What a pearl-encrusted find! A customer/trading partner brought this in this morning and I bought it on the spot. Anyone else seen anything like it? It's a Regal tenor guitar body (same size/layout as their 30s ones) made into a baritone uke (with proper bari-style classical bridge) for the booming bari market of the early 50s (yes, it was). This would've been made in the last stages of the original Regal company as they were sold off in 1953. There's a stamp at the heel that suggests 1952 manufacture.
The only real work needed was shaving-down the saddle, doing a light fret level/dress, replacement of the crumbling tuner buttons, and a general cleaning and setup. All done. It plays beautifully with 1/16" action at the 12th fret. The last owner had Aquila Nylguts on it and I left them on.
This instrument is very clean aside from some use and playwear. It's also all-original except for the tuner buttons. There are no cracks on the top but the back has two tiny hairlines right at the bass edge of the back (over the kerfing) so they're good to go.
The top is solid spruce, ladder braced, over solid mahogany back and sides. I think the neck is poplar or maple and the board and bridge are both Brazilian rosewood as far as I can tell. Nut and saddle are original bone.
Who knows why they called it the "Tara Guitar" -- but we don't have to care because the pearl inlay in the rosewood veneer is just fantastic.
The "Guild-style" big-block pearl inlay with abalone corners is just too excellent on a baritone uke.
The soundhole rosette has the same yellow/green/red/black purfling that Regal used in the 20s and 30s for their uke-family instruments (and many tenor guitars).
I knot my string-ends on classical bridges to get as much down-pressure on the saddle as I can. It cleans up the tone and drives the top much better.
The hog for the back and sides is very straight, good-looking stuff.
The tuners work well and are original old Klusons that look like 40s models to me. I've popped new black buttons on them as the original cream ones were just on the edge of falling apart.
Note the pearl dot at the heel!
This neck joint was sturdy and good to go as-is, but I don't trust Regal joints unless they're made stable for the long haul. To that effect I pre-drilled a hole and did an internal screw/bolt/washer reinforcement bit through the soundhole, then capped the tiny pre-drill hole on the heel with a pearl dot. I have a friend with a double bass that got this treatment 20 years ago and it's still holding perfectly. So if it's good enough for that kind of tension...
Here's the big washer and screw that were installed through the soundhole. Like I said before -- this is just a precaution for down the road.