1920s Regal-made Flamed Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

These pretty little '20s ukes are getting harder and harder to find, lately. I used to buy them up and work on them all the time for resale, but I suppose folks are figuring-out how sweet they are and are keeping them well-hid. These were made, in many, many, many variations by Regal in the '20s and early '30s and this uke is closest in style to the Wendell Hall "Red Head" model.

This particular uke shows off Regal's supply of incredibly-flamed Cuban mahogany like crazy. The only bits not made from it are the neck, which is poplar, and the braces, which are spruce. Like the Red Head models, it's unbound and no-frills save for a pretty rosette, but that simplicity recalls Hawaiian ukes from the time -- which is what Regal seems to have been aping. This one is also all-original save, perhaps, the tuners which are '30s or '40s replacements, I think.

All of this type of Regal uke I've played (after work) have been pretty loud, sweet, and forward instruments that sit well when playing with others. They have more kick out than many other "peanut-shaped" little sopranos from the time. This one is, too, though I have it strung with "titanium"-style nylon strings at the moment which have a classic, bell-like, strummy, tone but snap a bit more on the frets than fluorocarbon when fingerpicking hard.

Work included resetting the neck via glue and a hidden bolt, a fret level/dress and some fret seating, installation of a lightweight bridge plate/cleat to support a 1 1/2" hairline crack at the treble side of the bridge, some seam repairs, and brace repairs. It plays on-the-dot with 1/16" action at the 12th fret and a straight neck. It's got a 1 3/8" nut width and 13 1/4" scale length. The back of the neck is a soft-V/C hybrid shape and very comfortable. The lower bout is 6 1/4" which is bog-standard for a uke of the period. I think a lot of these ukes sound wonderful tuned-up to D-tuning, where they get sparkly and chimey, but they hold their own beautifully at C-tuning, too.

Note how the endblock area of the top is a shade darker than the rest of the top -- that's where someone's forearm placement discolored it. Obviously, this fella has had some good play in it!

The tight flame in the mahogany on the back is gorgeous.

Because these instruments have a doweled neck joint, I "reset" the neck when it's come loose in the traditional fashion -- with glue -- but I also install a bolt through the neck block into the heel. It's the only way that I've found to keep these doweled, Chicago-style joints sturdy and secure to the body for the long-haul. The only evidence on the outside of the uke is a tiny, filled, pinhole that I pre-drilled the screw access with.