6/08/2013

c.1935 Regal Le Domino "Big Boy" Archtop Guitar


This is a customer's guitar that was down here for work, so hands off!

That said, this is a Le Domino guitar from the early to mid 1930s, made by Regal, and was the biggest and boldest-looking archtop in that line of instruments. It's roughly 000-sized with deeper sides and a flat back but has a big old press-arched top. There's some misleading info on the net in a couple places about these having laminate tops -- they're not. All the wood in this guitar is solid.

These cool old guits are getting somewhat desirable on the vintage market. I mean, how could they not? They've got a ton of Depression-era bling and sound great, too! This has a wide nut (1 7/8") and a big old v-shaped neck which, combined with the balanced, honky, gutsy mid-range tonality, makes an excellent fingerpicking blues guitar.

My work included a neck reset, brace reglues, seam repairs on the back near the heel and also near the endpin area, fret level and dress, and general setup. It plays great and has a longer 25 3/8" scale which puts some good tension on the fairly light strings I used (50w-11). I'm pretty sure this would handle 12s just fine but I like to go easy on old guitars with long scales. It certainly doesn't need the extra tension to sound bombastic.


Miraculously, the top has no cracks.


Original bone nut, cool stencils, and a new set of StewMac repro tuners. The owner sent along some old ones but we opted to go with these since he'd been happy with them on a guitar I'd sold him (this Le Domino) a while back.


Bound, dyed-maple fretboard -- and it has those excellent domino decals.


The gold-foil backing on the decal around the soundhole looks really cool.

A note to the wise, though -- never, ever, ever rest a sweaty finger on these old decals while working on the guitar. The small "grey spot" on the decal near the treble end of the fretboard was my own mistake. I planted my finger there for a sec while finishing off the fret dress and pulled a tiny bit off with the tip of my finger. Sigh! I'm always terrified of decals on old guitars as they come up so, so, so easily.


I managed to re-use the original bridge (which had been cut down) by properly fitting it to the top and then installing a new, compensated, bone saddle to give more string height.


Both the top and back edges are bound.




So, let's talk wood: solid spruce top, solid birch back and sides, and probably a poplar neck under that black finish. The board and bridge, however, are both dyed maple. The back has a couple of smaller really tight hairline cracks that didn't need attention.



See the crack on the upper bout side? That was an older repair. I added some cleats where I could, though, to help keep it from spreading or opening up again.


And there's the Regal label...

No comments: