacement (parts-bin) cream endpin. I even managed to salvage the original maple saddles by repairing the D-string slot.


Ebony fretboard with flush frets and pearl dots -- classy! String height is even throughout, just as it should be. The neck is one big whopping piece of mahogany and is straight.


Some of the mahogany shows a bit of curl/flame here and there. The hardware shows some tarnish and wear but looks good.



Here's the patent mark on the coverplate. You can see some of the wear/tarnish here.


This simpler-than-normal tailpiece is actually a lot better in practice than the more usual National/Dobro-style ones since it applies pressure on the bridge a little bit lower down than those and also keeps the tailpiece itself off the coverplate (and thus removing any weird rattles and buzzes) by wrapping the strings under rather than over the top of the tailpiece.



Who doesn't like a mellow "faded" sunburst to the top and back?


Those two little darker patches on the heel are where I removed some (now, unnecessary, since the dowel is reset) screws. That's backfill of mahogany powder and glue with some finish over it.




I'll tell you what -- this is a great-sounding, great-playing instrument. I've worked on a number of 30s Dobros (squareneck and roundneck) and I have to say that this has one of the sweetest tones I've heard from one of these so far. It's a bit less just-forward and more nuanced than usual.




Here you can see that side crack. This was wide-open when I got it with the sides not matching up top to bottom. I managed to get it glued-up spot on but it must have slipped a little while it was drying up because the edges aren't perfect. It's a good, stable repair, though, since it's also got cleats all along its length internally.


Here's the cone when I first took it out. Note that this is the "vented" type with 4 holes in the center section. This cleaned up beautifully and any kinks/dents in it have been fixed for stability and the proper "lip" on the outside bent back into it before reassembly.

It's a good-to-go, original cone!

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