11/30/2013

c.1935 Regal-made Kingston 000-size Guitar



Regal made this type of squashed, 15" wide (000 size) body from the mid 30s into the demise of the original company in the 50s. They fit tenor and 6 string necks to it and used it with a pin bridge or a floating type, the latter being the kind used on this guitar. It seems to have originally been a counterpoint instrument to Gibson's Kalamazoo KG-11 models but with an even more extremely-bulbous lower bout. The same general design was used for instruments sold under the Washburn brand, among others, as well.

This particular unit came to me needing a neck reset, brace replacement on the back, a new bridge, new nut, tuners, and a fret level/dress, all of which has been done. I also reglued some seams but there was definitely some seam creep and patchy old repairs to the lower-bout back/side seam in its past.




The guit is extremely lightweight and extremely-lightly braced. There are two braces on the top and a thin "bridge plate" wide brace. It's got a longer 25 3/8" scale length coupled to a 14-fret join and 1 11/16" nut with a generous mellow-v shape to the back of it.

Something magic goes on with this guitar in the way it was built: the trapeze-style floating bridge design, mixed with a quite light set of strings (50w-11 or lighter), and the squashed-body plus wide lower bout makes an extremely projecting, brutally loud instrument. This thing is just as loud if not louder than most older resonator guitars I've come across. This is no surprise to me, having come to be familiar with these old floating-tailpiece Regals (they are an efficient speaker, basically), but this particular example is surprising.

The only other instrument I've held that has comparable bite and sting (as well as oodles of volume) for lead work in a group (and a similar warm but zingy Selmer-style voice) is a D-hole Shelley Park that's owned by a friend of mine. I'm really wanting to try a set of Argentines on it as the 80/20 extra lights sound good... but I wonder... I wonder...!

Update: I've got some Argentines in 11 gauge on it -- yummy warmth coming from the basses and a very Selmer-style sting happening, now. Less sustain on the lower strings as expected, however, with the Argentines.


This guy has the usual headstock for solid-stock Regals of the time. It's both large and imposing but pretty simple. The "Kingston" brand is simply a distributor's mark.

New bone nut. Note the lack of finish just ahead of the nut -- there was an ugly plastic contraption installed here with excess super-glue which robbed some finish when it came off. No worries, but typical...


The board is radiused and uses ebonized maple (typical for Regals). I added the clay side-dots.


Simple rosette with a thin, glued-on black pickguard. There's a tremendous amount of use-wear and some washboarding here and there on the top. It looks well-used but not too abused: there are no cracks except for a tiny pickguard-shrink crack near the high E string.


I replaced the original (terrible) floating bridge with a new, rosewood, compensated unit. To keep it from sliding around I've also countersunk some tiny screws into its wings that couple it to the top. It's nice not to have to retune after some guitar-pounding due to the bridge slipping!


The whole guitar is finished in a sunburst style but the back and sides are solid birch while the top is solid spruce.



The serial number is meaningless to me... but a new set of StewMac repro "Golden Age" tuners ($42.31 plus S&H for the black knobs, if you're curious) really improves upon the cheapo Chinese units this came to me with. I've upgraded most of my gigging instruments that are older with these "Golden Age" machines -- they're great.


Since this guitar has replaced a "3rd line" acoustic that's been hanging around my stable, I added an ebony strap button at the heel. This has such a big heel that it's impractical to mount it on the side (as usual) since the strap would jut out 3 inches from the body when it curled around the heel's side.





New ebony endpin... and note the moved-over tailpiece. These guitars tend to have misplaced tailpieces from the factory which makes the string-angle not 100% unless moved about. Someday I'll get around to filling the old holes!



The back had several missing/broken old braces. I've replaced 3 of them with 2 "strapping" style braces of the type Harmony was fond of using. These are easy enough to install from the inside without removing the back and do the job just fine.

2 comments:

Mark said...

Hi. I have the identical kingston guitar. I have been trying to find out what it is for years until today. You see, Mine doesn't have the kingston label on the headstock because it had been snapped off at some point,fixed and painted over. Mine also has Wurlitzer stamped inside the soundhole, so I assummed it was a wurlitzer. There is '0' info on 30s wurlys so you see my confusion? Anyway mine has been WELL played,has a lot of miles on it[literally & figuratively] and it shows, But I've never played another one quite like it.I have martin sealed tuners 3 singles per side, and a Gibson tune-o-matic bridge [anchored in the top as well] and I use fender bullet .10 gauge strings.It sounds amazing, and everyone says it has it's very own sound> I love the ol girl. Unfortunately, She got dropped recently, and is going to need hospitalization when I get some cash. Well, I'm glad to know finally what she is. Thanks! mark

Mark said...

Hi. I have the identical kingston guitar. I have been trying to find out what it is for years until today. You see, Mine doesn't have the kingston label on the headstock because it had been snapped off at some point,fixed and painted over. Mine also has Wurlitzer stamped inside the soundhole, so I assummed it was a wurlitzer. There is '0' info on 30s wurlys so you see my confusion? Anyway mine has been WELL played,has a lot of miles on it[literally & figuratively] and it shows, But I've never played another one quite like it.I have martin sealed tuners 3 singles per side, and a Gibson tune-o-matic bridge [anchored in the top as well] and I use fender bullet .10 gauge strings.It sounds amazing, and everyone says it has it's very own sound> I love the ol girl. Unfortunately, She got dropped recently, and is going to need hospitalization when I get some cash. Well, I'm glad to know finally what she is. Thanks! mark