c.1930 Regal Parlor Guitar - Part 1

Here's what will be a very becoming guitar when it's all done-up and fixed. I figured I'd show you a glimpse of the "usual work" that goes into fixing up a typical old parlor. This is a Regal-built floral stencil in "concert" size for the time, which was probably about c.1930 or so, with really fun multicolored inlay and nice contrastingly-white binding. The top is spruce, (and very thankfully, crack-free) the back, sides, and neck are all birch. It's ladder-braced in a | / O | pattern (thick bridge plate, transverse, soundhole, upper bout brace), but has had some rough times. It has the evidence (typical) of being stored at tension in probably a damp area, as the top has sunk a little and the bridge has actually warped forwards (most likely due to the fact that it's made of dyed birch rather than ebony or rosewood).

I start by removing the bridge, which came very easily as the little glue that was left was weakened. The top has sunk a little under the soundhole, and though it will spring back a little bit after a few days of rest, it will likely remain sunken just a hair. I will be installing a couple of very lightweight balsa braces between the transverse and the thick bridge plate/brace to help counter this from happening in the future.

Here are a few nasty back-cracks that will be filled and more or less colored-in to match.

And here's a usual open seam. Now, these things alone aren't so big a deal, but they underly the problems inside: almost every brace is loose and all will need regluing.

Here's the dried-out and unhappy fretboard. These frets will be polished up, I will restore some color to the fingerboard, and then I'll oil it.

This looks like blasphemy, but each of those pieces of wood have padding under them so as not to mar the finish. Most of the weight is resting on the work-table -- not on the guitar.

Fortunately for me, the neck is straight with a tight neck-joint, but due to other "settling in" on the guitar, the bridge as it was, warped and all, would have had too high a saddle position anyhow. Here I'm in the middle of sanding it down flat and thinner for its re-glue later. The action in the end will be pretty close to factory-stock (a little under 1/8" at the 12th) and I'll get to save the original bridge in the process. I'll install a new fret-saddle as per the original configuration.

And here's some middle-of-the-road sanding on the top. In a few days, I'll probably have this guitar pretty much ready to go and most definitely a zillion-times purtier. A lot of the scuffs will be removed, scratches minimized, and after a thorough cleaning the finish should shine a lot more, too. Till then!


Jami said…
Thanks for posting your progress. My aunt just gave me a very similar Regal guitar that needs fixing up and I am wondering how much it would a)cost to have someone fix it and b)be worth after it's fixed. Not that I'd want to sell it, but am just curious.