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Details about  vintage PreWar Nick Lucas Acoustic Archtop Guitar-Regal

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vintage PreWar Nick Lucas Acoustic Archtop Guitar-Regal
Item Ended
Item condition:
--not specified
20 Jul, 2011 02:30:46 BST
Winning bid:
US $812.47
Approximately £535.29(including postage)
36 bids ]
Will post to United Kingdom. Read item description or contact seller for postage options. | See details
Item location:
St Paul, MN, United States

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1930's Regal made Nick Lucas archtop guitar

  • a very rare USA made pre-war archtop with killer performance and awesome loud tone!

  • all solid mahogany with wide fancy binding! awesome Art Deco 'firestripe' pickguard!

  • full neck reset, full refret, and tons of work done to it to bring it back to life and make it play great! original high end Grover tuners!

  • HUGE fat neck! a very collectible guitar from the golden age of acoustics!

  • thick ebony fingerboard! lovely real abalone pearl block inlays!

  • stays in tune, sounds like a dream and functions great!

  • Starting at only 99 cents with no reserve! INCLUDES ORIGINAL STRAP and NICK LUCAS LESSON BOOK!!

  • This is an auction for a very rare example of a Nick Lucas branded archtop from the late 1920's-early 1930's that was made by Regal (or possibly with some help from Lyon & Healy) of Chicago. The Nick Lucas Special flat top guitars made by Gibson in this era are certainly highly sought after and well documented pieces but very little is recorded or known about this archtop model before you. This guitar is an important missing link in the history of very influential artist in his day who was also a master at promoting himself and his technique 90 years before anyone picked up a Guitar Hero game to smash buttons along to a Green Day song. He was at the top of his game in 1929 when 'Tiptoe through the Tulips' was a hit and this guitar must represent that period when he was seeing a meteoric rise in his popularity that landed him in hit films galore. He was offering guitar courses, Hawaiian slide guitar courses, mandolin and uke courses, signature model instruments, and even picks with his name on them before anyone else could even claim these things. He is quite an interesting man and I encourage you to check out the links I have posted below to get an idea of his brilliance playing and as a salesman. Thankfully, this guitar came to me with its original Nick Lucas guitar lesson book and its original woven strap as you can see. Both are amazing artifacts to have with this piece and add a certain collector level interest to this piece.

    It is a higher end offering from a Chicago brand for sure. My gut tells me this was made by Regal, but it is possible the body or some part of the guitar may have come from the Lyon & Healy (who made Washburn) factory as many of these companies collaborated in a very incestuous way unlike anyone does today. Possibly the body was Lyon & Healy. Or possibly the binding just came from them. The thick hand inlaid purfling with the rope boarders on the top is more in line with what you might find coming out as a Washburn in the 1920's on a parlor guitar and so it is very, very unusual to see on an archtop like this. But the segmented F hole and headstock shape is very much what Regal was doing at this time. This is also from a time that Regal made some archtop with some of the biggest necks around (which this has!) and that makes me think Regal. Whatever the case, the guitar with all solid lightly flamed mahogany , a thick ebony slab fingerboard, and original Grover made tuners like a higher end Gibson or Martin (like this '40 000-18) might have in had this period. These tuners are worth a chunk of change by themselves, and I must admit I was temped to pull them off for the serious money they bring. But I had to keep this original! It is so rare! This guitar even still has its original Art Deco stylized 'firestripe' tortoise shell pickguard and headstock veneer and it is framed in that fancy binding and purfling unlike any archtop I have seen. It even has some of the thickest real abalone white pearl inlays that are some of the best I have ever seen. They are about 1/4" thick! And have some amazing rainbow/3-D quality to them that I have never seen on anything I can think of. It is amazing to check them out in person. It is without a doubt one of the highest end models of Chicago made archtop I have owned, and it has been completely restored back to amazing playing condition with tons of work lovingly done by an experienced luthier. Regal is well known for their connection to Dobro, but their reach extends far beyond this sphere into models like this that were certainly of a professional grade. Their pre-War acoustic guitars offer a very high build quality and tone sure to rival any Gibson from the era. I know they did a lot of things to follow Gibson's lead in this post-parlor guitar era, including picking up the manufacturing of the high end Recording King models after Gibson parted ways with Montgomery Wards. You can click here for a high example of this work at this time to see what I mean about this. They are a company I love and I will have quite a few high end Regal made instruments up for sale this week, so please check my listings to find more on them.

