7/17/2015

1910s Regal-made Lyon & Healy Parlor Guitar




In summer, walk-in repairs are always interesting. I played tonight at a joint gig with my buddy Aaron's band going first and his guitar player came in early with this nice old L&H parlor for a quick setup -- which it got, plus new ebony pins, and a set of new strings. I'm certain that this was made by Regal for Lyon & Healy as it specs out (and is built) just like a contemporaneous Regal (transverse ladder bracing, even) but has fancier "Washburn"-style appointments in terms of bound headstock and fretboard. I'm guessing it might've been sold under their Lakeside or American Conservatory brands.

This guitar had previous work including, presumably, a neck reset -- but also an installation of a replacement bridge (in the "flattened pyramid" Chicago style), newer tuners (kinda ick but functional), and a coat of French polish to clean up the (original) finish. It did, however, need a good setup desperately as it played only marginally acceptable. I was amazed that the original frets were in good order -- all level and with nearly no wear!



It's a crack-free guitar with a solid spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides. It's roughly 0-shaped.


Original ebony nut and 1 3/4" width...


...and pretty pearl position dots in a dyed-pearwood/maple fretboard with celluloid binding. This would've been fairly fancy for the time.


Binding and multiple purflings really dress it up.


In addition to modding the saddle (height and intonated B string slot), I also added light string-ramps behind the saddle and swapped the plastic pins for ebony. It's a much closer-to-original feel this way. The bridge itself is a (good) repro with a proper compensated saddle slot. Because this would've originally been a gut-stringer the original saddle slot would've been straight.

Interestingly, unlike a higher-end Washburn, this guitar has Regal's own shorter 24" standard scale which lets this get away with 50w on the bottom for strings.


Snazzy, huh?



The super-straight mahogany used on the back is just plain pretty with that Martin-like reddish finish.



This is such a typical Regal-style neck carve that it could be used as an example for them. The neck itself is a big old V shape, too. It's also made from medium-flamed maple... which I forgot to photograph (sigh). Pretty stuff!




The bound front and back give a nice contrast to the mahogany.


Original ebony endpin...

3 comments:

Scot Danforth said...

Hi, Jake,

How common is a tenth-fret marker on L&H guitars? I read somewhere that that feature was a Harmony indicator.

Jake Wildwood said...

10th fret indicators are very common on L&H -- but so are 9th fret ones, too! It's hogwash to say 10th or 9th fret indicators make something one brand or another. By the mid 30s, 9th fret became fairly standard, but manufacturers of all stripes were flip-flopping from 10th (fairly standard on late 1800s to 1920s guitars) to the more modern 9th all the time.

Here are two links to 10th-dot Washburns:

http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2014/01/c1910-washburn-style-115-rosewood.html

http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2014/02/c1929-washburn-5236-00-size-concert.html

And while Regal was often building with 9th in the 30s, here's a Regal LeDomino with one at the 10th like on earlier models:

http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2013/02/c1935-regal-ledomino-0-size-parlor.html

So, best bet is: never listen to web gossip -- it's usually wrong. Someone saying that's a Harmony indicator is like the folks that say a star on a banjo headstock means it's a Vega: totally bogus!!

Scot Danforth said...

Makes sense. Thanks for the clarification!