Circa 1939 Regal Le Domino Big Boy
Regal’s first couple of decades were quite chaotic. The company was founded in 1895 in Indianapolis by Emil Wulschner to make banjos, mandolins and guitars. The company did fairly well at first but when Wulschner died in 1900 it began to decline and in early 1904 Regal went out of business. Later that year, the trademarks, tools, materials and remaining stock were purchased by Lyon & Healy in Chicago. In 1908 Lyon and Healy decided to focus on making concert harps and pianos and they spun Regal off as a separate company. In 1911 Regal finally settled into its own factory building and quickly grew into one of the largest builders of budget and medium priced fretted instruments in the US. By the 1930s they were making thousands of instruments under their own name as well as countless instruments under names like Concertone, Oahu, Recording King, B&D, Bluebird, Varsity and Artex as well as many others.
Today’s Catch is a Le Domino Big Boy, a model Regal started making in the early 1930s. The Le Domino line of instruments, which consisted of ukes, banjos and guitars, was originally made by J.A. Stewart, a now obscure builder that went of business in the late 1920s. When Regal took over the Le Domino brand they added the Big Boy to the line. The Big Boy was very likely inspired by Martin’s early archtops which also had round soundholes and flat backs. Regal made these guitars with solid spruce tops, birch backs and maple fretboards that were dyed black. They were also decorated them with domino decals, which looked great on the top but didn’t really hold up too well on the fretboard. I’ve played quite a few of these over the years and I really like the way they sound. Like other roundhole archtops, they have a sweeter mellower tone with perhaps a little less volume than a guitar with f-holes. This particular example looks to be in good condition and it still has its original pickguard, a feature that almost never seems to survive intact. If you’d like to add this Le Domino to your game room, just send $1750 to the good people at Player’s Vintage instruments and they will be happy to help you out.