5/16/2015

1930s Regal Concert Uke




Pre-WW2 concert ukes are just so hard to find and when I saw this uke come up I snapped it up right away. It's crack-free and now that it has a neck reset, bridge reglue, refret, brace reglues (to the top), new saddle, and setup behind it... it plays like a brand new (well, nice-grade) instrument.

It's got a very thin, extremely-lightweight build and (as you can hear in the soundclip) it belts it out both in tone and volume. It's got a 1 11/32" (almost 1 3/8") nut width and hair-under 14 3/4" scale length. The neck is mildly C/V shaped and very comfy. I always really like the pre-war Regal ukes I've worked on and I have the same good feelings towards this one. I don't know what magic voodoo they were putting in these guys, but it worked!


The "brownburst" does a good job highlighting the fun grain that birch can have.

A quick note on bracing: this has the standard number of "old uke" braces on the top -- one above and one below the soundhole -- but when I reglued both of them I set the one below the soundhole on a mild angle which opens up more of the bass side length and less of the treble. This is a take on Regal guitar construction from the time and I find it gives tops both more stability and also more dynamic tonal range rather than a simple flat response.


The Regal decal is intact and lookin' good.


The dyed-maple fretboard is very thin and needed a bit of rehab during the refret. Note that, while the frets are brand new, they're not "brand spankin' new full height." This is because I had to level and dress out a tiny amount of warp in the board via the frets. Still, they feel brand new and are much nicer than what came (very loose) on this to begin with -- tall, thin, "catchy" frets. I couldn't level the board out to begin with as it's only about 1/32" thick.

The action is perfect and quick at 1/16" at the 12th fret.


It's bound at the top edge and soundhole in celluloid.


Aside from the bridge reglue, this also got a new bone saddle install.




The original bakelite pegs work fine but aren't fancy.


The pearl dot hides a screw install. Regal (like Harmony) installed their necks with a single dowel towards the top of the heel. Even when perfectly glued-up, this joint often "rocks forward" under tension. It's just a silly way to put something together.

The only way I've solved this tendency for good is by either countersinking a screw or modifying the neck to a bolted-on version instead... both of which place connective tension at the lower part of the heel (where it needs it). I do it like this when the neck doesn't need to come off for realignment otherwise and I find they're stable ever after.





The classic Regal label is still intact.

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