4/26/2014

c.1930 Regal Spruce/Birch Tiple




This is a customer's instrument and it got all of the "usual stuff" I expect for a 30s tiple to need: neck reset, seam repairs, bridge work (in this case: remove broken old one and convert to tailpiece stringing), a fret level/dress, cleaning, and setup.

I've gotta admit -- for what came in as a very beat old Regal tiple -- this thing turned out great. It plays well (and in tune thanks to a compensated bridge) and has a big, chimey, mini 12-string voice. Some of these old Regals will sound a bit subdued but this one is bright and right out front which, to me, is pretty ideal when talking about these pocket cannons.




Originally this would've been a pretty colorful instrument with bright cherry-red stained birch back and sides, a lightly-colored natural spruce top finish, and bright red/black/yellow purfling. It's considerably "mellowed" with age.

Unlike earlier (read: 1920s) Regal tiples, this also has a shorter 16 3/4" scale vs. the original 17" length.


The original bone nut was still perfectly useful.


Pearl dots, ebonized maple fretboard, brass frets. It's extremely important to get instruments with dyed fretboards fret level jobs as the wood tends to shrink irregularly and frets will be out-of-sorts up and down the neck just enough to drive you crazy when trying to get lowest action.



The original bridge looked sort of like a small classical guitar rig and the strings would be "top loaded" behind a tie block. The tie block was damaged and the bridge itself had been reglued (poorly) to the top with a lot of slop and some "locator" dowels. Eventually that 2nd gluing came up and took bits of the top along with it underneath (sigh). I installed this thin dark-stained cherry bridge-shaped plate to cover the old bridge's muck-up job and reinforce the top.

The actual "bridge" here is the bone bit in the center of it that's simply floating to allow intonation adjustments. I've compensated it to get those very-varying wound and unwound strings in tune a lot better than your average tiple as you play up the neck. Most tiples have "straight" saddles which mean they simply do not play in tune above the 5th fret.

I used a "resonator mandolin" repro tailpiece to string this up because it's much easier to load off-the-shelf ball-end tiple strings with it than your average mandolin-style tailpiece (which would need loop ends) which would also be practical on this instrument. You simply have to bend the tips of your strings and then pass them from "behind" and "under" the tailpiece's bent front edge to get them in place. It's a lot easier than it sounds.



3/4 of the whole back had been unglued for much of this instrument's life and it no longer fit well with the sides. I glued it up as close as I could for all the deformation and said "good enough for government work." Amazingly, there are no hairline cracks to the back and sides.





I replaced one post/gear/screw set on this tuner plate with some vintage spares. It's pretty inevitable to have worn or damaged or missing parts with this many shafts in place...




Thankfully, the replacement "resonator mandolin" tailpiece covered up a couple of remarkably-strange screw holes that were present at the endblock area.

No comments: