3/29/2011

c.1925 Oscar Schmidt Tiple


While I see mostly Regal and Harmony made tiples wandering the vintage market, followed closely by higher-end Martin-made instruments, tiples like this one with its delicious solid headstock, are much rarer and were made by Oscar Schmidt out of New Jersey in the 1920s (and 30s, maybe?). This one has a rosewood fretboard and bridge, birch back/sides/neck, and a spruce top, ladder braced with a fairly large "bridge plate."

This instrument was kind of a pain to finish up work on... the neck angle is pretty low due to the geometry of the top/body changing (though the neck joint itself is entirely solid and in good order)... and the bridge had been shaved somewhat, but to get the action right, I had to remove the remains of the cracked-through string-loading section of the bridge (these usually mount through holes in the back of the bridge block like a classical guitar).

Instead, I've cut the bridge all down and drilled holes for a pin-bridge setup, which looks pretty darn cool. In addition, the instrument got a new bone nut and saddle, fresh fret dress, and also a glue-up of the only crack (a 1.5" hairline on the back, tight) and some brace regluing to the mid and under-fretboard braces.

It plays comfortably now, with rather light-gauge strings setup for GCEA (modern) tuning. I wouldn't tune up to ADF#B unless I went a step lighter, as that higher tuning seems to be the usual reason that these instruments go into a collapsing-top fate.


The body shape on these Oscars is very cute -- with a slightly smaller-than-usual upper bout which gives it a nice look.


Rosewood headstock veneer, too. I oiled up the tuners and they work pretty well, hold nicely.


Tiny pearl dots in the board. When I got this instrument, the board was covered over to the 12th fret with note-indicator glued-on papers, typical for learners from the time. This was hell to remove as the glue remains even after you've scraped all the remains of the paper/stickers off. Thankfully, it came out alright in the end, and looks much more professional and happier now!


My wonky pin-bridge layout. Kinda cute!


I like the simple appointments -- binding top and back, 2-ply purfling on the top and around the soundhole, and a simple ring rosette. It's all very "Martin-ish."



Gotta love the 5-on-a-plate tuners!








Some previous tailpiece-setup holes. That lower one would make a great lead for a strap button install.

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