1920s Regal-made Two-Point Flatback Mandolin

Regal's 1920s and 1930s two-point models (here's a fancy version with the Washburn brand) seem to have been a downmarket approach to offering an alternative to the two-point body style of Vega cylinder-back instruments. This one dates from the late 1920s or early 1930s and is simple in materials (spruce over birch back and sides) but has decent binding and purflings.

I worked on this for its owner and, as I recall, he's the one responsible for both rebracing the top to a much heavier pattern and an attempt at shoring-up a bad neck joint with a dowel install at the bottom of the heel. The latter, unfortunately, is a good idea that rarely works. My work included resetting the neck, replacement binding at the treble side of the fretboard, a fret level/dress, new nut, and new compensated rosewood bridge. I also lubed the tuners while I was at it.

After work it plays on-the-dot and uses 34w-10 regular mandolin "lights" -- which provide it with a good, midsy, direct sound that has a bunch of sustain. If the bracing had been left at original specs I would've used lighter strings, but the bulky bracing affords the use of standard sets and also means this mandolin "feels" as well as "sounds" more modern, too.

Fortunately, the only cracks on the instrument are on the back and are tight hairlines.

This same headstock shape was also used by Harmony at the same time, but the Regals usually have their recessed tuners screwed-into the headstock when they were made (rather than left loose in the housing) and they also usually have the small, micro-size buttons on them. The nut is new and bone.

As usual, the neck is stained maple or pearwood as opposed to "real" rosewood or ebony.

The scale length is a normal-for-the-time 13" and so feels slinkier than your average modern instrument.

Furniture-trade purfling is used on a lot of Regals from the time as a way to dress them up.

My rosewood bridge is roughly the size of the one that came off of it but has the normal "swooped" wings and is compensated.

The Bell Brand tailpiece allows for loop or ball-end strings.

It looks like the back was reglued a bit "off" during old work and was then sanded flush with the sides.

As a side-note -- when I reset necks on these I always install a "bolt" screw to keep them secure. These Regals have doweled neck joints that always come loose and move-about otherwise.


Sam Hobish said...

The dowel was actually just a toothpick I used to close a hole left by strap mounting hardware- nothing to do with securing the neck. Thanks for the great work.

Jake Wildwood said...

NP, thanks for letting me know -- with these old things I'm not sure what all is going on. :)