4/07/2014

c.1970 Harmony-made Regal R235 Jumbo Guitar




These 60s Regal jumbos (this probably dates between 68 and 70 but it has no date stamp so I can't verify) were the same guitar as Harmony's own H1260 model but with slight cosmetic differences: the headstock is a little bit changed and if the pickguard was still in existence in this model it would be slightly changed, too.

At any rate, I've been meaning to get this guitar finished for a long while, now. It came to me almost ready to go but it did need a fret level/dress, new set of tuners, new nut, a bit of saddle adjustment, and bridge pins -- all of which it got. It plays fast, sports a 25 1/2" Fender-ish scale, has a 16 1/8" lower bout, and booms out with the solid authority you only get on a bigger-bodied flattop like this.



The top is solid spruce with ladder bracing, the back and sides are mahogany (solid sides, possibly solid back? -- hard to tell), the neck is also mahogany, and the bridge and board are both Brazilian rosewood with the characteristic streaking you start to see on Harmony products from the 50s on.


The king-size headstock proudly bears the engraved "Regal" script, though the authentic Regal factory itself had been closed for more than a decade when this was built. Note the new bone nut and also the bit of pickguard material I used to make a new truss cover. The rod works perfectly well, by the way, and allows for a slimmer (for Harmony -- more like a late 50s Gibson shape) neck.


Radiused, bound, rosewood board. The frets only needed minor leveling and dressing to get back to playing shape.


Isn't that a nice looking soundboard? Good tight grain.

The 30s-looking Gibsonesque pickguard is long since missing and you can just make out its shape on the top if you're looking for it. From a few feet away I expect most folks wouldn't know it had one. The big pieces of plastic Harmony used were fairly tone-damping anyway, so I think it's an improvement.


I'm not sure if the bridge is original. If it is, then its "tie block" rear was cut down and it looks like it may have had an adjustable saddle slot that was boxed in to allow the use of a traditional drop-in saddle. In any case, whoever glued this bridge did a good job and put everything in the right place for intonation. All I needed to do here was adjust the saddle's height slightly, intonate the B string, and add string ramps and a set of pins.

Note the chip-out that's had patching at the treble side of the bridge: that's the only top "crack" that I saw. That must've happened when the bridge originally pulled up.


The finish looks pretty decent: there's the usual use-scuffs, tiny nicks and dings throughout, and stuff like that, but not the long scratching and flaking I might expect to see more. The top shows the most wear, though, and seems to have been buffed out a bit "satin" in spots after its older repairs.



I popped on a set of Kluson-style repro tuners which was an improvement.


The neck set is good to go and must've been addressed in the past.





I'm amazed that the endpin isn't missing.

9 comments:

bruce syers said...

Hi. I bought the Guild F5CE from you-plays great! I have a '58 Airline/Harmony 1260 at a local luthiers getting set up. Can't wait to play it. I was wondering if you think an ebony fretboard & bridge would make much of a difference in the sound? Thanks for your great work and excellent blog!

Jake Wildwood said...

On the Harmony 1260? Or the Guild? And -- thanks!

Jake Wildwood said...

But for that matter: ebony bridge = slightly chimier and focus on the high end while rosewood = slightly mellower and warmer. The fretboard, from my experience, changes tone VERY VERY VERY minimally, especially if the frets are fairly tall.

Jake Wildwood said...

For what it's worth, I prefer rosewood 9/10 times.

bruce syers said...

I meant the Airline/Harmony. I prefer a warmer tone so thx for the info.

Anonymous said...

Hello,
The bridge is not original, but the rosewood is a good match. The original bridges on these "Regal" branded Harmonies are almost always either cracked or replaced already.
I believe the original bridge was not rosewood but an ebonized hardwood (maple?!), for whatever reason - since all other "OEM" Harmony 1260s had a rosewood bridge.
This guitar must have been made between 1966 and 1969. 1970 would spot 7-ply top binding, what is the stamped number in front of the neck-block?
greetings, always nice to watch your wonderful photos of vintage instruments :)

Jake Wildwood said...

Ah, I just specified 1970 as the near-target date (+/- 5 years as it didn't have the date stamp per the usual Harmony style inside. I figured the bridge wasn't original but it is close to the rosewood Harmony used (with that grainy sort of marbled effect) at that time.

Anonymous said...

Hello, me again.

Can you tell the "serial" number?
Well if I had to guess, 87XX 235 ?! That would mean 1969..

knowing the factory stamp number, I may be able to determine the year it was made.
If it is unreadable, also check with
a mirror, the underside of the spruce top *usually should* ( knowing the Harmony factory habits ;) ) have the same stamped numbers as on the mahogany back.

This is how the original trussrod cover looked:
http://harmony.demont.net/images/27/H1260_Sovereign_Regal_04.jpg

original bridge:
http://harmony.demont.net/images/27/Regal_R235_1966_10.jpg

keep up the good work, best wishes

Ed Goist said...

I am the lucky new owner of this excellent R235 and I love it! Fantastic tone, and wonderful playability thanks to Jake's excellent set-up! (Thank you Jake). I am also amazed by the lightness of the build. Very nice.

Anonymous, not sure if it will tell you anything, but I found the factory stamp number. It is 2150 H235.