1930s Regal Custom Shop Model 1932 Carved-Top Roundhole Archtop Guitar

Old Regal catalogs list this as a Model 1932 but the same instrument can be found under the Washburn (Lyon & Healy) brand as a Model 5250 (though with the sunburst finish of a 5255). It's basically a Regal-made take on a same-period Martin C-1 archtop -- that being a 000-size, round-hole, x-braced carved-top instrument. The higher-end "Custom Shop" Regal instruments (like this one) tend to be on-par with Gibson and Martin builds and have the same sort of "glow" to the finish and detailing like you'd expect on a same-period Martin. They're good stuff.

I actually think this Regal is probably a little louder and a fair bit gutsier than the Martin C-1 I had in recently, though it's maybe less refined and a bit more aggressive. It's very lightweight and lightly-built, too, after the Martin fashion, and has a Martin-esque neck profile and handling as well. 

While a lot of archtops don't do the "flattop stuff" very well, this one will do traditional flatpicking techniques just fine and it makes a good fingerpicker, too. It's responsive and lively and doesn't take much energy to get it to dish-out sound. The bottom-end is a lot wider and fuller than most archtops and it has a more "open" presence, too, with a "creamy" top-end. The compression it gets from its archtop setup is heard mostly in the saucy mids, which punch right out into whatever room it's in. It's got a good, velvety sound to the lows and highs, too.

It's a little worn around the edges in the finish, but structurally it's in good health. The only cracks on it are a couple of 1" repaired hairlines right near the endblock... where it looks like some sort of pickup controls may have been mounted at one point. It's also mostly-original, with the only replacement part on it being a mixmash parts-bin tailpiece I rigged-up for it.

It has a comfy, C/V neck with a wide, 1 7/8" nut width. Fingerpickers will enjoy that kind of spread! The bar frets are tallish and, as usual, have a bit of a rectangular feel, but if you have a light touch, you will feel right at home and the mass they provide really does help the sound. With frets, I always think high-mass is the way to go. All notes "pop" a lot more.

The neck is a 5-piece mahogany/rosewood affair and it's durable and straight under tension. Because of the lightness of the top and its bracing, I've used a "custom" set of light strings, gauged 54w, 40w, 30w, 22w, 16, 12 to relieve a little tension. I think regular lights would be fine on it, too, but it would definitely not be happy with mediums.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, replacement "strapping" braces for the back (all the back bracing was missing), compensation adjustments to the saddle and modification of the original bridge into an adjustable-height bridge, swapped-in tailpiece, brace repairs to the top, cleaning, and setup.

Top wood: solid spruce

Back & sides wood: solid mahogany

Bracing type: x, scalloped

Bridge: ebony w/bone insert, adjustable via two small hex nuts

Fretboard: ebony

Neck wood: mahogany w/rosewood lam

Action height at 12th fret: 3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
String gauges: 54w, 40w, 30w, 22w, 16, 12

Neck shape: medium C/V

Board radius: ~12"

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: medium-narrow, bar stock

Scale length: 25 5/16"

Nut width: 1 7/8"

Body width: 15 1/4"

Body depth: 4 1/8"

Condition notes: replacement back "strapping" braces, replacement tailpiece, bridge modified, but otherwise original. There are two tiny hairline (repaired) cracks near the endblock on top but it's otherwise crack-free. There's a bunch of wear and tear to the finish throughout but it's all superficial. Due to its being a round-hole design, the top does show a little distortion around the soundhole as you'd expect -- it looks the same on Martin and Gibson round-hole archtops as it does on this guy.

It comes with: a chip case. If I have a hard case in my pile of cases that will fit it, I will include that, but many do not have enough depth for the adjustable bridge.


Unknown said…
Jake, is this a consignment?
Michael Mulkern said…
Jake, according to Title 13, Chapter 019, Subchapter 004 of Vermont Statutes Online:
Fretted instrument repairmen may not wear button down long sleeve shirts during normal business hours from June 1 to September 30.
Jake Wildwood said…
MM: Hey, man, I didn't make the weather lately! We keep ping-ponging from 50F and rainy to 85F and oppressive... :D