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ca. 1938 Regal Esquire

Serial #:105, Regal Custom Shop label

Body size at lower bout: 18 1/2. Body depth: 4". Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut Width: 1 11/16" Neck depth: .90/1.03 1st/1th frets

Finish: Nitrocellulose lacquer

Materials: Solid carved spruce soundboard, arched flame maple back and sides, solid mahogany neck, Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with pearloid block inlay, abalone peghead inlay, bound fingerboard and soundholes; checkerboard body binding.

Hardware: Original chrome art-deco trapeze tailpiece. Vintage correct bound tortoise pickguard, chrome Grover Imperial tuners, compensated adjustable Brazilian rosewood bridge.

Notes: It's big. Really big. And production was small. Really small.

The Chicago based Regal Musical Instrument Company was one of America's largest guitar manufacturers for most of the first half of the 20th century. Founded in 1908, Regal introduced its first hand carved archtops in 1932. Though best known for producing Dobro and other house-brand instruments, Regal maintained a Custom Shop to produce hand-carved archtops of professional quality for brands such as Bacon and Day, Recording King, and others.

Regal's uppermost models were known as 'Coliseum' size. These behemoth guitars competed in the "size race" of the late 30's, as builders vied with each other to produce larger and louder instruments for the big band market. Though Gibson and Epiphone had been making 18" bout super jumbo guitars for several years, Regal upped the ante with an unprecedented body depth of a full four inches. The massive body that resulted is comparable only to the legendary Stromberg Master 400 in cubic volume.

With such a low serial number, we suspect this guitar to have been one of the very first of the Coliseum archtops, and it does exhibit a unique combination of features. While most of the firm's super jumbos carried the 'Regal Prince' or 'B&D Sultana' logos, this guitar is labeled as an 'Esquire', a designation later used for their 15" inch archtops. And while the former models had bodies of figured mahogany, this early example was crafted with back and sides of highly flamed arched maple veneer, the only one like it we have seen to date.

The top is carved of solid spruce, parallel braced for power and projection, with bound f-holes of unusual delicacy, checkerboard body binding, and raised 'fiddle-edge' trim bordering the sides. Finally, a distinctive original art-deco tailpiece in fitted, with later Grover Imperial tuners installed, both in matching chrome finish.

This remarkable guitar has been maintained in wonderful condition, without apparent cracks, and all-original sunburst finish. Apart from some scattered lacquer nicks, the guitar shows surprisingly light playwear, with little in the way of buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear. A recent neck set and frets give the instrument smooth low action, with excellent bridge height for optimal volume and tone, and a fresh high-precision setup.

The voice is as huge as the guitar itself: while some guitars bark, this one positively woofs, with tremendous volume and an enormous low-frequency response that is utterly unique. Massive and warm, this guitar has a quintessential swing rhythm sound, and was built to cut through an entire horn section without an amp.

The original case is included, and big enough to take a nap in. Fit for a musical gladiator, this Coliseum guitar awaits. One only: call now.

Setup: Bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge radius inspected and recurved as necessary; bridge wheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.

This instrument is strung with medium gauge bronze strings (.013-.056). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 5/64" to 6/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.

Case: Original black deluxe plush-lined hardshell case.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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