4/28/2016

1930s Regal-made May Bell 000 14-Fret Guitar


I worked on the x-braced cousin of this guitar back in February, though this one has a Martin-inspired "shaded-top" sunburst effect to the finish and ladder-bracing under the top, instead. The ladder-bracing gives this a strident, up-front, punchy tone -- though the mahogany top tames the treble to a sweeter, woodier voice you'd expect more from an x-braced instrument. It's a good mix and something that I enjoy on a lot of mahogany-topped, ladder-braced Regal Hawaiian-style guitars. Like most Regals of this size (000 = 15" lower bout) and period, it has volume to spare.

This guitar was in for "quick service" today (a scheduled visit with a long-time customer) and received a fretboard extension angle change, saddle-slot fill and recut (for compensation), new saddle, new bridge pins, a fret level/dress, and general setup. The owner uses it for slide in an open tuning so the new drop-in saddle slot lets him adjust it (with no shims) down to "fingerpicking" standard action and (with shims added) standard 3/32" overall "slide" height.




The board is almost entirely flat in profile and made of dyed maple. The neck itself is poplar, I think, and is dead-straight with a medium-big C-shape. This has a 25" scale length and is strung with 12s.


There was old work done to the guitar including a bridge reglue, neck reset, and other minor stuff -- but the last folks to work on this blew the fretboard extension angle and as a result it had the usual "ski jump" even after surgery. I popped it off, sanded its bottom, and reglued it at a better angle -- though the fussy old repairs to the already-cracked maple board in this region meant for a fussy reglue/fix-up process.



While not perfect, the relocated saddle slot is in the correct spot, now, and the grungy yellow parts-bin saddle actually looks about right in person. The pins are new ebony ones.







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