1930s Regal Junior Jumbo Flattop Guitar (X-Braced Conversion)

Guitar-a-holic Mr. Abram sent this in for repair (or consignment) a while back. While it was awaiting sprucing-up, plans changed for it and morphed into doing a rebrace and refret on it in an attempt to make it a good companion for him. He has specific wants that have eluded him thus far. I'm hoping that this will at least serve well if it doesn't exactly tick every box for him.

I've worked on and sold a number of Regal "Junior Jumbo" models (click here for one that's close in spec to this and with its original bracing intact) and they really are enjoyable guitars "as-is" once the usual work is done to make them play right.

They're ladder-braced to begin-with and generally have an open, full-sounding voice that's really nice for a relaxed fingerpicking approach. The problem is that because they're lightly-braced, the tops are a bit unstable and they also compress like crazy if you "dig-into" them to coax volume and cut from them. They don't have a lot of headroom, really, and like the Gibson-made Kalamazoo KG-11s they're vague copies of, that means that when you "dig-into" them, the sound is snappy and biting rather than full of oomph.

So, back to Mr. Abram -- he likes a wide nut, a bigger neck, and a smaller body size. This has all of that and with the additional boon of that KG-11-like "squashed" body shape which is always so comfortable in the lap because it pulls the neck towards your body.

By converting the bracing to a lightweight "Bohmann-style" double-x pattern, however, the sound has changed from what I described above to a mix of sounds -- it has the presence, snap, and openness of that original Regal voice but now it's coupled to something very much like an early-'50s Gibson LG-2 (mids-forward and woody) with some of the "air" and sustain that you expect out of something more like an OM. It's that long scale -- that always changes some things.

I think it's quite successful in its new state and the lightness of the bracing means it's responsive enough to use lighter-gauge strings (50w-11 or similar) and still get a round, full voice. If you go to the very end of the post, you can see some in-process photos of the bracing change.

Repairs included: a neck reset (it had a botched reset done in the past -- now it's glued and double-bolted at the neck block), refret with jumbo stock, x-brace conversion of the top, bridge reglue, saddle-slot conversion to drop-in, new bone saddle, replacement (StewMac antiqued/retro) tuners, replacement bridge pins and endpin, pickguard reglue, general cleaning, one hairline crack repair, side dots install, and setup.

Setup notes: the neck is straight, action is bang-on at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret, and it's strung with 52w-11 gauges (but bumped to 16/12 on top).

Scale length: 25 1/2"
Nut width: 1 13/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 5/8"
String spacing at bridge: 2 3/16"
Body length: 17 1/2"
Lower bout width: 15"
Waist width: 9 1/8"
Upper bout width: 10"
Side depth at endpin: 4"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back/sides wood: solid birch
Bracing type: double-x-braced
Fretboard: ebonized maple, bone nut
Bridge: original rosewood, replacement bone saddle
Neck feel: big V-shape, 10" board radius, jumbo frets

Condition notes: while much is original to the guitar, the saddle, pins, tuners, and top bracing is not. It has a patched bit on the back of the heel where there used to be a giant screw installed. There are pearl dots covering holes in the bridge wings where there used to be factory-installed bolts. The finish is worn throughout but still looks nice. There's a lot of chipping-away/falling-off finish on the sides and general scuffing/scratching all over. The top is a 3-piece one and one of those seams (near the bass side of the soundhole) was coming apart as a hairline crack on the upper bout and so that section is cleated/glued-up.

I wanted to reuse the original Kluson "openback" riveted tuners that this came with, but they were absolute garbage at this point, so I actually tossed them because the gears were so worn that they were useless on several shafts. I put these new, relic-style, StewMac Golden Age ones on instead. They're a significant upgrade.


Unknown said…
This guitar needs a name. I’m open to suggestions.

Ben Jackson said…
I’m already calling it Junior