Opinions on Regal mandolins

Opinions on Regal mandolins

Anyone got any? There have been a few 1930’s ish Regals for sale of late on e-bay and Mandolin Café and I have been tempted. To me they seem like a bargain and, I must admit, I like the idea of a bit of history behind an instrument. So, are they a good buy from the point of view of the sound and value for money? ( Please don’t advise me not to buy instruments over the net. I live in Tasmania and don’t really have an option )

Re: Opinions on Regal mandolins

Regal were established in 1908 and were largely responsible for the manufacture of student guitars/ mandolins in and around the Chicago area. On the whole they did not manufacture high end mandolins. Indeed if they had any area of speciality it would probably lean toward dobros and dobro mandolins.

Regal mandos often pop up on the market at a fairly decent price and one built in the 30s will usually set you back around $2-300 for an ex-student model. As for quality and tone. Well it’s not a Gibson - but at least it will get you onto the antique market. If you anxious to go the antique route, you may want to consider a bowl back - there are plenty around at good prices and personally I think that for ITM they sound better (but that’s a whole different thread!!).


Re: Opinions on Regal mandolins

I should have added that Regal also produced a few high end custom built mandos for specific customers, but these are more likely to find their way to the private auctions rather than ebay.

Post 1930 Regals will be quite common as between about 1940 and 1950 they were one of the world’s largest manufacturers. Given they were mass-produced I would suggest don’t buy unless you can at least see and if that isn’t possible then ask for a number of detailed colour photos showing the bridge, headstock, frets and back.

Re: Opinions on Regal mandolins

Have you ever heard of Daniel Brauchli? He lives in Tasmania and makes some pretty nice mandolins. Earlier this year I bought through him a mandolin wich was made by an apprentice of him. Tom Chippendal.
I live in the Netherlands and went across the globe to buy a mandolin in Tasmania.
So even if you live in Tasmania there’s always a choice.


Re: Opinions on Regal mandolins

I used to own a Regal Octophone, which was a sort of mandocello version. Octo, because it could with a tuning tweak here or a capo there, be played as eight different instrumnents, Mandolin, mandola, mandocello, tipple, Taro Patch (whatever on earth that is!) tenor guitar, tenor banjo and ukelele. I THINK I got them all right. They called these sort of things hybrid instruments and they were a small sensation in the 1930s.

It was a really nicely built, nice looking instrument, with a clean bright sound, not tinny at all. Eamon Doorley from Danu asked for a play on it, and I had not played it much in years, he loved it, and it loved him, so he is now the proud papa. I know it has a better home than I was able to give it!

I also once owned a Stradolin mandolin, from the same era, very art deco looking. It was fairly decent.

Here is a link to Regal’s Octophone:

Regal Octophone

I recently bought one that had been taking up space on the floor of a local music store for the previous 18 months. I was there to pick up a guitar that was being worked on and had an hour to kill. It caught my eye and I ended up buying it, thinking that for $450 it would at least provide some fun. It had been superbly repaired and set up. (two cracks).

It’s a quiet instrument with absolutely stunning overtones, perfectly balanced. All but perfect intonation, better than any fretted instrument I’ve owned. The microphone in a quiet room loves this instrument. If someone had told me that it was $4,000, I’d have believed them based on the sound and how it played, though I’ve had been surprised that it was sitting on the floor in the traffic zone where it could easily have been kicked off of it’s stand.

I’ve only seen this one, so I’ve no idea how the others might sound or play. This one is a beautiful fit for Irish music, though not for pub sessions, where it’s subtly and richness of tones gets lost.