8/04/2013

c.1945 Regal O-size Guitar


This poor, poor guitar has been through a lot. It came to me by way of a trade with Mr. Ben and has been neglected in a corner of the workshop since it arrived a while back. I was apprehensive about starting in on this guy because it had been through much abuse and a lot of DIY repairs which were well-intentioned but many had failed. This guitar won't be for sale as I don't want to be liable for any of the older repairs failing in the future, but it sure will make a nice campfire and "on hand" instrument for jams. It has a lovely fingerpicking tone.

I glued up all the structural problems Friday night (loose braces, many loose seams, reglued the bridge, recleated poorly cleated cracks all over, etc.) and finished the setup on it today in-between popping frets into the long-awaited, much-asked-on Weymann mandola listed in the upcoming inventory.

The body shape, build, and bracing could be mistaken for a 1920s or 30s Regal product (transverse ladder braced) but the neck and headstock shape and materials clearly mark this as a wartime or later Regal (it's unbranded, but believe me, this one is certainly a Regal). It's a typical "o size" instrument with a 13" lower bout and 12th fret neck join. The neck is quite different from earlier Regals, though, in that it has a narrow nut (1 9/16"), flatter rear profile (rather than hard V), and a big slab-style radiused rosewood fretboard. The frets themselves are also the 40s/50s medium-large type rather than the tall and thin 30s type. These changes give it more of a 50s Kay feel, albeit with a short (24 1/4") scale.


The woods used are all solid and it has a much-cracked mahogany back and sides with a much-cracked spruce top. The neck appears to be stained poplar or maple. The bridge and fretboard are that fun, streaky, grainy Brazilian rosewood that's seen a lot on postwar guitars.


Original bone nut and funky headstock shape. The "solid" headstock is a design change vs. the old slotted headstock one would expect to find on a Regal with a body type like this.


Pearl dots. The neck is dead straight and the frets were almost unused, though they still needed a light fret level and dressing.


The only bound bit on the guitar is the soundhole and even that has succumbed to the hard life...!


The two screws are replacements for the original screws that were in use before the bridge reglue. I'm not real fond of the aesthetics, though, and may put some pearl dots in.

The bone saddle is original but I've shaved it down a bunch. Now look at the pins... oh, my! Yes, in my haste to reglue the bridge I forgot to check if it was actually glued on-centerline to begin with -- and of course it wasn't after the plethora of modifications and settling over time!

I backfilled the old holes and drilled some new pin holes with a spacing to match the neck's angle. Oh well! At least I checked for intonation when I reglued the old bridge on... it's spot on... and because of the straight neck, this has buttery-low action. Minus the glare of the sun, it's actually harder to see the filled-in old pin holes.


The 'hog used is pretty nice stuff. What you can't see is the long repaired crack that runs the length of this entire side.




There's at least one layer of additional varnish on top of the original finish.


While Kluson tuner types were original to the guitar, these particular Klusons were not (judging by the wear marks). The openback strip-type Klusons of the mid-40s seem to have been the original gear. I'm tempted to pop these 50s Kluson Deluxes off and pass them on to some Gibson collector in need of original spec tuners.



Obviously, someone tried to get away with a tailpiece hanger on this guit. The endpin is new. At some point I'm going to replace these mismatched plastic pins with ebony. I just do not like plastic pins on my gear.

2 comments:

Taylor said...

Take $50 for it?

Antebellum Instruments said...

Go fish, brother... :D

I have 3x that into it just in work time!

When I traded for this it was because I'm into old Regals, especially from the 40s, where they're still built like 30s guitars but have the modern conveniences of faster necks and slimmer nuts.