I have been asked to make this guitar playable. There is no identification on it. I looked in the book Regal Musical Instruments 1895-1955 by Bob Carlin and found one guitar that looks close and the dimensions given for the guitar are very close. I've attached two pages from the book.
The height at the 12th fret is 7/32 (guitar to pitch). It has nylon strings on it but I suspect it started as a steel string. Ladder bracing. There are some cracks that need to be attended to. I have not taken out the bolt in the heel of the neck - there is a wing nut on the other end, but have loosened it a bit and the heel towards the fingerboard seems to be tight against the body.
Also, someone wrote in pencil 1878 GB (as seen thru the soundhole). If I've identified it as a Regal, then it was made somewhere between 1900-1904 (according to the book)?
Is a neck reset still possible or is the neck been pulled to far up?
If a neck rest is possible, would it be best to set it up for nylon strings?
Looking forward to your replys.
A neck reset is always possible. The screw is a typical hack, I've seen many like this. Should be removed and the hole filled in with wood. The heel looks a bit thin, maybe it's better to make a wedge and glue to the heel instead of just sanding down the top of the heel for the reset of the neck. Maybe both. I would recommend drilling a hole through the heel and gluing in a round hardwood dovel to strengthen the heel if it's too weak.
Have a look at the neck, if it's curved upwards it can be straightened and you don't need that much correction of the neck angle. Feel inside too and check the brace above the sound hole, it may be loose. I would have removed the whole fingerboard, made the neck straight with heat and mounted a carbon fiber rod in the neck to keep it nice and straight.
The tailpiece tells me that this guitar is best suited for steel strings. A standard 0.10 set or Newtone Heritage (low tension) 0.12 would work great on this.
1900-1910 looks very probable for the look of the guitar and the tuners.
Hello Roger! Thank-you for replying.
There is some relief in the neck. The brace above the sound hole is solid.
As for straightening the neck, do you recommend one or two rods? And, what size of rod do you recommend? LMII and Stewmac have a couple of options for sizes.
Looking forward to your reply.
One or two rods in no major issue, you can have two thin ones or one thick one. The epoxy glue will keep it/them firmly glued in the routed channel.
I'm a bit special because I use a hollow carbon fiber rod, 10x10 mm with a 8 mm round hole in the middle, The hole is filled our with a round birch dovel. See my post. This rod will keep the neck almost straight in a 12 fret parlor, leaving a little relief with the strings at tension. I don't know exactly how thick and wide a solid rod should be to match this compound carbon/birch rod... but you may calculate it from the measures :-)
The good thing with a carbon rod in the neck is that the neck is predictable (hard or soft wood in the neck will not make a big difference in the relief with strings at tension) and the neck will stay straight many years to come.
Hello again Roger. Thanks for replying so fast. I'm going to go with a solid rod this time to keep things simple. Your posts have been very helpful!
Yes, an old capo made that damage :-)
You can try to put water on the dents using small wet cotton wads, that may make the dents smaller.
One permanent way to make the surface smoother is to put puddles of Stewmac 30 superglue on the dents and leave it to air dry for a couple of hours. You can't do the whole neck in one go, you need to rotate the neck to keep the glue in place. The round shape of the neck is a problem. Maybe repeat one or more times to really fill the dents with solid transparent glue. When dry, the best tool to carefully level the glue to the surface of the neck is the small flat Stewmac razor file. This file got the bite but slides on top of the lacquer. I use this file all the time, very nice tool. Finish it up with some fine sandpaper and steel wool. The fix will not be invisible, it will look the same as before more or less, but the surface will be really smooth to the touch.
that's a nice old guitar, worth the repair. A typical neck set should be no problem.
When I see a neck is 'flexy' because of the soft wood, I often install two carbon rods. I get them from a supplier, but I think Stu mac sells them .. 3/8" x 1/8". I made a jig to hold the neck in a 'flat' position, then I route and inlay the rods with epoxy.
Once dry, and the fingerboard reattached, the neck stays pretty straight and can take 11-50 steel strings, especially with the tailpiece.
Here's a photo of the neck in the jig with the rods installed.
A neck with carbon rods will hold for 0.11 strings. I said 0.10 because I'm so used to having a glued down bridge and not a tailpiece. And I'm always defensive when it comes to tension, if a 0.10 set feels right when playing I would go for that not to risk problems with the guitar later on with thicker strings. With a tailpiece most of the force is not twisting the top as with a glued bridge, so a 0.11 set will probably work fine!
There is one danger though. With more tension, the top may sink and the neck rotate in at the weak spot around the sound hole. The brace above the soundhole needs to be sturdy and well glued. If there are no reinforcements on either side of the soundhole between the two upper braces and the top is thin, it's a good idea to glue a pair of thin spruce pieces to reinforce that weak spot.
Yes, and the two extra braces are often used on the old Stella 12-strings to avoid the sound hole area distortion.
I often find these old 'parlor' era guitars sound really good with silk and steel strings. For the later 'catalog' guitar era (from the teens through 30') the heavier strings give more of the punchy 'blues' sound from the 78s, and of course for slide.
But the fiber rods are a big help, and I think the stiffness in the neck also adds to the tone .. that's my hunch, at least.
I'm not a fan of silk&steel strings, the best one I've tried is "John Pearse 610LM Silk Phos Bronze". They have more trebles than the usual rather dull silk&steel strings. I love Newtone Heritage 0.12 strings with the same tension as standard 0.10 sets, but the feel of thicker strings. Great sounding too!
Yes, the tone improves with a stiff neck, but not too stiff. The neck should have a small natural relief with strings in tension in my opinion, the flex of the neck will add some variation to the tone.