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rare circa '58 Harmony made Regal R251 archtop guitar
This is an auction for a rare early example of a 1958 Harmony made Regal R251 'Grand Auditorium' model archtop. This was a top of the line non-cutaway archtop guitar they made in the late 50's, and this is fully restored and very cosmetically clean example of one perfect for someone looking for a nice affordable higher end American made vintage archtop with an amazing look. It is the perfect guitar for a Harmony collector or for someone looking for a classy piece to put a pickup on and amplify for live performance. It is ready to hit the ground running as it has had a full restoration including a neck reset. This auction includes the original soft shell case this was sold with when it was new, and it is also in very clean cosmetic shape. It is quite a find!
Harmony produced this for sale under the Regal name they had been making guitars since the early 50's that had been sold through Fender, who owned the rights to the Regal name. But it seems once Fender had their own flat tops up and running in the mid 60's, these unusual Regal branded guitars disappeared forever. And they are pretty rare to begin with. This is first Regal 'R251' model I have ever seen in person, and I knew what I saw it I had to have it. I know they are quite scarce in general, but you can click here to see the photos of another here and on this great Harmony website. This one has an internal date stamp that would place it in 1958 (F-58-T stamped as you can see it in the photos below).
The Regal 'R251' is a top of the line archtop even by other manufactures standards in the 50's and 60's. It is basically a reappointed higher end variation of the 'Monterey' H1427 model archtop guitar of the time but it is different in a couple of cosmetic ways. First, the wood selection on this guitar is out of this world! The top has one of the most 'bearclaw' figured pieces of spruce I have ever seen on an archtop. And, the back and sides have a lovely quilted maple, while the neck has a gentle tight flame. The fingerboard and bridge are ebony, as well. Top notch all the way! The finish on this model is top notch also with a very high gloss nitro lacquer job that is far beyond what anyone would expect from a Harmony. Secondly, it has very high quality hardware and trim appointments including a Kluson tailpiece and tuners, a chunky ebony bridge, lovely multiply pickguard and matching engraved headstock, and tons of binding and trim. It is the top of the heap of Harmony guitars! Most folks would notice the gorgeous 'stinger' style black headstock paint that tapers into the neck (just like a high end Gibson) right away. Man, when I saw that I was sold! In fact, at the guitar show I bought this one at when I took it off of the stand and spun it around once, guys walking by stopped to stare at it. It was like I was dangling keys in front of a baby. But the look with the blonde finish is really undeniably cool.
I really cannot say enough good things about its performance and tone. Wow! It is a real head turner. And after all the work that has been put into it, it practically plays itself. And is one of the best sounding Harmony's I have had in recent memory. The sound clips below do not lie, give them a listen and you will see what I mean. I have really been on the fence with this one, as I love the sound of maple archtops, and this one has a certain something that is hard to deny. I would need an airplane hanger or something, I guess. And I am sure I would fill it if I could. But I will miss this one. I really hope this goes to a good home. It is a great instrument sure to provide several decades of solid use without worry.
This one came to me from a guitar show recently. I was very excited to land it as it is one of the few Harmony made guitars I have not owned before. When I got it it was very clear it need a neck reset and some attention, as the neck gap was so large you could almost see into the dovetail. I was not worried, though. All the old guitars with hide glue neck joints will need this at some point or other. SO why not be the guy who does it right, huh? So I got it to one of my repair people right away. He got the neck off and had it reset in no time. The reset was done with traditional hide glue, so there is no worry about having to fight your way through epoxy in 40 years if it needs one again. The job he did was pro, and the neck angle and setup he put on it is the perfect marriage of maximum performance and maximum tone. There is one small surface chip on the bass side of the neck and back by the heel cap (see the photos) that were there when I got the guitar and happened from the neck pulling away, and he did a great job gluing those up nicely with hide glue to get them to be almost undetectable. There is also a small chip in the binding that he filled in with a vintage piece of binding he had from a vintage Gibson archtop. Pretty crazy, huh? It is a tiny chip, but you can see it in the photos. I dunno how he filled it in like he did. He really did a great job! He even lowered the height of the fingerboard extension so that it would take the new angle and fret well all the way up. Wow! Once the neck was back on he dressed the frets up higher on the neck for even smooth action all the way. Pretty cool. There is nice low action on it as it is now, and plenty of height on the bridge for the action to go up or down. He put a great setup on it, and adjusted the truss rod so that it has just a little bit of bow like it should to it. The guitar frets very nicely all the way up the neck without issue that I could find, but like any guitar on Earth, the lower strings way high up the neck (where the body joins the neck and above) do buzz slightly as you'd expect from having lower action. I think this is no surprise. It does not have a dead spot to speak of that I ran into, but is easy to fret all the way up the neck. The action is lower than most, and feels great to play. It could go lower, too! It is effortless to play now though. To say the least. I took a photo of the string height on the low E at the 12th fret to demonstrate this for your own eyes to see. Check the photos. Also in there is a shot of the nut width, which is large like most 30's guitars are. The neck on this is very comfortable, with a flat wide even profile like a higher end Gibson would have had in the early 60's. It is what I would call 'a crowd pleaser' of a neck.
