8/30/2013

c.1935 Regal-made Kleartone Archtop Guitar


I worked on this guitar back in 2009 but recently did a fresh neck reset and setup on it. While not marked Regal, this is a clearly Regal-made instrument as are the majority of the other Kleartone fretted instruments I've seen in existence. It's a good-quality box and has a loud, bright, rich, sustained and forceful tone -- this thing really cuts and projects very well. It reminds me a lot of the Metro C archtop I worked on last December. These have a sort of singing high-end that reminds me of classical guitars in a way.

Materials aren't skimped on: solid spruce (press-arched) top, solid maple back and sides, and a good big old v-shaped neck of hard maple reminiscent of that 1920s Gibson shape. The fretboard and bridge are both nice-quality Brazilian rosewood and the board is radiused which gives it a more modern "top" feel to the neck.

It plays beautifully with low 1/16" treble, 3/32" bass action at the 12th fret.


Aside from a few scratches here and there, the original finish is in beautiful shape and the sunburst looks grand. This is a "typical" 16" lower bout archtop but the sides are slightly deeper than a comparable Gibson or Harmony which gives this a more substantial feel in the lap.

This guitar features a full 25 1/2" scale, but because the top is lightly ladder-braced (yes, ladder, not tonebar bracing!) I've strung it with 50w-11 strings. I've owned a couple of these guitars that I used for gigging and know they hold up just fine with 12s, but I like the zingier response and closed-chord feel of 11s on these long-scale Regals. I wouldn't string one of these with mediums, though.


Original bone nut... and a lovely pearloid/painted headstock veneer!


Medium-big frets, bound board, and nice pearl dot/diamond inlay. The nut on this is 1 3/4" so it makes a good fingerpicker, too.


I like the sort of chunky rosewood bridges found on these Regals.


Don't mind the sanding dust from the workshop I forgot to wipe off! Good tailpiece.


So, while all is good everywhere else, here's the bad: two long, ugly cracks on the back. They're only cosmetically worrying, but they are there.

The one on the upper bout is really not as much of an eyesore, but the one that covers the whole length of the back (pretty much) is raised-up towards the lower bout area. I've added cleats recently to keep this stable for the future, but over one of the winters since I last worked on this guitar in 2009, the wood must have dried up and shifted a bit. That, plus some murky filler glue, meant that it wasn't going to pop back into place easily, especially since it's glued-up "off" now.



Good-quality tuners. The hardware is all original on this fella.


I added a brand-new heel cap. I'd made a holly one for this a while back but wanted something more period-appropriate. Cream plastic seems to agree with the aged binding.


Here you can see the worst part of the longer back crack, where it's been glued and is stable, but doesn't line up nicely.






It comes with an original chip case that's in great shape.

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