10/24/2010

c.1920 Oscar Schmidt "Stella" Flatback Mandolin


Yep -- another one of these old Oscar Schmidt-made "Stella" branded flatback mandos. Solid mahogany back, sides, and neck, rosewood fretboard with pearl dots, sold spruce (canted) top, rosewood headstock veneer, all-original except for a (new) bone bridge I made to fit, as the original rosewood/bone one was wonky as they often are. If you search back in my blog posts you can find several more-or-less identical instruments to this one, with slightly different features (this one, unlike the others, has some nice closed-back recessed tuners with full covers).


Work included fret dress, setup, and new bone bridge. Check out that cool inlaid "tortoise" pickguard. The finish has bubbled and distressed all over this instrument but aside from that and general playwear it's in pretty darn good shape. A few old crack repairs to the sides, but no cracks on the top or back.



Original bone nut -- bakelite-buttoned pegs.



Thankfully still has its tailpiece cover.



As expected, tone is fabulous -- deep, warm, woody, and sweet -- and it has tremendous volume for a flatback. Excellent sustain, too. I know I talk these old Stellas up... but the ones of this type from this era really do deliver. Someday I'll hold onto one myself... someday... (I have too many instruments!!!).


Neck join and neck are in perfect order... action is super-smooth and easy.




Cool inlaid backstrip.





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