    These higher end pre-WWII Chicago made (Harmony, Regal, and Kay) archtops are only now starting to be appreciated in the vintage market. I have owned and played many pre-War Gibson archtop guitars, but I think all too often people view them as they only game in town. Not so! But I think that another part of what has kept modern players and collectors away from these underdog Chicago made guitars is also the fact that they almost all need neck resets. This is due to the weaker formulation of hide glue they used and over the years the neck joints simply pulled free. This is also why you will almost never see me sell a guitar that I have not had a neck reset done to. Because doing this major repair unlocks the amazing potential of these well made classics. Without it they are simply wall hangers. Do not find yourself falling into wishful thinking about a guitar's performance when dealers and sellers say it plays fine without one. Hogwash. But they deserve to live and breathe again. So I do this repair with a team of different repair people working for me and it is often at great time and expense. But it is worth it. They are incredibly well hand made instruments, with exceedingly high quality pre-Machine Age wood selections you simply cannot find without inventing a time machine. And the fact that these are getting more and more money on the vintage market is only a reflection of this fact. And playing one like this will make you a believer too!

    This was a guitar came to me after having been completely restored by a luthier I know who works out of a great vintage shop in the Midwest. I was told it came in from the original owners family who had passed on and they unfortunately tossed out the case before bringing it in ("Who would want that old tattered thing!?") but still had the lesson book and strap. It had clearly been played and enjoyed for a good long time before its neck set and fret wear had made the guitar nearly unplayable. Luckily it landed with this luthier, because he knew that it could be saved. First he steamed off the neck and reset the neck at the proper angle. He did a great job with this, but he wasn't through yet. Next he did pulled all the worn out frets and leveled off the fingerboard to make sure there was no hump at the bottom of the neck, then replaced them with a size similar to what was on there originally, but with a little more height to them to get some more life out of the guitar. Then he leveled and dressed the frets to get it to play perfectly all the way up. Finally he did a full setup to the guitar that included tweaking the nut and action so that it plays amazingly well! This work was all very well done and took this from the graveyard to a professional level instrument. It should have by all rights added up to a $700 repair bill from most shops. I was lucky enough to have done a lot of business with these folks, so they treated me right on it. And so I am happy to offer it up to you today.

    And it does play amazingly well. I cannot believe the end result of all of that work. It has very even low action all the way up the neck to the body and frets well without a dead spot or bad fret to speak of. It has very flat action that is a medium lower height and certainly has enough height on the bridge and nut height to go loads lower if someone wanted. But right now it is simply a cannon with the setup as it is. It is so loud. It is a dream for me to fret and I love playing it. I have a photo showing the string height at the 12th fret below if you want to see for yourself the action.

    One of the most important things to mention is that the mahogany neck is absolutely HUGE! Gigantic. Massive. Semi-tractor trailer coming down the mountain. Cut right off of the old oak tree. For real. It is so large and beefy in a rounded C shape with a little V crown to it in the first five frets, I guess. I cannot remember one I have owned like this in a while. Or ever. It reminds of a titanic Banner Head J-45 I used to own...but bigger! Check the photos below for some of the nut width . It is not for the weak kneed. This is a serious neck for someone who likes 'em big! I love it. Not for small hands, folks. It is like someone shot steriods into a late 50's Les Paul Jr. and then made it do 1000 situps. It is a seriously burly hand hole like someone cut a log in half. I love it! The neck is very straight as you'd expect on a thick ebony board one like this which is straight and true after the fingerboard leveling. A neck this big CERTAINLY adds a lot to the sound, volume, and sustain. Without a doubt.

    I love the wood selection and appointments on this piece! The top, sides, and back it has is a stunning solid single piece of lightly flamed old growth mahogany. Check out some of the photos to see what I mean. I love the way it looks. It is not that super ridiculous flame some of the high buck Martin Custom Shop guitars might have, but a little bit of nice tasteful in a few places, which is nice. You can see more of it on the back. Take a look at the photos, especially those with the flash. The finish is a nice natural thick gloss that still has a lovely luster to it. It is such a great look overall! It is bound with that lovely original real wooden purfling and deluxe binding you see. Check out the detail photos to see the amazing hand inlaid work that went into these bindings. Wow! The body is a L-5 sized 15 3/4" with a waist of 9.5" and a depth of 3.5". It has a scale of about 25.5" that makes it a little longer than some archtops for a tighter tension and attack.

