1930s Regal-made Norwood Chimes Dobro Resonator Guitar

The Wards-sold "Norwood Chimes" resonator guitar is a fairly rare bird. It has a Regal-made body and neck but sports a genuine Dobro cone, spider bridge, and super-deco coverplate with engraving. With a small-jumbo body shape and pearloid headstock, it's the spitting-image of mid-'30s cool.

This one is a customer's instrument and it's seen much abuse over its life. More recent injustices include a total refinish to natural (it's not a terribly-good job, either), slap-dash seam and binding repairs, and a "neck reset" that involved hacking-off the dovetail and double-bolting the neck. The neck also had over 1/32" warp down its length and the fretboard was beginning to get troubled with hairline cracks and chip-outs (it being the usual ebonized maple that deteriorates).

Sound-wise, this guitar has a bright, nasal, metallic quality to it that's a little more punch and outward  zip compared to the usual Dobro smoothness and honk. It makes a nice trad-jazz chord-chopper in a pinch and I actually think it's almost more-suited to the role of replacing an archtop in an ensemble than it is to dirty blues or spanky folk.

Work included: resetting the neck to a proper angle, adding two more screws/bolts to the joint, and using epoxy on it for good luck as well. I hate that last bit, but the way the joint was mangled, I wanted to be sure of its stability. The cone and soundwell was fine, so my only work there was to make new, compensated saddles from ebony. I addressed neck warp by removing the frets, planing the board, and refretting. I had to fuss a lot over the deteriorating fretboard extension and because of that, it wears a mixed set of frets -- jumbo up to the 14th and medium after that. I had to do other minor cosmetic jobs, too. After work the neck is straight and it plays bang-on with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret, strung with 54w-12 gauges.

Scale length: 25 1/4"
Nut width: 1 13/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 1/2"
String spacing at saddle: 2 3/16"
Body length: 19 3/4"
Lower bout width: 15 3/4"
Upper bout width: 11"
Side depth at endpin: 3 3/4"
Top wood: ply spruce
Back/sides wood: solid birch
Neck wood: poplar
Fretboard: ebonized maple
Neck shape: 16-20" radius with big, soft-V rear
Bridge: original spider w/ebony saddles
Nut: original bone

Condition notes: refinished, mucked-up binding, non-original (but '50s-era) tuners, non-original endpin, but otherwise original hardware. There's wear and tear throughout and I've added three extra position dots at the fretboard extension.

The new frets allow this thing to play like a modern guitar and give it a hair more sustain and roundness to the notes, too. More mass in the frets = almost always better tone.