1890s Regal-made Fancy Bowlback Mandolin

It seems like I've worked on a lot of 1890s, Indianapolis-made Regal mandolins this year. Here's one more just in time for the holidays! It's all-original, crack-free, in stunning condition, and came with its original case. It's like it was stashed in a closet, de-strung, for 100 years.

A friend of mine bought this as a surprise for her man, and I got to get it up to snuff. For an instrument as old as this, it barely needed anything -- just a fret level/dress, cleaning, compensation at the bridge, and setup. Since said fella has a number of great mandolins, I did something a little sneaky and strung it in octaves on the G&D courses for a more exciting, different sound. I really like the high jangle and chordal-sweetness this gives bowlback instruments. They're often on the dry and crisp side for a lot of folk/old-time players and the chime/jangle of the octaves works with that sort of tone to make it stand out.

As a bonus, the standard mandolin compensation works just about right with the unwound strings in the octave set, so it's easy enough to go back and forth. On this one I have gauges 14/30w, 10/18w, 13/13, 9/9 low to high. It's got a short, 13" scale length and the whole feel is springy and fast -- though being a nicer-grade Regal, it also has decent volume, too.

The top has fancy, multi-ply purfling and pearl/ebony binding. The pickguard is celluloid tortoise with a ton of pearl-work in it -- including the bling-tastic butterfly.

The headstock veneer has the usual Regal "swoop" at its top. The nut and fretboard are ebonized maple.

The bowl is made from contrasting strips of maple and rosewood with what-would-have-been bright-red divider lines between them.

An original, 1890s, Regal-branded (hence the crown) pack of strings came with it. They're gauged roughly the same as a modern GHS A240 set -- around 28/30w for the G, 18/20w for the D, 12/13 for the A, and 9ish for the E.

This note about how to place your bridge came with the strings. Isn't that kind of amazing? They were trying to educate the owner about how to compensate the bridge. However, "1/16 of an inch shorter," is a little confusing when they're meaning to say that you add 1/16" to your distance-location measurement for the G&D courses.