1890s Regal-made Lyon & Healy "Lakeside" Parlor Guitar

Update 2017: This blog post was originally from 2009 but I've updated it with new pictures, a soundclip, and current details.

I've had this guitar since 2009 and have enjoyed it to the fullest. It's branded "Lakeside" -- which was a Lyon & Healy name -- and I'm now fairly certain that it was made by Regal in the 1890s. I'd originally thought it was earlier due to its design style, but Regal only became a business in 1895 and their fingerprints (as far as the pre-Chicago, Indianapolis-located Regal is concerned) are all over it.

The guitar has transverse (main brace is set at an angle) ladder bracing, an extremely lightweight build, and quartersawn oak sides with a plain oak back. The top is spruce, the neck is Spanish cedar, the fretboard is "ebonized" maple (as far as I can tell), and the original bridge was maple, too. Because of its feather-light build and bracing style, the instrument is just as lively and oomph-y as a Kamaka uke -- it easily sounds three or four inches wider than what its size would suggest.

It would've been made for gut (nylon, today) strings, but I have it strung with a "hybrid" set of nylon basses and rope-core-steel/nylon-flatwound trebles. You can hear in the soundclip how full it sounds and also its interesting tonal character -- straddling between a classical, typical period parlor, and flamenco guitar in tone and projection.

I'd done some work on this guitar in the past but recently went through it head-to-toe and did what I'd wanted to do on it for a long time. I gave it a neck reset, a new rosewood bridge with ebony saddle and pins, and a fresh fret level/dress and setup. There are three older hairline crack repairs (not mine) to the back and one to an under-fretboard crack -- all of which are good to go -- but aside from those, a strap button at the heel, and the replacement bridge, the guitar is otherwise unmaligned and original.

In Martin terms this is close to a "size 1" in specs with an 11 5/8" lower bout width and 3 3/4" depth at the endpin. It has a period-typical scale length of 24 1/4" and a typical 1 3/4" nut width. Departing from the standard mold is a more-accessible mild-medium soft C/V hybrid neck shape and a very light 16" radius to the fretboard.

I think what I like best about this guitar is its "arts-and-crafts" period feel -- it's very spare, simple, and workmanly but expertly executed. I tried to keep with that "flow" when I made the new bridge for it.

The ebony nut is original.

The fretboard shows a century-plus of light use-wear. It's a maple board that was "ebonized" black when new. The frets are original and still have plenty of life to go.

Action is on-the-dot for gut/nylon/classical strings at 3/32" across all the strings at the 12th fret. Adjustments can be made easy-peasy to suit personal taste, however, as the saddle is a drop-in unit and can be shimmed up/down.

Past the 12th fret the fretboard dips ever-so-slightly down from the plane of the board on the neck.

The rosette is a pretty, understated thing. It's a mix of green, yellow, red, and black furniture-style stuff.

The oak on the back is pretty stuff.

The back of the Spanish cedar neck shows some cigarette burns and use-wear that's darkened the finish. Note the bigger pearl "side dots."

The tuners are nice-quality, have always been easy to use, and have good celluloid buttons.

The sides feature quartersawn oak which gives it that "tiger" figure.

The endstrip is ebony and the original strap button is, too.


Anonymous said…
Jake I sure did injoy the song and guitar . very soothing music. Richard Murrison
Anonymous said…
jake i have a lake side tenor banjo . do you know anything about them , thanks richard murrison. sgmurrison@valornet.com
Anonymous said…
Hi Jake, I possibly have an old Vega parlor and was wondering if you might know anything about them. Would love some help. Thanks! miahkirby@gmail.com
Anonymous said…
I HAVE THIS EXACT SAME GUITAR!!!! i am so pleased to know i am not the only one. I actually have 2 columbia parlor guitars. thanks for sharing.
Anonymous said…
I have a Lakeside Guitar and have just kept it for years. I have people that want to buy it, and I just don't know what I would take for it....Any idea what the value might be for future help?
E. Harris said…
Love the song, love the guitar. The quartersawn oak simplicity reminds me of Stickley and mission furniture.
E Harris: Thanks!! And yes, the guitar has that cozy old-timey feel, just like an old mission chair. Love it to death.
Unknown said…
I really enjoyed the song and enjoyed hearing your guitar. I key in this comment just after looking at my latest aquisition. A relative found a twin to your guitar in Orlando Fl. at a garage sale for $1.00. I came down here from Rockford Il. on vacation to pick it up. The bridge needs to be re-glued but other than that is in verrry good shape. I will have it professionally restored. I'm very excited.
old doc kerr said…
how do you clean the brass but noy get it too shiny?
Anonymous said…
Flitz Polish is the best brass cleaner. You get it at the marine boating stores. I used it on a 1925 Bosendorfer piano and it came out unbelievable. Old tip from a master piano restorer.
This is a nice acoustic guitar. I found a good information on acoustic electric parlor guitars. Thanks