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Regal Octofone , c. 1928
Regal Octofone, c. 1928, made in Chicago, natural top, dark stained back and sides finish, birch body, spruce top.
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 seems to be 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 actually the lower of two Octofone models Regal offered in the late 1920's, 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. Trapeze tailpiece is stamped "Bell Brand, Patented, N.M.S. Co.", who are better remembered as the original makers of Black Diamond Strings. Small squared-off movable bridge with bone saddle. 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".
Obviously Regal was proud of their creation and sternly warned off competitors! The oval soundhole label reads "The Mark of Better Instruments, Made by the Regal Musical Instrument Co., Chicago." with a crown logo.
Handwritten on inside of the back is "Prof. Cutaneo 1925 - Caserta, Italy", which is somewhat inexplicable as the date seems to lie before the commercial introduction of the instrument in the US, let alone Italy - perhaps this is a very early example, or it could just be another case of strange notations inside old instruments!
The instrument is currently strung as a tenor with the two lower strings as octaves and has a surprisingly loud, bright sound.
Overall length is 33 1/2 in. (85.1 cm.), 10 5/8 in. (27 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 1/8 in. (7.9 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 21 3/8 in. (533 mm.).
Recently restored with a new neck set, all original fittings and hardware. Finish original with some pickwear, buffed out slightly. No case. Excellent Condition.
Item # 656
This item has been sold.
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