7/09/2016

1930s Regal-made Spruce/Birch Parlor Guitar





At just-under 0-size (13" lower bout), with a 12-fret (big V) neck, and "transverse" ladder bracing, this guitar is what I usually imagine the prototypical 20s/30s Regal parlor to be. It even has the flashy, multicolored purfling that adorns my favorite Regals. Also, here's an almost-identical variant of this guitar under a different brand. Its tone is full and warm for the body size, with a distinct preference for fingerpicking that one often finds with transverse-braced guitars. These have a lot of mid-range sparkle and sustain which can be a bit too "planky" under a flatpick, sometimes.

This project was pretty rushed, as it's among the last two guitars of a big batch of repairs I've been needing to fix and ship to an excellent Australian customer of mine. We had a scared moment when the measurements for USPS Priority Int'l shifted (they've done it before and settled to disqualify bigger guitars) for a few days and nullified small guitar boxes (which meant they'd have to go via $300-400 Global Express Guaranteed or $500+ FedEx/UPS base rates). So, when I saw they'd gone back, I decided I'd better get this one done before they decided to change something else on us!


The guitar itself is pretty "stock" save for my new bridge, bone nut and saddle, and bridge and endpins. It's solid spruce over solid birch and (thankfully) crack-free.

Work included a neck reset, a seam reglue of a poor old previous seam repair to the lower-bout rear, a new compensated bridge install, refret (more on that in a bit), and general cleaning and setup. It plays on-the-dot at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret and is strung with 50w-11 strings (the heaviest I'd put on one of these).

Fortunately, my replacement (oversized, pyramid, rosewood) bridge helps stabilize the top a bit more than the original, smaller-footprint bridge would have.


Oh, right -- I also glued-up a headstock crack behind the treble-side tuners.

The nut is 1 13/16" in width, the board is flat and stained-maple, and the neck has a big old V-shape to it.


I had to refret the neck due to the fact that the old brass frets were quite loose and pulling-up at all the edges of the board. Rather than pull them out and put them back in with tacked super glue drops, I simply refretted this and then leveled/dressed the new frets. The result is a good improvement over the originals -- both in feel and tone. It always helps to have more mass in your frets.


I also added side dots.



The multicolored purfling is, of course, great-looking stuff! I'm so glad the color survived on this guitar -- usually these get quite faded with age and look brown/tan.



Here's that new, rosewood bridge.


As you can see, there's plenty of height on this saddle. It's a drop-in, too, which makes it easy to adjust height as the guitar changes over seasonal cycles.



The reddish stain on the birch really shows off some nice curly figure on the back.







The original tuners are still working alright and show the curious Regal choice of tiny black buttons (they're mandolin-sized buttons).



The endpin is a new, ebony one.

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