1930s Regal-made Diamond Head 00-Size Flattop Guitar

Of the various Hawaiian-themed stenciled guitars, I think these Diamond Head ones are near the top in terms of graphic quality and cool factor. I worked on another one of these years ago, and the owner of that one let another customer of mine (both studio musicians in "the big city") borrow it long-term. That "borrower" eventually found this one roaming around on eBay and had it sent here for work before shipping-on. Now that original Diamond Head can go back to live with its herd!

The build-quality on these Diamond Heads isn't at the same level as Regal's "custom shop" Martin-style x-braced models, though they get close -- the appointments, dimensions, and weight are closer, but the top is ladder-braced and the neck is still poplar (rather than mahogany) with a giant old V-shaped back and huge 1 13/16" nut width. Being a 00 (14" lower bout) 12-fret with a slightly deeper body, this feels and looks bigger than it actually is because of the long body length.

Tone-wise, it's got a big, airy, open, mids-heavy, warm voice. This makes it an ideal fingerpicker but I can imagine it sounding glorious for flatpicking in an open tuning. Interestingly, it has a "Gibson" 24 3/4" scale and the 54w-12 lights it came strung-up with suit the guitar well (the last Diamond Head I had in was a little lighter on the bracing and so I think it left with 11s).

The top is solid spruce (no cracks) and the back and sides are solid mahogany (with one tiny hairline -- fixed -- on the side). It looks like the whole top (at least) got a shot of overspray, but the guitar looks quite authentic, despite it.

There was a lot of work done on this before it got to me -- including a neck reset and newer, ebony bridge (with compensated saddle slot). My work was simple because of that -- a fret level/dress, bridge plate/brace cap (in spruce -- like the material of the plate itself), a bit of saddle adjustment, install of new ebony pins all-around, and general setup. It's now playing on-the-dot.

The last guy to work on this installed a bone nut which, while a little rough, fits with the personality of the guitar. There are extra screw-holes at the headstock, too, so while these tuners are period I'm not entirely sure if they're original to it.

The fretboard is maple with a gold-sparkle celluloid veneer. The black bits are sprayed-on stencils. This has its original, funky, old brass frets and I've added some side dots, too.

The newer ebony bridge is nicely-made and fits well with the look of the guitar. The saddle is bone.

Don't you love that stencil? It's classic and, in person, the orange/black really, really pops.

The mahogany used on the back is Regal's typical somewhat-curly stuff.

Interestingly, the endpin hole was tiny. I drilled it, reamed it, and put a standard-issue ebony pin in place.

The original, arched, chip case came with the guitar.


charlie said…
Hi Jake,

I agree the graphic is one of the best Hawaiian themed ones produced. Who was first with the graphic, Gibson or Regal? I had a thing for Hawaiian decorated guitars for a time and could never pick one of these up for a reasonable price. I now see from your photos that Regal seemed to have put a bit more effort into the build of this model. Great photos as usual...thanks for sharing.