1930s Regal-made MayBell X-braced Mahogany 000 Guitar





Update 2019: The owner of this guitar traded-up to a Gibson, so this'n is for sale again. I've updated the blog post where necessary and included a brand-new video clip as well as new photos.

Rare, rare, rare! X-braced Regals are hard to find and even more surprising when they're spotted on a definitively mid-grade instrument rather than their higher-end models. This all-mahogany guitar is 000 (15" lower bout) in size with a 14-fret neck but obviously apes the idea of a Martin 00-17 in its no-frills styling and x-braced top. Its "x" is different, however, in that there are only 4 braces, truly, on the top -- the ladder one above the soundhole, the two main spars of the "x," and one tonebar that's confined between the legs of the "x" on the lower bout. It's a simple pattern but it's rugged and sure does give a good, wide-open tone with a very fundamental sound.

One might expect this to sound fairly "chocolate Martin" with its super-lightweight build and specs, but it actually sounds more Gibson to my ears -- sort of like a breathier, woodier '50s LG-2 or LG-3 sound (extra mids and definition, therefore) with a bit more apparent volume and airy warmth. Its neck, however, feels somewhat like a 30s Oscar Schmidt "Stella" -- rounded C shape rear, flat-profile fretboard, skinny/low frets, and 1 3/4" nut width -- and its 25" scale length reminds me of a Schmidt as well. It's a really fun guitar to play for flat-out strumming as well as old-timey picking styles.

Work included: a neck reset, replacement bridge, new nut and saddle, new ebony pins all-around, a fret level/dress, cleaning, and good setup. It plays spot-on, the neck is essentially dead straight with only 1/64" relief tuned-to-pitch, and it's strung with 11s-comparable-tension strings (50w, 38w, 28w, 20w, 16, 12). It plays with 1/16" action DGBE and 3/32" action EA at the 12th fret.

Scale length: 25"
Nut width: 1 11/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 1/2"
String spacing at saddle: 2 1/8"
Body length: 18 7/8"
Lower bout width: 15 1/4"
Upper bout width: 11 1/8"
Side depth at endpin: 4"
Top wood: solid mahogany
Back/sides wood: solid mahogany
Neck wood: poplar
Fretboard: ebonized maple
Neck shape: flat board, medium-big C-shaped rear
Bridge: new rosewood
Nut: new bone
Saddle: new bone, compensated

Condition notes: the fretboard extension dips-down from the rest of the board a bit and the frets up the neck are pretty low/shallow. A refret would give this guitar a more modern feel and a bit more guts, but it plays well as-is. The nut, bridge, saddle, and pins are all replacements, but the rest of the guitar is original.


The body shape is the same outline as found on Regal-made Oahu Hawaiians as well as the LeDomino Big Boy.


The MayBell branding IDs this as a guitar made for the Slingerland catalog. Note the nice old original tuners and the rosewood headstock veneer. The neck itself is poplar and the fretboard...


...is dark-stained maple. The dots are pearl and the frets are original brass ones of the smaller type. I've added side dots.


There are no cracks on the instrument whatsoever and its styling is as plain as it can be -- with only rounded-off edges instead of binding. Personally -- I think it's a great look combined with mahogany. 

The fretboard extension dips "down" on the top, but considering the fragile nature of it (it'd been mucked-about and split underneath in a prior attempted-neck-reset some time ago), I just glued it back on without adding a wedge below it. I should also mention that I added a "popsicle stick" brace below the fretboard extension, under the top, to bring the stability of that joint area "up to code."

The neck has also been reset -- both glued-in and shimmed-up in the traditional manner and also double-bolted internally for added strength.


The bridge is a replacement, somewhat oversized, rosewood "pyramid" type. The original bridge had a straight saddle and was split on the pins. Unfortunately it had been left on the guitar with tension for many, many years and the top had some damage under the bridge. I corrected this by way of a spruce bridge plate cap (lightweight soundboard material) and fill before regluing this new bridge. The result is a sturdy, effective repair.


As you can see, the bridge is nice and tall and has a good, tall saddle as well. The pins are all new ebony ones. There's only the tiniest bit of top deflection.





There's plenty of scritchy-scratchy over the back and sides, but the look is "well played," rather than carelessly-stored.



Its fun to see the "stripey" mahogany on a 30s guitar (where it's commonly seen on Harmony, Regal, and Kay makes). There are tons of people these days who complain (read: whine?) on forums about how newer Martins and the like with mahogany are "too stripey." What?

To me that's a feature and a looks-enhancer. As anyone who's around the wood enough knows, the non-stripey mahogany seen on older Martins is actually rarer rather than common. I prefer the look of a little figure, myself.



Comments

David Burt said…
Customer guitar or is it for sale? David
Jake Wildwood said…
David -- $900 takes it home. Going to list this and some others maybe tonight or tomorrow morning.