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Details about  vintage 20s Regal F/A Style PreWar Mandolin Kluson tuners-Tonk Bros-Harmony/Kay

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vintage 20s Regal F/A Style PreWar Mandolin Kluson tuners-Tonk Bros-Harmony/Kay
Item Sold
Item condition:
May 08, 2012
Winning bid:
US $281.00
31 bids ]
$21.00 Standard Shipping | See details
Item location:
St Paul, MN, United States


eBay item number:
Seller assumes all responsibility for this listing.
Last updated on  May 02, 2012 10:54:26 PDT  View all revisions

Item specifics

Used: An item that has been used previously. The item may have some signs of cosmetic wear, but is fully ... Read moreabout the condition

c. 1920's 'TBC Sterling' brand Scroll Style Mandolin

  • a fully restored 1920's classic with a cool Art Deco logo!

  • solid spruce top and birch back and sides with original open back Kluson made tuners, lovely nitrocellulose finish, original bridge and tailpiece!

  • PLAYS NICE! a lot of miles left ahead for this one! new BONE NUT! recently repaired and fully restored!

  • stays in tune and sounds fantastic !

  • Starting at only 99 cents with no reserve! INCLUDES ORIGINAL CANVAS CASE & 'GUCKERT'S' MANDOLIN CHORD BOOK!!

  • This is an auction for a rare and unusual 'TBC Sterling' brand mandolin that has been completely restored and plays and sounds fantastic. It includes its original soft case and the Guckert's chord chart that was purchased with it back in the early to mid 1920's. These rare Regal made mandolins were heavily influenced by the high styles of what Gibson was doing, and are clearly better made (with an arched top and back) than most of the period Regal mandolins. I absolutely love the form and design. It calls back to a bygone age and is a serious head turner! 'TBC Sterling' was a brand name used by the Tonk Brothers Company (...TBC, get it?) out of Chicago, IL. They started around 1900 and grew until they were one of largest musical distributors in the World. They mostly moved instrument through their mail order catalogs but also sold to music stores and other outlets like department stores and even through schools. They had several different manufacturers over the years as diverse as Lyon & Healy, Harmony, Weissenborn, Kay, Martin, Gibson, Larson Brothers, and like this one, Regal. You can see in their catalogs how they would sell everything from fancy slide guitars to beginner banjo ukes (and everything in between) as well as accessories and even lessons. They consolidated a lot of their power after the stock market crash of 1929 and had dozens of different brand names that were made to order by these factories. They had catalogs that sold their instruments for sale from sea to shining sea. By the 1950's they were gone, but many of their instruments remain.

    This unique design was one Regal was manufacturing very briefly around late 1910's-early 1920's. You can tell by the style and reverse orientation of the tuners that it was made before 1930. Stylistically, the influence of Gibson A style mandolins were clearly part of this design, and you can see the influence on this design of the 'Florentine' F-styles as well. It has a very Art Deco feel to it, as you can also see a similar design to the headstock logo, which has a lovely female floral form that captures the age so clearly. The design is certainly one that will get noticed. I bought one of these at a antique show once and I probably got asked about 20 times walking out the door what it was. People (not even musicians) were totally fascinated because it clearly is from another time long ago forgotten. And that is what I love about these, they really step right out of antiquity with their aesthetics and exaggerated form. It is a very well made instrument for the time. It has a nice ebony fingerboard with real abalone pearl dots, solid spruce top and birch back and sides. The original hardware of the ebony bridge with a bone saddle, nice Bell Brand tailpiece, and original Kluson made tuners that work great are all there. You can check out tons of photos at the bottom of the listing, as well as soundfiles where you can stream audio of me playing this mando...Check it all out below!

    As I said, this mandolin has been fully restored, repaired and even upgraded to be a nice player for years to come. I got this from a dealer who I have bought a couple of other items from in the past. He has a good eye for instruments of this era, and always has a cool parlor guitar, mandolin, and banjo or two for me to check out. This one has been fully restored by a professional repair person with any issues fully addressed. It was an estate sale item from the children of the original owner. When he got it the instrument many of the seams where open on the instrument, the original wooden nut was cracked, it had one top crack and it needed some cleaning and general TLC. First, all the seams were sealed up with hide glue (like the original glue), as was the one top crack it has. I am not sure if the top crack has a cleat under it, but it feels very solid and does not flex at all. The repair person made a new bone nut from scratch for it, which greatly improves its projection and tone. He also evened out some of the slots on the original bone saddle so it is nice and even playing. The original tuners were cleaned up and given a nice lubrication so that they turn smoothly and cleanly. The instrument was cleaned slowly and brought back to a state where the original finish shines nicely and the honest wear shows. You can see the (french polish?) finish has a nice patina with fine crazing and weather checking to it. I like the deep red-brown tone to the finish, it reminds me a lot of the finish Stickley furniture had at the time, too. All in all, it should be a great piece for someone to get many more years out of.