Back to the wood on this baby for a second. The wood selection on this one is mind blowing. The best a Harmony can get. Period. I know the whole world of acoustic fanatics freak out for vintage pieces with bearclaw spruce tops like this one has. And for good reason, they usually sound better! I used to be a skeptic, but no longer. I have owned enough to know that there is a grain of truth to the mania. And this one has bearclaw figuring in spades. That with the lovely solid maple back and sides that have nice regular rippling soft quilt is hard to believe. The quality of that one piece back is phenomenal and is consistent in grain all through. Quite a piece of wood! It is very light reactive and yet not overly ridiculous (like some Gibson Historics can get) in its appearance. The back and top are all crack free without any spots like that I can see. There is one area on the lower part of the back that is flatter, but I am not sure if this is the way this body was designed (kinda more like a Gibson) or if it has flattened out over time. Anyways, check the photos. Seems like even if it has flattened out, it would only be cosmetic and not structural. The neck is very straight. It is maple as well and has a nice straight grain to it with some tight soft flames. The fingerboard is lighter ebony with large abalone pearl blocks. They are quite lovely, too! The whole guitar is in great shape, which you can see in the photos. All in all, it is a real stunner in person. The photos probably do not do justice, but it is one of the best looking Harmony's I have ever owned. Which says a lot, as I have owned hundreds.
I was really blown away by the tone on this guitar the first time I picked it up. I have had a lot of Harmony guitars (hundreds at this point!), but this one had a real Gibson style jazz tone with a certain refined quality I have not seen in many Harmony guitars from this time. It has plenty of acoustic volume and authority, but it also sounds great for mellow and subtle playing. It has a really wide range that makes it easy to lay back on and still have the notes come forward. But it can bark, too! Oh, man can it! I love the sound of the maple back and sides, they have a really big tone that can be bright or mellow in a moments notice depending on how you pick. It has a round and robust tone that is great as a solo instrument, but also more of a cannon like punch for lead playing as you can hear. It is very snappy and bright when you pick down by the bridge, too. Perfect for a Swing or Gypsy Jazz tone in this way. The sustain is pretty unreal, as you can hear in the soundclips below. Its fingerstyle tone is surprisingly loud and vocal, too. It is a versatile instrument which is a great match to the sort of action and performance it has. That means that you are not fighting the guitar when you are playing it, your playing just flows out like it should and it is sounding great as you do! It is strung with a set of light gauge phosphor bronze strings that really goose a lot of low end and volume out of the guitar. It is a loud one! I know this will make the next owner very happy to have it in their collection. It is a voice perfect for recording, performing, or just sitting around picking out a few tunes with friends.
Harmony guitars! Yes, they are hot these days, but I have been on the bandwagon for a long time. Since my first guitar, I guess! Way back when. But, even with all their hype they are one of the least understood American guitar companies. I really love this stuff, which is why I focus on these guitars instead of something else. I have made it my mission to help people get informed about the underdog American makers out there. There are a lot of great resources out there to check out. Get informed. Click here for one of my all time favorite Harmony sites because it is worth at least a few minutes of your time to look over if you haven't and look at all of the wonderfully well document guitars, catalogs, and information there.
Well, here is some audio of me playing it with a medium pick from about three feet away...
Here are some more sound files to click on and hear streaming audio, it was fun recording these...
...big juicy single 50's rhythm and soloin'...
...a quick scale run...
...some laid back bluesy jazz...
...some Depression era swing playing...
...a little fingerstyle playing that goes bluesy at the end...
...huge sounding open chords!...
...more bluesy jazz riffage...
...some nice Alt Country chords..
...bright and chimey Americana single notes...
...a bit more downtempo jazz soloing...
...minor key bombastic playing...
...finally some lovely sounds in an open tuning...
This vintage Regal is quite a find and is sure to light up the eyes of any Harmony collector or archtop guitar fan. It did for me! If I had any more room in my Harmony collection I would hold onto it, but I simply need to move it along to raise some cash for a much needed household project. And to make some room! So, off this one goes with a tear! And more to come. It includes its original red lined case pictured in the photos. It is in good shape, with all the latches, handles, and hinges fully functional and ready to go. It helps to have in shipping, too, but I will make sure it travels safely to you door whether that is in Indiana, Iceland, or Australia. I like to ship abroad and I do it alot. Europe? Canada? 'Down Under'? No problem! Check my feedback and see that I speak the truth. Thanks for reading and good luck bidding!
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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