5/27/2016

1950s Regal-made "Rodeo" Cowboy-Stencil Soprano Ukulele





I know, right? Way cool stencils!

This bit of early-50s cowboy funk was made right before Regal went belly-up and the named transferred to Harmony. It's a rather typical 40s/50s-style uke for Regal with a spruce top and birch back and sides (all solid). There's no bracing and instead there's a big, thin "bridge plate" under most of the lower bout to reinforce it.

These always hold-up pretty well and, when fixed, have a sweet-but-average sort of voice. They're nice for singing with but won't make someone playing jigs or whatnot jump-up and shout. The main issue they get over time is that their necks, which have a doweled joint, get loose (as this one's was). The problem there is that the heel is cut half-way up and so there's nowhere to sink a reinforcing bolt/screw in the lower portion of the heel (as on older Regal ukes) to keep the doweled-joint nice and tight after regluing.

Well, I fixed that (more on that down the post), leveled/dressed the frets, made a new ebony nut, fixed a few loose seams, and set it all up. It's playing on-the-dot with 1/16" action at the 12th fret.


This is a typical soprano with a 13 1/8" scale length and features the later-style, wider bodies present in most 50s ukes (as opposed to the more peanut-y types of the 20s/30s).

The spruce top has a few hairline cracks on the lower bout near the bridge but they're kept in-check by the bridge plate/brace that covers most of the central part of that area of the top. The bridge looks like it was reglued in the past but the job was good.


Starting at the top we have the awesome brand and the awesome hat!

Note that one tuner and another button are replacements from my parts-bins. The uke is otherwise original save the new ebony nut. The nut is 1 5/16" in width.


The frets in the (poplar?) neck got leveled/dressed and are in good order.


So cool!






The pearl dot is evidence of how I reinforced this joint so it wouldn't move and also got more back-angle on the neck to lower action to where it should be.

I set the (big) dowel in place in the joint and oriented correctly and then drilled a pilot hole to install a bolt/screw in place that keeps the orientation of the neck aligned with the top and also prevents the dowel from creeping-out over time. The pearl dot just covers the screw and its hole.

After predrilling all that, I glued-up the joint as well and reset the neck angle by shimming up the joint as you would on a banjo. I cleaned that up and now it's rock-solid and good-to-go. I'm thankful for figuring this out as a solution as I generally pass on 50s Regals like this due to the way the heel terminates halfway down the body. I couldn't resist the awesome stencils on this, though.





No comments: