1930s Slingerland (Regal) MayBell "Cathedranola" Wood-Disc Resonator Guitar

While these guitars are often labeled "faux-resonator" guitars when they're sold, that's actually incorrect. A typical "faux-resonator" model is just a normal flattop, tailpieced guitar (usually) with a coverplate screwed to the top of it. In the case of this instrument, the body is made like a normal resonator guitar with a thicker ply-birch body and a hole cut-out under the coverplate. Into this hole (and recessed under it) is a solid spruce disc of soundboard material with ladder bracing and a glued-on pin bridge. It's, in effect, a "normal top" but built in isolation from the rest of the body.

Without the coverplate installed, it sounds an awful lot like a hybrid between an archtop's snappy bite and a same-period parlor guitar's woody thwock. Once the coverplate is reinstalled the frequencies peak in the mids and upper mids and transform this into a biting little instrument with volume just a hair lower than a smaller-bodied Dobro from the time. The coverplate adds a little "sting" to the sound and, with a bit of a captured "second soundbox," helps to amplify the tone and add a bit of a "reverb" effect.

That's a long-winded way of saying this guitar is cool. It was made by Regal in Chicago for the Slingerland brand and these were often sold as "Cathedranolas," though the actual Cathedranola models were a slightly-earlier version using a balsa-wood disc "resonator" instead. The necks are big-ish and V-shaped and sport wide-ish nuts. They make great fingerpickers (and especially-so if you use metal fingerpicks) and I love them tuned open and ringy.

Work was the usual fare for one of these, but after it was done it left the guitar playing spot-on and fast and structurally good to go.

Repairs included: a neck reset, fret level/dress, side dots install, recut of saddle slow and install of new compensated bone saddle (it's a drop-in slot so easy to adjust height), cleaning, setup.

Top wood: solid spruce resonator disc, ply birch top

Back & sides wood: ply birch

Bracing type: ladder

Bridge: maple w/bone saddle

Fretboard: ebony

Neck wood: mahogany/maple

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

Neck shape: medium-bigger softish V

Board radius: flat

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: medium-low

Scale length: 24"

Nut width: 1 3/4"

Body width: 13"

Body depth: 4 1/4"

Weight: 5 lbs

Condition notes: it's crack-free and visually quite clean (for its type) in the body save for muck in the old ebonized-maple fretboard's top. The frets around the 12th fret are also a little lower than the rest after leveling/dressing the board -- mostly due to wonky regluing of that area in the past (these boards tend to get weird as they age). Everything except the saddle is original to the guitar. How about that?