1920s Regal "Canoe-Scene" Tiple

Update 2017: I originally posted about this tiple in 2015, but I'm pretty sure I've had this instrument since around 2011. I've since updated this post entirely with new pictures, current details, and a fresh soundclip.

I bought this Regal-made tiple years ago from Elderly Instruments as a fixer-upper and since that time I've used it often and on a lot of projects. I've had it in numerous different tunings and stringings for different recordings or bands and have distilled it, at this point, to its "best-ever" configuration.

It's still tuned GCEA low-to-high with octaves on the GC&E strings, but I've cut the total number of strings down to 8 from 10, set it up with a tailpiece string load and compensated banjo-style bridge, and installed a K&K acoustic pickup in it. Older work included a neck reset, fret level/dress (the frets are still good to go), a bone nut, side dots, StewMac antiqued mandolin-style tuners (these are excellent) and whatever else I can't remember. It's playing perfectly with 1/16" action at the 12th fret, a quick and easy feel, and with gauges 10/22w, 17/38w, 15/28w, 9/9 low to high.

This model of tiple is a little nicer than the usual spruce/birch or all-birch Regal-built instruments and features solid spruce over solid mahogany back/sides. The neck is poplar and the flat-radius fretboard is ebonized maple. These nicer-grade materials make an instrument that sings-out a bit more and has a fuller presence and, ya know, the extra bling of the green/black/yellow/red herringbone-style trim on the top doesn't hurt the eyes, either!

As far as the painting goes: I did that! Its canoe was to cover-up the exposed area from where the original bridge was glued-down but it's become a much-loved, much-talked-about thing whenever I've taken it to shows or gatherings. It's fun!

Like other tiples, the sizing is roughly like a tenor uke -- the body is 9" on the lower bout and 3 1/4" in depth and the scale length is 16 7/8" -- which is about 3/4" longer than the average tiple.

The headstock veneer is rosewood.

The nut is 1 1/2" and the neck has a medium-hefty hard-V shape to its rear. I like this for tiple/uke chord shapes but it's a bit harder to manage if you're restringing for a mando-centric tuning.

I repurposed a beautiful old mandolin tailpiece for this instrument. The three screws hold the "cover" down snug so that I can use the back slots to accept ball-end strings as you see here in the pic. There are also hooks for loop strings, too, but I find this much more convenient.

I've had three different tailpieces on here and I like this one the best!

The thin, satin finishes on old Regals scratch just as easily as old Martin finishes -- and look nice, too. There are no cracks on this instrument other than a minor 1" repair to the top over the bridge plate area where the canoe is painted.

These StewMac repro tuners aren't cheap and I used them on here because I wanted it to be good-to-go for live use. They're steady and have a higher ratio than vintage mando tuners (of which I have access to in abundance).


Aaron C Keim said…
I string my tiple gG cC eE aA with steel strings. Sort of a compromise between taro patch and tiple! I find that 10 strings doesn't sound better than 8!
Jake Wildwood said…
Yup, that's what I'd done with my tiple after 2 months use -- it sounds awesome with them all octaved.