A Detailed Review of the Regal RC-51 Tricone Resonator Guitar

Having been created by the Southern California born Dopyera brothers, the Tricone defined an era spanning the jazz bands of the 1920s and extending into the 1930s with the Hawaiian craze and creating the signature sounds of greats such as Tampa Red and Peetie Wheatstraw.

The RC-51 is a Chinese crafted, half replica of the National Style 1 Tricones and the features of this resonator model are nickel-plated brass hardware and a slim mahogany neck with an adjustable truss rod, a bone nut that is 1-3/4 inches wide and comes with Schaller ST6 tuners. Its finish is mirror chrome which gives it that element of visual showmanship that is perfect for impressing yourself or whomever you play for.

Just like those 1930’s Nationals, the RC-51 also features a flat fingerboard and whilst this may take some getting used too, it is perfect for playing slide and being able to cleanly fret as many strings as needed.

The RC-51 Tricone may not be a National, and it might need a little tinkering in the beginning to find that perfect blues sound that you are after, but the effort is worth it, combined with the relatively low-end price tag, the RC-51 delivers that desired mixture of value and quality.

As the name suggests, the main feature of this guitar is those tricones, and whilst the stock cones are of fine quality you may want to consider investing in some National or Quarterman replacement cones if you’re looking for that next level quality of sound that the resonators can produce. Whilst the stock sound is as full and loud as you’d expect, you can improve the tone, dynamics as well as the sustain just by putting on a heavier set of strings that are to your liking. If you’re not getting the sound that you desire, open the guitar up and check for masking tape under the cones, as this will affect the sound quality that you project if not removed.

A small percentage of people who purchased these Regal Tricones have complaints about some of the craftsmanship and overall quality of their guitars build, in particular the neck being warped upon opening and needing a truss-rod replacement straight away. Another common gripe amongst 51 owners is some of the buzz that it generates, but buzz problems can be amended with some minor, but careful adjustments if you’re prepared for such circumstances of know of someone who can fix these issues. Despite this, the overwhelming majority are happy and satisfied with their purchase if none of the aforementioned issues are encountered.

If you are pining for those vintage or even modern National resophonic guitars but don’t fancy robbing a bank or re-mortgaging the house, then the Regal RC-51 Tricone is a fantastic alternative that will likely have you just as content.


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