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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
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    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
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    Stradolin Vega banjolin
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    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
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  13. #9
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Regal Reso

    Well I'm a better mechanic than luthier. Had to modify the spider and cover plate to move the bridge about 1/4" toward the tailpiece. I also cleaned out, deepened and angled the nut slots. Put on a new set of Newtone .008's. Now the intonation is sweet, plays real nice. Rings like a bell. I'll post a clip sometime in the next few days.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Regal Reso

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    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.
    I had that same problem with a silver National style 2 many years ago even before the National Company was resurrected. I contacted Harry Eibert near Syracuse NY and sent the tailpiece to him and he silver soldered it so that it was even stronger than it was originally. I guess his web presence is on Facebook. If you are not on FB, you can Google him and his telephone and address will come up pretty easily.
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  16. #11
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Regal Reso

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    ...I'll post a clip sometime in the next few days.....
    I guess I won't...I've been cut off from YouTube now, so I can't upload any videos. Whenever I try to log in to YouTube it takes me to the IT department at my daughter's college. No videos from me in the foreseeable future, as she won't be back until Thanksgiving...

  17. #12
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Regal Reso

    Ok, let's see if I have the technology to upload a video here:

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  19. #13
    Registered User Mando-Mauler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Regal Reso

    This thread becomes more interester as it progresses....i.e, similarities & differences vis a vis Dobro & Regal reso mandolins. There appears to me to be four (4) evident individual styles, all based on the one template. 1/ Regal style with f holes, 2/ Regal with tea strainer roundels (see Mandobart's video above). 3/ Dobro with f holes. 4/ Dobro with mesh roundels. Also, every image I have seen to date shows Regal necks Ivoried bound whereas Dobro necks are not. The Regal top plate has the more familiar repeating crescent holes & Dobros have the repeating stars & moon pattern. Further, the Dobro f holes have a tiny "kick" in the vertical cut and Regals do not. Another thing I've just noticed...Dobros often have an airbrushed "Tigerstripe" pattern,especially on the f hole model. I have not come across a Regal with tigerstripes. I might be wrong about some of these observations & no doubt there are more erudite members whose comments and/or corrections would add to the knowledge pool.

  20. #14
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Regal Reso

    There were a lot more than 4 models; Dobro catalogued at least half a dozen, and Regal catalogued two or three more. Which factory actually built which instruments is a more complicated question with a pretty hazy answer.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

  21. #15
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Regal Reso

    Quote Originally Posted by Mando-Mauler View Post
    ...every image I have seen to date shows Regal necks Ivoried bound whereas Dobro necks are not. The Regal top plate has the more familiar repeating crescent holes & Dobros have the repeating stars & moon pattern....Dobros often have an airbrushed "Tigerstripe" pattern,especially on the f hole model. I have not come across a Regal with tigerstripes. I might be wrong about some of these observations & no doubt there are more erudite members whose comments and/or corrections would add to the knowledge pool.
    My Dobro-labeled mandolin has an ivoroid-bound neck, round "screen holes," and the moon-and-stars cover plate. Its cover plate is stamped "Licensed by National Dobro Corp." dating it to after the merger of National and Dobro (1935), and its similarity to the Regal-labeled instruments probably also puts it post-1937, when National Dobro moved to Chicago and entered into contracts with Regal for co-production of certain models. It also has an airbrushed "figured" top.

    My feeling is that Regal built the wooden bodies, with either f-holes or round "screen holes," and Dobro supplied the resonator hardware. This opinion is based on the fact that National Dobro often contracted with other Chicago firms for wooden guitar bodies (Kay for the rare Havana single-resonator guitar [I own one]). Would be in keeping with these arrangements for National Dobro to contract with Regal for wooden mandolin bodies. I could be all wrong on this, though.
    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

  22. #16
    Registered User varmonter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Regal Reso

    Mandobart you found a really cool inst. I recently was in mkt
    For a parlor guitar and was looking at some
    Regals from the 30s. Regal has been around
    Since the late 1800s was sold to Lyon and Healy and then to Tonk.
    All Chicago based company's neat find and great sounding ( and nice playing by the way) instruments. I settled on an old 33 harmony supertone "Dark Knight"
    There is a local bar I play at . They have an old
    Rezo mandolin hanging on the wall. I tried to tune it once to no avail..
    I will have to look at it again.

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