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  Project File:
Silvertone Regal
click images to enlarge
  Here we have a cool old Silvertone Regal. I'm not sure what the year is, but I would guess mid to late 1950's.
The serial # is B8987 if any of you Silvertone aficionados want to fill me in.

It's a nice guitar. It features a spruce top, maple back and sides, maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, mother of pearl and abalone inlays, and the coolest headstock face plate of all time. It's true hollowbody and very large-bodied. Sounds great when just played acoustically.

The customer wanted to sell it but needed it fixed up a little first. The buttons on the original tuners had crumbled completely away, the frets were totally worn out and it was pretty scratched up. We decided to replace the tuners and non-original volume and tone knobs, replace the output jack, refret it and do some finish work on the top. Pretty much a full overhaul.

  Pickguard template

1. So first, I removed all the old frets. Then I checked the neck to see how level it was. This guitar does not have an adjustable truss rod, so if it needed any bow in the neck I would have to engineer it in the fretboard. As it turned out, it had just the righ amount of relief so I didn't need to engineer any. The fretboard did have a good amount of play wear and needed to be sanded smooth and level. Sanding really made the inlays come to life.

  Pickup cavities and wire channel routed

2. Next I had to cut the new frets. This neck is bound so I had to cut the tangs to fit in between the binding. That's why it cost more to refret a bound neck. It takes more time and effort. You can see in the picture to the right a fret cut and ready to be hammered in.

  Pickguard cut

3. I cut my frets so that some of the crown overlaps the binding. Some people cut their frets to stop at the binding, so that the crown does not overlap. I can do this on request but it is not my normal way. It takes more precision and therefore more time. And you lose a little bit of playing surface which may be an issue if you bend a lot.


4. After fretting the guitar I turned my attention to the top. It was badly scarred with a few deep gashes and many not-so-deep scratches. Also, there was some white gunk in almost every crevice. You can see it in the picture to the right. I think maybe someone had tried to buff the guitar at one time without sanding the finish down and the buffing compound was pushed into every crevice and scratch. Or maybe it was a polish that someone applied to it. Whatever it was it was ugly.


5. Since I wasn't going to refinish the entire guitar, my goal was not to make the top look brand new. I wanted to get rid of the white gunk and make it look clean but at the same time fit in with the rest of the guitar. Also, two of the gashes were too deep to sand all the way out so it wasn't going to look brand new even if I wanted it to.

I sanded the finish off and gave it a few thin coats of clear lacquer. I didn't want to put a thick finish on it for two reasons: First, I didn't want to hamper the tone of the top, and secondly, the thin coat would wear quicker and match the rest of the guitar. I let it dry thoroughly and then sanded and buffed to a dull finish. I didn't want it to be too shiny. I wanted it to look old but clean. And I think I achieved it.



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