Regal Octofone , c. 1929

Regal  Octofone ,  c. 1929
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Item # 9014
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Regal Octofone, c. 1929, made in Chicago, natural top, dark stained back and sides finish, birch back and sides, spruce top; poplar neck with ebonized fingerboard.

One of the more interesting experiments to come out of the Chicago-based Regal Company, the Octofone was advertised as "Eight instruments in One". What it really looks like is a small body double-strung tenor guitar, but Regal claimed: "The owner of the Octophone has the advantage of combining eight different instruments in one, namely Tenor Banjo, Tenor Guitar, Mandolin, Mandola, Mandocello, Ukulele, Tiple and Taropatch. These changes are brought about by variations in tuning". This is the lower priced of two Octofone models Regal offered in the late 1920s, originally selling for $15.00.

The birch body is double-bound on the back, single-(black)-bound around the spruce top, and has a distinctive shape rather like an elongated guitar with both upper bouts cutaway. The one-piece tailpiece is stamped "Bell Brand, Patented, N.M.S. Co.", who are better remembered as the original makers of Black Diamond Strings. The rosette has red, white, and orange wood marquetry and black binding.

The neck is narrow and has a slim slightly tapered headstock stamped PAT. APLD. FOR. with an oval decal on the face reading "OCTOFONE - reg. US pat. Off". The oval sound hole label reads "The Mark of Better Instruments, Made by the Regal Musical Instrument Co., Chicago." with a crown logo. This is a unique-looking and sounding instrument, perhaps not the miracle instrument the makers claimed but a versatile and very playable one nonetheless.
 
Overall length is 32 15/16 in. (83.7 cm.), 10 3/4 in. (27.3 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 in. (7.6 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 21 in. (533 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/8 in. (35 mm.).

This one is a bit rough looking but a good-playing and sounding example. The top has a large patch of wear below the strings extending to the sound hole, and the finish overall shows dings, dents, and scrapes. There is a blemish on the back that looks like a moisture stain and some corrosion to the metal tailpiece. The neck has been reset solidly but not that artfully, and small scars are visible along the heel seams. The bridge is a very nicely done ebony replica of the original. The decal on the headstock has partially flaked away. We have had better-looking Octophones but none better-sounding or playing than this well-worn genuine relic! Very Good Condition.