Regal R-615C 12 String Flat Top Acoustic Guitar , c. 1929

Regal  R-615C 12 String Flat Top Acoustic Guitar ,  c. 1929
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Item # 9165
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Regal R-615C Model 12 String Flat Top Acoustic Guitar, c. 1929, made in Chicago, natural lacquer finish, birch body, spruce top; poplar neck with ebonized fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

This is an extremely rare example of a pre-WWII flat-top 12-string guitar in amazingly well-preserved condition, with only the most minor playwear. It is a lovely if not particularly high-end product of Chicago's Regal company and most likely dates to the late 1920s, although it could be slightly later. This instrument is quite similar to the more familiar Stella guitars made in Jersey City by Oscar Schmidt, both in form and sound. The top is ladder-braced with the forward brace canted slightly, a familiar Chicago trademark not seen on Stellas.

The spruce top is decorated with fancy colored wood marquetry around the outer edge and sound hole, with white binding on the edges for extra measure. The back and sides are birch stained to resemble mahogany, with an elaborate decal backstrip. The bridge has a fretwire saddle and alignment slots for the strings; like the fingerboard it appears to be dark stained maple. The poplar neck has a typical period "V" profile with a slim slotted headstock carrying slotted strip tuners with composition buttons. The green-and-gold Regal decal adorns the headstock face, confirming the instrument's Chicago origins. The oddest fitting is the old Stella-style tailpiece, which has 7 pinholes and posts, a leftover from the manufacture in the 1910s of 11-string guitars!

This is a lovely example of an early Grand Concert size 12-string guitar, a completely authentic instrument for period playing styles. While obviously a relatively low budget item originally, it is still quite well-built by the standards of the day. The smaller body gives a brighter voice than the Leadbelly-approved rumble of the Jumbo 12s, more akin to the sound of players like Barbecue Bob. This is one of the best-playing pre-war 12-strings we have ever seen, and almost certainly the cleanest and best preserved.
 
Overall length is 41 in. (104.1 cm.), 14 1/2 in. (36.8 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 in. (10.2 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 26 1/4 in. (667 mm.).

This guitar is in stunningly clean and unmodified condition, an amazing survivor particularly considering the age and general fragility of pre-war 12-strings. The top finish has some scuffing, dents, pick marks, and dings, but no large areas of damage. The top has darkened somewhat along grain and check lines, probably from some sort of penetrating polish used to clean it at some point; the finish over much of the guitar shows signs of having been polished but no overspray or alteration beyond this. There is very little wear to the rest of the instrument, except a few worn spots on the headstock edges.

The neck has probably been reset, although there is no notable evidence; perhaps this is one of the few such guitars that never needed the procedure. Everything is original including the tuners, bridge, and eccentric 7-pin tailpiece. The only work performed was a light level to the original small brass frets and a tweak of the slots on the ebony nut. The top has a very slight dip in the center but is quite solid, and this is a truly excellent-playing and sounding instrument, again considering its age and fairly low budget origins. We can't imagine many of these exist, especially in this sort of condition, and if you've been looking for an authentic pre-WWII smaller body 12-string guitar this is an almost miraculous find. Excellent + Condition.