1930s Regal-made Carved-Top Archtop Guitar

Folks, this is hands-down one of the best archtops I've played so far -- if what you're after is that classic, '30s/'40s big-band archtop vibe. It's loud, very present in the mids/lower-mids, and has a full-sounding, velvety, "domed-peak" snap to the trebles. They have an odd, back-of-your-mouth, percussive sound to them that I only hear in my most-favorite carved-top guitars from this era (read: fancy Gibsons). It gives them a bit more liveliness that I can't quite describe correctly.

Anyhow, it makes it a lot of fun to play "trad style" but it's a sound that also works great for old-time backup and bass-run, Mother Maybelle-ish stuff. It might be a little too nuanced for country-blues or something that wants a less-even voice, though. I wish the video clip could provide you with exactly the sound that I hear when I play it.

The guitar was basically ready to go structurally/cosmetically when it arrived here for customer repair, but it did need a neck reset. It looks like someone attempted it in the past but didn't get the angle right. The extension "ramped-up" ski-jump style and so the action was a little too high on the treble side and it fretted-out nearing the joint. Oh well.

Post-work, it plays fast and spot-on. The neck is straight even with its long scale and 54w-12 payload. It has a very wide nut and a bulky neck, though, so the feel is not for everyone. That's long been my only gripe with old Regals: folks who have big hands or like wide necks will love them but folks like me who find '50s Gibson C-shaped necks or '60s Fender medium-C/tight radius necks "home base" will find them not quite right. I like these fine for melody work but I choke-up on chords because I do thumb-overs a lot.

Neat note: this guy has Brazilian rosewood back and sides, though the back is ply while the sides are solid. Second neat note: the top is x-braced.

Repairs included: neck reset, fret level/dress, cleaning, slight compensation of the bridge, setup.

Made by: Regal

Made in: Chicago, IL, USA

Top wood: solid spruce (carved)

Back & sides wood: solid Brazilian rosewood sides, ply Braz. rosewood back

Bracing type: x

Bridge: rosewood

Fretboard: rosewood

Neck wood: mahogany

Tone: aggressive, good lower mids/mids, velvety/punchy top-end

Action height at 12th fret: 3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
String gauges: 54w-12 lights

Neck shape: medium-big V

Board radius: ~10"

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: medium-wide

Scale length: 25 3/8"

Nut width: 1 13/16"

Body length: 20"

Body width: 15 1/2"

Body depth: 3 1/2"

Weight: 4 lb 13 oz

Condition notes: it's all-original, crack-free, and clean save minor finish weather-checking and small scratches here and there. There's a little whitish haze/blush -- presumably from the last guy's steam-out of the neck joint -- around the fretboard extension and heel. It's barely visible, though.


Brad Smith said…
This archtop was made by Regal for Montgomery Ward and featured in the 1934 Ward catalog. Many have a "Ward" decal on the headstock but you see others without it. It retailed at $34.95, "usual value $75" for the rosewood one with inlayed position markers and a less expensive maple version with dot markers. Nice instruments if you come across one. Sound great as well for jazz chord voicings.
Unknown said…
I know where there is a tenor version of this guitar. I may have to do some horse trading.

Scott V.
Jake Wildwood said…
Brad, thanks! I was going to go look back at that ad page and info from you for it, but have been in a rush as usual... :)
Brad Smith said…
Scott, this may hurt more than help, but i have a friend who has the tenor version and swears by it! Jake, you are the most together, laid back, rushed person i have ever met.
Tony E. said…
Hi Jake! Has this been sold already? I didn't see it listed on the shop. Hard to say if I'm too late or too early!
Jake Wildwood said…
Tony: it's not for sale, sorry Mr!