Review of the REGAL RC-2

As a guitar and music history teacher with 23 years of experience, it never seizes to amaze me how many younger or beginner players consider the aesthetics of a guitar as one of the major deciding factors (besides the price of course), and pay little to no attention to the acoustic characteristics, the craftsmanship and what value they would expect from their investment.

It seems like “looking cool” is more important than having an instrument that improves your performance or that will give you more years of playability.

With resonators, having a typically more mature demographic, this seems to be less of a common occurrence. This is why it surprises me that chrome plated guitars, besides being impractical to keep presentable, still have people buying them. I decided to see what the fuss is all about and borrowed a Regal RC-2 from a store in town for a week, since technically it is an “update” of the Duolian first introduced in the 1930s. At that time it was a big favorite with some Blues legends like Tampa Red and Son House, since it offered volume and projection. It seems that Regal shouldn´t have fixed something that wasn´t broken.

First thing I noticed was the weight, quite a difference between the steel body and the wooden guitars. I wasn´t very surprised to find that the neck looked like it was glued on very cheaply. It was also braced by what appeared to be very cheap wood. I can´t be too sure, but the nut seemed to be made of plastic instead of the typical bone (this is standard even on some cheaper guitars). I also noticed the biscuit was touching the opening – this has a very bad effect on tone and volume. The fretboard also felt rougher to me than those of other resonators I´ve played. I really wasn´t happy with the tuners either and I got the feeling that they wouldn´t last too long. If you manage to get a good deal on this guitar, you might want to invest in a good set of Waverlys. Also, the strings that come with the guitar are extremely light, you might want to get heavier ones right from the get-go.

The action was setup quite high, probably for players who play slide. This is not a big deal though – its quite easy to lower the action if you want. To be honest, I can´t say that any of the resonators I´ve played had a fantastic action, but usually it makes up for it in loudness and tone. If you were to modify the biscuit on this guitar, you would probably end up with a very respectable volume level and a rich, warmer tone.

After 10 minutes of handling this guitar, there were finger marks all over the chrome.  If you are going to wipe off marks on a daily basis, the finish on this guitar won’t last very long. Oh, and invest in a decent felt-lined case to keep it protected while you´re on the move.

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