6/11/2016

1920s Regal-made Washburn Style E Flatback Mandolin





This is a customer's old Washburn and, aside from the name in the soundhole, it's identical to mandolins that Regal made under their own name, too. It's a good-quality instrument and has a canted spruce top over Brazilian rosewood back and sides, mahogany neck, and ebony fretboard. These have a tone similar to Larson-style mandos of this style with a sweet, velvety voice and a good amount of power. They bridge the gap between a "tubby" flatback and "crisp" bowlback -- and look good doing it.

There was a bunch of "old work" on this instrument (hastily-reglued back braces, funky crack repairs, funky seam repairs), but my work included resetting the neck and fretboard extension, a fret level/dress, cleaning, tuner lube, and a recut of the original bridge to fit a new bone saddle on the top of it (the original bridge's top was damaged beyond use).


This was clearly played a lot.


The tuners are recessed like most higher-end mandolins from the time. The nut is bone and the headstock has a rosewood veneer.



The binding is all 3-ply and the nice celluloid pickguard is recessed and flush with the rest of the top.


A new compensated bone "topper" on the original bridge's foot is helpful for playing in tune up the neck. This mando has a 12 7/8" scale and you can see I had to move it forward about 1/8" to intonate correctly.


Because there's no tailpiece cover, I shoved a bit of leather under the string-ends to mute them.



The back and sides are pretty Brazilian rosewood.


The back has a bit of brace-induced arching.




Post-reset, this has a nice, tall, 5/8" bridge. I've strung this with 32w-9 "bowlback" gauge strings, however, as these were never meant to be strung with modern-gauge 34w-10s or similar. They're lightly-built instruments.




This originally had a hinged tailpiece with a little knob for tightening the cover. It's long-gone, however.



Because these joints are doweled and thus unstable without reinforcement, I countersunk a screw behind that darker circle at the heel's rear. It's unfortunate but necessary.

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