4/20/2016

1930s Regal-made Slingerland "College Pal" Parlor Guitar





I've worked on this same model a couple times and the same general sunburst "MayBell" guitar, but with a slotted-headstock, maybe half-a-dozen times. It was definitely a staple, in various trims, of the Slingerland catalog in the '30s. It was made by Regal in Chicago and is a pretty typical example of their simplest all-birch, ladder-braced, "parlor" (slightly smaller than 0-size) 12-fret guitar design that they'd been making since the early '20s in this form.

The difference with the Slingerland-badged MayBell and "College Pal" versions from the regular Regal-branded models, however, is that most had this cool rosy-tobacco sunburst finish, some (like this one) had solid headstocks, and most-importantly, the Slingerland-sold models have a more comfortable (if still on the medium-big size) C-shaped neck profile. Tonally these make excellent fingerpickers due to their lightweight build, short 24" scale, and bracing style.


While the guitar is pretty clean (no cracks), it does have a replaced (rosewood) bridge and bone saddle, though the pins are original and everything else, as well. The body is all-solid birch while the neck is poplar and the fretboard is dark-stained maple.

When this came in I thought the work would be -- at a glance -- straightforward: a neck reset followed by a new bridge, a fret level/dress, and general setup. It got that but I also had to reglue the neck block which was loose (!) and one of the top/side seams at the shoulder is slightly-slipped about 1/32" -- though it's glued-pat and stable.


The "College Pal" decal is almost gone. Note the original wood nut -- still going strong enough to re-use. The width is 1 3/4" -- plenty of room for a fingerpicker.

The strings are a mix of gauges that flit between "11s" and "10s" in feel and tension. Regals like this one need to be kept lightly-strung (11s maximum) due to their very-light bracing.


The board is dyed maple with celluloid dots. The frets are the original brass ones -- low-ish and small -- though they're near full-factory-height even after the level/dress.

Action is 3/32" bass and hair-over 1/16" treble. The entire board starts just slightly dipping down like a backbow towards the body after the 10th fret, which raises measured action at the 12th just a hair higher than its "perfect virtual action" would be (given  that the 12th fret drops-off a little less than 1/64" of where it would otherwise be -- does that make sense to the engineer-sorts in the audience? -- oh my -- I only mention for completeness' sake). There's also a tiny amount of chip-out on the board at the 12th fret.


The rosette and black "binding" is all sprayed-on, though there's real cream celluloid binding at the soundhole.


The replacement bridge is a NOS German rosewood one, probably from the old Framus factory. The saddle is compensated bone...


...and tall! Note the original bridge pins.





The tuners are lubed and work well.







Here's a slipped seams -- it's barely-so, and good to go.





1 comment:

George Best said...

I have this College Pal. Jake's description is quite accurate, so is his sound sample. Thank you Jake for having such a good site.

I am really glad to have this guitar. The notes in chords with small intervals in them bounce around inside the body in such a pleasing way I just want to let them ring for a while and absorb it's sweet tone. It's lively, harp arpeggios have an intimate, reverby quality.

If you are researching guitars in the Museum like I was, and are intrigued by the sound of a College Pal, get one if you can find one.