10/09/2015

1935 Regal/Dobro Spider-Cone Resonator Guitar




The interesting bit about this guitar is that it has the general "Regal Dobro" look and build but has nicer hardware, extra dots on the fretboard, and a multi-layer maple neck build that reads as true "Dobro" to me. To boot it has a Dobro-style serial at the headstock which places it at just about 1935 (which is just about right for these specs). It has a good, warm, thick "Dobro" tone -- because of that original 30s Dobro spider-cone installed.

The guitar is more or less original in terms of hardware but has had the neck recut and refinished and the body topcoated in its past. It still looks authentic at a glance and definitely sounds it. This has the standard 25" scale length and after work plays spot-on with a straight neck.


This is a consignor's guitar and it began life as a squareneck model that was recut as a roundneck and refretted (among other things). The job was decent but the smaller, unreinforced neck means that (for standard pitch) I think lighter strings -- 52w-11 or a mixmash set -- would be best to keep the neck straight and true over time. For lowered open tunings 12s would be perfect. This had something heavier on it when it came in and the neck had gained a bit of relief that I dialed-out by leveling the frets off and dressing them.

Other work included a new bone nut, adjusting and compensating the saddles, cleaning, and general setup work. I try to tweak these to sound their best and there are certain little things I do to get there.


The headstock had one crack in its side that was reglued (well) and isn't noticeable unless you're looking for it. This one has a standard 1 3/4" nut width and a flat-profile ebonized-maple fretboard.


Pearl dots... medium frets... now a bit lower than they were to begin with but still with plenty of "meat."



This has the proper Dobro-style tail and it appears original as well. The nickel-plated hardware cleaned-up nicely, by the way, for the age.

Note also how I string this set of 50w-11 strings -- they're strung with the strings under the lip of the tailpiece. Not only does this cut down on a bit of potential rattle but it also adds extra back-angle on the saddle. The result is more efficient direction of tension -- so lighter strings but still the same carrying power you'd expect when using 12s.

The reason so many Dobros can tend to sound weak when they're not setup decently is because of poor back-angle on the saddle which necessitates heavier strings to generate the same sort of "oomph" from the cone.


Aside from relocating the cone for better intonation, I also compensated the original saddles.





Here you can see the recut of the neck very well. The conversion was nicely-done in terms of feel -- it's a great-feeling C-shaped neck -- maybe the only reso neck I've truly liked on a vintage unit aside from this Duolian... which it closely resembles.







Here you can see the "three layer" maple neck. Maple core with maple layer on top and maple ebonized fretboard over that.


Someone leveled that board off in the past, however, as evidenced by how much thinner the board is up here at the nut.




A nice hard period Lifton case ($$!) is included that fits it well. Unfortunately, the consignor says the case can sometimes get musty in very humid weather. Well -- it's an oldie! The next sunny day I plan to air it out on the porch. Usually many hours of UV does a pretty good job with that stuff...

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