    After going through repair it sounds and plays very nicely, which a rich old time sound unlike any new mandolin I have heard. It reminds of some earlier 1900's Gibson A styles I have owned, with different delivery than your modern mando. Give the soundfiles below a listen, you will hear what I mean. It really does a great old Bluegrass or Gospel sort of sound and would be great for a soulful Americana or Alt Country vibe, too. Like a Gibson A style, it is an arched solid spruce top but I do not know if it is carved or pressed top. It is setup with nice low action that is not too low as to lose any tone or volume. It has a nice setup overall without any dead frets or buzzing I could find. You can see measurements of the string height and nut width below if you want to see for yourself. It is a fine player to me, with a medium sized neck that is easy to get around on. The frets have a small bit of wear, but no large pits or issues I could find. Condition-wise, you can see it has some playing wear to the top, and some finish worn away on the back of the neck. The mandolin certainly has been played thoughout its life, but still has been well cared for. The only thing missing is the original pickguard, which you can see the shadow of the mounting hardware on the top where it once was and a piece of binding omitted where it would have mounted to the side of the fingerboard. These older celluloid pickguards of this era almost all came apart over the years due to their chemical composition breaking down. It is pretty common stuff. It would be easy to fit a new one if someone wanted, or simply enjoy it 'au naturale'. Either way, it is a fine looking piece that is sure to turn heads!

    Enough gibber-jabber! Listen to a couple of audio recordings of me playing this with a medium pick from about 3 feet away. I warn you, though...I am not much of a mandolin player!... older Americana vibe on this one with some single notes and sparse chords...

    ...some single notes then simple chords...

    Ugh. No sane, un-intoxicated bluegrass band is going to be calling me up after that demonstration of how to stink on a mando. At least you got to hear it. I am sure you'll do better justice on it. I am hack but this deserves a decent, loving home. Trust me, this vintage Regal made mandolin will make you smile! It includes the original canvas carry bag you see in the photos below, as well as the original 'Guckert's Mandolin Chord Book' dated to 1919. Pretty cool! The book is in pretty good shape for its age, especially that is so light paper. It has some loss on the first couple of pages as well as some wear to the spine and a fold on the back, but it is in really pretty good shape. Wow! The original case protects it well, but is sort of a fixer upper. The case is missing its handle and leather bottom latch, but something could easily be fitted to make this work without much effort. Heck, even an old belt would work! It is certainly cool to have the whole thing together like it is! I will make sure it arrives at your door as safely as possible from my end. I take my time packing instruments because I have seen what happens when you don't (yes, I buy stuff on eBay sometimes, too!). So I will do my best to have this experience be a sappy love story for you, not a grisly horror movie. Ok? I have shipped thousands of 'em in my life and will be sure this baby makes it in one piece. No matter if you live in Australia, Antwerp, or Akron, OH. And did I mention that it is starting at 99 cents?

    For USA bidders I take Paypal and payments mailed in, but no personal checks (although eBay is gong to Paypal only soon!). Paypal only on international bidders, please email me for your shipping rates oustide the 48 continental US states. Payments must be made or confirmed within 48 hours (unless otherwise stated by me personally) or I move to the next bidder on the list. This is AS IS, folks. This mandolin is not warrantied in any way due to its condition and age. Bidders be warned. Auction is as is, no returns whatsoever. There. I said it twice. Doesn't mean I don't love you. Just want you to hear it. I hope this goes to a happy home! All sounds, songs, and images are copyrighted material, so pirate them at your own peril. Seriously, I have a team of trained rabid attack dogs that do nothing but cruise the internet looking for interlopers to feed upon. You probably aren't even reading this, but if you are...beware their wrath. Anyways...feel free to ask questions! Email me if you want to see any more pictures, I have tons of them that probably did not make it into the massive picture show below because I am nuts about this mando! Thanks!


    On May-02-12 at 10:54:26 PDT, seller added the following information:

    Well, I guess those soundfiles were a little funny! Sounded like a guitar? Yup. After some HTML wrangling I determined those were from an old auction. Here are the CORRECT ONES taken from this mandolin. Sorry for the mix up: older Americana vibe on this one with some single notes and sparse chords...

    ...some single notes then simple chords...

    Hope that clears things up for everyone. Sorry if HTML cannot make me a better mando player after all of that...

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