7/22/2016

1930s Regal-made Mahogany Soprano Ukulele





I've worked on tons of old Regal ukes and this one is very similar to the ones they made for the early-30s Tonk Bros outfit. It's solid mahogany throughout but had a rosewood fretboard and maple bridge. Discrepancies like that maple bridge are pretty typical, mind you -- they just stained the stuff to match and often the necks on these types of ukes were poplar!

I worked on this for a customer -- fret level/dress, replacement back bracing, small seam repairs crack repairs to the top near the bridge, bridge recut/mod, and setup. We decided to string it DGBE with the lowest string a step above a GCEA uke's C string and the highest an E above uke's high A. This makes it one note off from the tuning of the Portuguese instrument the uke (and the cavaquinho) derived from and gives the instrument a chimey, vibrant chordal sound that's more Latin than island.


The uke itself is the usual, lightweight, soprano Regal build. Tone-wise, Regals are among my favorite old makes as they've just got a lot of "sauce," I suppose. They always have enough volume and depth of tone to keep you playing and I've never picked-up a prewar Regal that I haven't liked after work was finished.



Interestingly, due to this being a 30s build, the scale is lengthened from the old 13" or 13 1/8" standard to Martin-y 13 5/8" -- putting a bit more tension on the strings and making GCEA tuning a nice choice for something like this as well (as opposed to the old shorter-scale sopranos which often sound awfully-good tuned to ADF#B which jumps the tension up).



The bridge originally had a saddle, but I recut its front edge "30s Kamaka-style" to get the action down and adjust intonation properly.




The old bakelite-buttoned pegs are holding-up swell.



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