3/06/2014

c.1930 Regal Spruce/Birch Tenor Guitar




Yup, these things are getting popular. I'm having a hard time finding them and every time I list one as coming up I get a few emails pretty quick. I can't blame folks for liking them, too... they're loud, gutsy, have a nice look, and a good feel. They're also featherweight, too. 

Work included a neck reset (and conversion to tenon/bolt-on style heel), fret level/dress, some brace reglues, a couple seam reglues, cleaning, a new (vintage) bridge and brand-new tuners, and a good setup. It's got a good straight neck and plays perfectly -- 1/16" at the 12th fret action height. I've got it tuned CGDA and it has a lot of projection and oomph at this pitch. GDAE may well work fine on this guy but the low note would probably sound a bit thin. I tend to favor this size of tenor guitar for standard CGDA, "Chicago" DGBE, or low-G uke GCEA pitch tunings.




What's amazing is that despite good evidence of a lot of playwear, there's really no "real" cracks that go through. There's some "ribbing" to the top from wear here and there but nothing else, really.


The inlaid Regal logo is pretty hip. I like the original ebony rather than stained-maple nut, too.

...and did you see it? Yup, I upgraded the tuners from the original friction pegs to a set of those fancy new Gotoh "uke planetary tuners" for 4:1 geared banjo feel. This makes the instrument infinitely more practical from a player's point of view as you won't have to fuss with the 1:1 banjo friction pegs which really work best for nylon/gut strings. They also look super-cool and weigh nothing. The $60 price tag of these tuners will be included in the pricing of the instrument, though -- please keep that in mind.


Pearl dots in a stained-maple board. I just wanted to mention again the modification to the heel: this had a crummy old neck reset and the dovetailed sides of the joint were chewed up/broken in a few places on delivery to me (not from the delivery, but from the neck having popped loose long ago for the 2nd time).

I recut the dovetail joint into a tenon, installed 2 hanger bolts in the end of the heel and then corresponding holes in the neck block. The neck is held in place very tightly with 2 big long hex washer/couplers internally. It's also glued as well. This is vaguely similar to modern Martin neck construction (tenon joints) and more similar to vintage Goya/Levin joints. It's rock solid and stable and I've been using it when I find beaten-up dovetailed joints these days.


The top and back are bound in black celluloid. The soundhole is, too, and originally that rosette would've been very brightly colored (red/yellow/black/green) but it's faded to its muted browns, of course.


I used a Grover tenor banjo bridge (1930s) from my parts bin to replace a missing original. I like to use tenor banjo bridges on these guys as I find they really get a good punchy/loud sound to these instruments and if you're coming from tenor banjo or want to play melody or lead lines that cut and zing will do you a favor.


The solid birch back and sides have the usual medium-brown finish Regal tended to apply. This birch has some nice 3D-effect grain here and there.



Yeah, those tuners really are just very cool. 4:1 tuning vs. 1:1 friction pegs with steel strings... huge advantage.


It looks like the last 1/4" of the heel was reglued at one point, by the way. Also note the tiny little amount of "seam creep" on the bass side bottom of the upper bout. It's glued and stable but I figured I should mention it.






I have a piece of scrap leather shoved under the "cover" part of this "Bell-Brand" tailpiece to mute the extra string length. It's not necessary to do so but it does cut down on distracting overtones which can clutter your sound.

2 comments:

Andreas said...

beautiful sound!

Anonymous said...

Sold already?