    Condition wise it has been well played and enjoyed throughout its life, but not abused. It has some wear in places. A few scratches, some spots like the back near the heel that have wear from over the years. But for this to have been a guitar that had its frets almost worn down to nothing (think of the thousands of hours that would take!) and yet still be in such amazing shape speaks to the original owners love and affection for it. It still sparkles. Check out the photos to see what I mean. They will point you in the right direction and say more than I ever could. I love the look and shine of the original nitro sunburst it has. The tailpiece and pickguard bracket has some slight corrosion, but nothing unusual on an 80+ year old guitar. The original Grover made tuners are in good shape and are the style common on many high end Gibson and Martins in the 1920's and 1930's. The buttons have some slight corrosion of the nickel plating so you can see the brass beneath, but still work great. The gears tune smoothly and comfortably. The shafts are very straight! On many older guitars their performance would be improved with a newer set of tuners, but not on this one. It performs as good as it sounds! It has its original ebony (or ebonized maple) floating bridge as you see. The original bone nut has some slight chips to it as you can see, but they are strictly cosmetic and do not affect function. The F holes have a slight bit of deformation to them as you'd expect on a solid topped guitar, but nothing worth mentioning. Almost every birch or mahogany topped archtop I have owned has some bit of this I have noticed. The firestripe celluloid pickguard looks great, as does the headstock and neck heel veneer. The neck reset is somewhat visible back at this area (see the photos) but that might be from the material itself shrinking over the years, too. All in all, this is a very nice piece for someone and is in amazing original condition.

    And yes! This has all the elements for me that a similar high end Gibson of the day would. It has a very 1920's Gibson style tone that is woody and round with a lot of bottom end and overall sustain and evenness. All those good things and maybe something a little more. It has LOADS OF VOLUME and lots of dynamic range that results from a guitar that has the right balance of bracing, top thickness, and professional build quality. It has oodles of bark when you need it, and is easily louder than 90% of the archtops I come arcoss. It really has a lot of top end when you want to bring it out by picking by the bridge, but a smooth mellowness as a fingerstyle instrument as well. What more could you want? It would be great for doing an old school Americana sort of vibe, a vintage Jazz sound or fantastic Gypsy Jazz animal, a retro Roots or even Bluesy Jazz thing, or some classic Piedmont Blues, or Alt Country or Folk, more modern Indie Rock or even nasty proto-Rockabilly stuff. Heck it would even be great for a modern acoustic instrumental thing! It adds a nice flavor in the studio that is hard to deny....Listen for yourself!

    Well, here is some audio of me playing it with a medium pick from about three feet away...

    <bgsound src="">

    Here are some more sound files to click on and hear streaming audio, it was fun recording these...

    ...a few simple open chords with a lovely sound...

    ...a quick scale run...

    ...bare fingers in a minor key then a pick to capture the range of sounds...

    ...some solo jazz playing with a 30's vibe...

    ...some bright picking by the bridge then over the neck...

    ...agile minor key picking..

    ...bright and chimey Alt Country chords...

    ...picking in a few different fashions with a great tone!...

    ...nice swing era rhythm chording...

    ...beefy 30's blues fingerstyle...

    ...more swing era chording with a tight attack...

    ...some jazz with a gypsy flavor...

    ...lingering loose soloing with a laid back feel...

    ...more awesome old school tone...

    ...a great dark tone when you want it...

    ...some bluesy jazz soloing...

    And just for your amusement and general info, here are a few links to check out:

    ...a little background on the man and his Gibson made model from Vintage Guitar magazine...

    ...a clip of Nick Lucas on the silver screen from 1929 playing his big hit...

    ...a little history and bio of Nick...or should I say Dominic...

    ...a 1926 Gibson Nick Lucas going for some big bucks...

    This vintage Nick Lucas guitar does come with the original Nick Lucas Lesson Book and original woven guitar strap you see in the photos. The lesson book dates to 1930 or so, and has dozens of lessons and photos in its 64 pages of tightly packed info. There are loads even an accomplished player could learn from these pages within, and it even has some notes penciled in (and dated in the early 1930's) from the original owner showing its age. It is a cool find to have this all together for sure. No case is included with this but be sure that I will pack it well and make sure it arrives in one piece. I also have some new and vintage archtop cases available, so please inquire after the auction ends if you are interested. ALSO: I am starting it at only $.99 with no reserve!!

    This guitar is not warrantied in any way due to its condition and age. Bidders be warned. Auction is as is, no returns whatsoever. UPS Ground or Expedited US Postal Service in the USA. I prefer a certified cashiers check from bidders in the US, but take I Paypal as well. Paypal only on international bidders, please email me for your shipping rates oustide the 48 contiental 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. I hope this goes to a happy home! Please do not bid unless you have the money to buy it and plan on following through with your bid. Don't blame me if you grow warts on your face when you don't pay. Its the spirirts' will, not mine. I know this is not of the majority, so thanks for bearing with me. 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! I am going to be doing some remodeling this week in my home, so there may be a day or two in there that my internet connection is down, but never fear...I will answer your questions as fast as I can. 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 guitar! Thanks!


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