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Thread: Old Regal Reso

  1. #1
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Old Regal Reso

    The second of two older instruments given to me by a friend of mine. This one is not a mystery - its a Regal Resonator. Like the Stahl banjolin, his father received it when a friend passed away back in the 50's - 60's. My friend told me he was pretty sure it hasn't been played since 1960. I'm wondering if anyone can tell me approximate build date? I couldn't find any serial number or markings besides the headstock decal "Regal, Made in Chicago. Here are the pics, sideways as usual thanks to my Android tablet:

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    Gotta be at least as old as these strings in the case
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    Questions on this one:
    1. The thin plated brass tailpiece is broken right where it bends over the top. Anyone know where a replacement can be found? Doesn't have to be original/vintage.

    2. The case is shot. Will a basic A-style case fit it?

    3. Other than the sweet old black diamonds pictured above, what strings do you all prefer on these resos?

    Not selling this one either, I'm going to play it. Thanks!

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  3. #2
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Regal Reso

    These were introduced around 1929-1930 and discontinued sometime before the decade was out, probably no later than 1938.

    1) Unfortunately, the chances of finding an original are slim to none, and the same goes for finding a more recent one that looks like the original. I would go for a standard mandolin tailpiece.

    2) Most standard cases won't fit; you need something a bit wider. Something like this might be large enough.

    3) I've only had post-War Dobro-type mandolins, but they always sounded great with standard phosphor bronze light strings (10s). The winding type makes less of a difference on resonators than on regular mandolins.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

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  5. #3
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Regal Reso

    I have the identical instrument, except that mine's labeled "Dobro" rather than "Regal," and has the moon-and-stars pattern coverplate rather than the round-hole pattern of yours. Regal originally built just the wooden bodies, Dobro or National Dobro the resonators, and they were sold under both names.

    My resonator coverplate has "Licensed by National Dobro Corp." engraved just below the bridge; I don't see that on yours. The inscription helps to date mine to 1935, when National and Dobro merged, or later. According to Brozman's summary of National Guitar Co. board meetings in his The History and Artistry of National Resonator Instruments, the arrangement between National Dobro and Regal began after National Dobro moved to Chicago, August 1937.

    Tailpiece on my Dobro is similar to a resonator guitar tailpiece, extending well over the resonator coverplate, and with four hooks rather than eight, so two strings of each course are hooked together. Closest thing to a replacement, rather than using a standard mandolin tailpiece as nmiller suggests above, would be this one designed for the metal-bodied Asian-made resonator mandolins; it's the same general design as the one I have. I'd recommend trying it; if it doesn't work, you're out $13 plus shipping, and you can go ahead and use a standard eight-hook tailpiece.

    Good luck; these are neat instruments. String lightly, and beware of neck angle problems. My Dobro had a neck block made of very soft wood, and needed a neck re-set to be playable. These mandolins weren't exactly masterpieces of the luthier's art; they were mass-produced by companies -- Regal for the mandolins, but also Harmony and Kay for wood-bodied Dobro and National resonator guitars -- who specialized in low-to-mid-range instruments.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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  7. #4

    Default Re: Old Regal Reso

    I had the Dobro version before I traded it to a friend who really wanted it. It was a good sounding mandolin that was a fun addition with other instruments.

    A friend recently bought a reso-mando tailpiece at Elderly, they also have dura-foam type cases for resonator mandolins. I used a Roadrunner mandolin gig bag for mine and it was a good fit. I also like the sound of flat wound strings on resonators, it seems to help the tone. The D'addario EFT74 would be a reasonable choice.

    Good luck with it!

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  9. #5
    Registered User Mando-Mauler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Regal Reso

    I have both the Dobro & Regal versions of this mando. They are virtually identical in construction - wooden bodies, aluminium (that's how it's spelt in Australia) spun cones & nickel plated cover plates, base material unknown. The Dobro sports the Moon & Stars pattern coverplate and the Regal has the more traditional round hole design.I have dated the Dobro model to 1935 based on a name & date (1935) pencilled inside the body. The Regal has no such distinguishing marks, not even a transfer decal on the peghead, but the the coverplate is stamped " Licensed by National Dobro Corp" immediately beneath the bridge/saddle top guard. I have provisionally dated this instrument to circa 1935 as the body is the dead ringer of the Dobro in design & construction, plus being identical to other Regals found on the interweb. The only difference is in the f holes, and you have to look bloody hard to spot this.
    Both instruments are graced with f holes, rather than the more traditional circular mesh roundels. All parts are interchangeable & it sure looks as if both mandos came off the same bench. Like GMeyer, I also have found flat wound lights complement reso mandos better than standard bound type strings. I am fairly certain that the original cloud tailpieces were made by Bell. These are more compact than the fan type found on other reso instruments of around this era.They pop up from time to time on the web.

  10. #6
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Regal Reso

    I just received this scalloped tailpiece from Stew-Mac. It fit just fine with a tiny bit of bending. Just waiting for my sets of .008 Newtones to string her up.

  11. #7
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Regal Reso

    Strung her up yesterday. Nice tone, nice low action. But...the intonation is almost a 1/4 tone sharp from the 2nd fret all the way up. On a regular archtop this would be easy to fix by moving the bridge a little toward the tailpiece. Not sure if I can do that on this instrument. The bridge is non-compensated, two piece sitting in a slot machined in the aluminum bridge holder (biscuit?) If you look in the pics above you can see there is a hole through the bridge cover through which one can turn a small screw. Will this let me move the bridge fore and aft? My search only pulled up this thread. Thanks!

  12. #8
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Regal Reso

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    ... Will this let me move the bridge fore and aft?
    No. The bridge is fixed in the center of the spider. You may be able to slide the spider assembly (it's not a "biscuit": that's what you find in National-type mandolins, where the resonator rises toward the bridge, and there's a wooden disk glued to its apex) slightly toward the tailpiece, since there's often a certain amount of "slop" in how these mandolins are built.

    I gather you haven't had the resonator cover plate off. I'd unstring the mandolin, take the cover plate off (small screws around its perimeter), and inspect the resonator and the spider bridge assembly. The screw that goes down through the center of the bridge, between the two saddles, should go down through the center of the resonator cone; it's a "tension screw" that adjusts the linkage between spider bridge and the cone. If the spider and resonator can be moved within the sound well, move 'em toward the tailpiece. I'm not overly optimistic that you'll find enough "play" in the assembly to correct a quarter-tone intonation problem, however.

    Check out this Stew-Mac page on resonator guitar setup; it's got a lot of useful info that applies to spider-bridge resonator mandolins as well as Dobro guitars. I doubt that you'll find much that'll help with improper bridge location causing intonation issues, sadly.

    High action and overly stretched strings can cause sharping, but you say your action's low. It may be possible to do something with the nut, to slightly lengthen the scale. Remember, however, that these mandolins were not especially carefully made, and are subject to some problems. Good luck; let us know what happens.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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