2/24/2016

1930s Regal-made 12-fret 000 Guitar




This beat-up old Regal is a ladder-braced, 000-size 12-fretter and has a big, warm, woody old tone that easily accepts a flatpick or fingerpicking approach. It reminds me of a sweeter-sounding Harmony Sovereign jumbo mixed with some of the vibe one gets from a nicer-grade Oscar Schmidt-style product. The body shape is the same as found on Regal-made Oahu Hawaiians, LeDomino "Big Boys," and also that recent MayBell 000 I worked on.

Despite all the obvious funk, this guitar is a pretty rare item for when it was made: not a lot of other makers were building many 15" flattop guitars around this time and this was obviously intended to be a little upmarket of the average Regal considering the triple-bound fretboard and mahogany, medium-V (almost like mid-30s Gibson) neck shape.


I've been dragging my heels on getting this guitar finished, however. It belongs to a customer of mine who had a whole bunch of guitars in for repair and, finally, this one reached its place in line. It was a wreck when it arrived with half of the back seam burst, portions missing kerfing, and both the neckblock and endblock areas entirely separated. That, plus tension over time, distorted the side/back shape and they didn't match-up all too well. When figured-in with numerous "repairs" done to the seams on the back in the past and all of the back braces just a bit loose, it spelled-out a very frustrating tangle of issues to address...

And that's just the back! You can add to that some hairline cracks in the top needing cleats, a refinished top, a shoddy reglued/junked-up area around the bridge, and the usual fret level/dress work and neck stabilization needed... and it all looked like a horrid time-soak. It was -- in its way -- but blog readers will know that I try to make lemonade from lemons and that's the case with this fellow. One can't ask a customer to spend $500-700 on a $500-650 guitar with a refinished top!
 
I glued-up and fudged-together the yucky back and back-bracing (thankfully, it's all good to go, now -- but still, what a chore), installed a new bridge, fixed-up any crack issues, leveled/dressed the frets, made a new bone nut and saddle, lubed the tuners, and set it up nice and easy. The neck is straight but I did have to work the frets a bit as they were a bit wonky around the 9-14 area. The strings are my balanced-tension take on "lights" starting at 54w and going to 13. They coax out a nice, round tone.


The typically-Regal rounded-edges headstock shape bears a 1 7/8" nut width! Combined with a 24 7/8" scale length, this gives the guitar something close to a Gibson "Roy Smeck" 12-fret dreadnought feel to the neck.


Pearl dots, dyed-maple board, bigger vintage frets, and triple-ply celluloid binding adorn the neck.



The spruce top was probably dark to begin with but has been refinished a murky medium "suntanned" brown.


My new, oversized, rosewood bridge gives a bit more top stabilization and a good, compensated drop-in saddle to boot. The pins are new ebony ones.


The back and sides are solid birch with a one-piece back. It's 15 1/4" across the lower bout.




You can see, pretty clearly, that function seriously trumped form when getting the back good-to-go. Thankfully, it's the back. This was a pretty ugly mess when it arrived.




The "mini-button" tuners are found on all sorts of Regal products from around this time.


The endpin is a replacement. Note all the binding crumbling on the back...

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