12/28/2014

1930s Regal-made Roundneck Resonator Guitar




This type of Regal-made resonator guitar can be seen under various brands (including Regal's own name) and the last one I remember working on was a Gretsch-branded one which shows more original hardware than this one (original tailpiece, tuners, endpin, and cone). Regal was making bodies for Dobro at the time and so it was fairly natural that they'd make Dobro-style guitars of their own with Dobro cones under the hood.

This reso came by way of a customer and it was in for a neck reset, fret level/dress, and full setup. The work's done and now it's singing proudly. I have no idea on the make of the cone but it sounds good to my ears.


The owner of this guitar told me he'd replaced all the hardware on it as everything had been removed... so the tail, cone, coverplate (presumably), and tuners are replacements. He did a good job putting it all in and even blocked-up the soundwell with some "legs" to couple the well itself to the back which makes for a slightly louder and more stable instrument.

However, the guitar had the usual problems associated with old Dobros including a loose neck at the wrong angle and sky-high action. Problem #2 was partly due, however, to the fact that the new cone's spider bridge sits higher than the originals. At any rate, a neck reset solved that and while I set it up I also fully-compensated the saddle so it plays in tune up the board.


The original nut is in evidence and these StewMac repro tuners the owner installed look the business. Note the faint imprint lines just below the nut on the board: these are the common leavings of the metal raised nut that these guitars were often sold with from the factory so you could play it as a Hawaiian-style (or, rather, "Dobro style") instrument.


Like most Regal products of the lower to mid grades, this has a poplar neck with a dyed-maple fretboard.


Because the replacement tailpiece sits higher than the original would have, I've strung the strings under rather than over it to get better back-angle at the saddle (and thus, more pressure on the cone). This also lets me stick a foam mute between the lip of the tailpiece and the string-ends to kill unwanted overtones and rattles from that part of the string length which are extremely common on resonators of all stripes (just like banjos).



The body is all plywood birch (thick stuff for the top and back) with painted-on faux-binding. It's approximately 00-size following the standard Regal-shaped 00-size 12-fret pattern.



While I was pulling the neck off it really didn't want to come out... even with a liberal dose of steam. When it finally did pop out I found a number of not-so-helpful shims in there.

Shims aren't a problem but if you're a handyman sort of fella getting ready to shim up your own neck joint... all I can say is please, please, please test-fit the joint first and make it work mechanically without glue before that stuff even gets in the picture.




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