5/21/2016

1900s Regal-made Bowlback Mandolin



These are not my photos, but the owner (thanks!) sent them to me after he got this home. He'd arrived at the shop late in the day with an armful of repairs and this got a quick setup, restring, and bridge compensation before it left just before our Thursday evening jam. It came in great shape, with a good neck-angle and frets nice and level, so only the most minimal work was necessary to get it to play spot-on.

The instrument dates to somewhere in the late 1890s/early 1900s timeframe and it was certainly built by Regal, though it's unmarked. Many similar mandolins from the time bear Lyon & Healy branding -- and it's no great secret that Regal built a lot for L&H from the turn of the century onwards

Also, while the headstock decal is pretty typical of Regal and the purfling choices typical of American "trade" bowlback instruments in general, the pickguard is quite curious and strange. To my eyes it looks like Regal made an order of pickguards from an Italian supplier for a batch of these!




The bowl looks like a mix of rosewood and mahogany. I didn't look closely at the time -- only noting that the whole thing was in excellent shape.

Tonally it has a clear, crisp, and balanced sound. It's very much the staple "trade bowlback" tone -- meaning it lacks a full bass in general but has a decent amount of oomph and sustain.


 The brass-plate tuners (Waverly?) are nice.

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