12/09/2011

c.1925 Oscar Schmidt "Bruno Wizard" Tiple





I posted this exact same instrument a couple years ago. I sold it then but now it's returned to me in trade from the owner (a buddy of mine) who just hadn't gotten used to it. Since "leaving the nest" the old (original) glue at the neck joint finally gave out at some point, so the action had crept higher.

So -- I just gave this fella a fresh neck reset, glued a 2nd thinner brace just below the soundhole (more like banding) to reinforce that area (as this only has one brace on the lower bout) and also reglued the above-soundhole brace (as the loose neck had loosened it) and installed a thin plate under the fretboard extension area to reinforce that area as well. These are all locations I'm familiar with having to address on tiples that come in, so I figured I'd get it all done in one go (and correct some minor top deformation while at it).


Overall, the instrument feels generally more stable than previously. A lot of tiples were somewhat underbuilt when they were first made, and due to the ladder-brace build, end up having less stable tops. I think adding extra support below the fretboard extension really stiffened the box up there and now the instrument feels a bit more free to simply make music. It's not fighting itself.

Since this morning (when I finished it up), it's been getting some smiles from folks pulling it off the rack.


Note the nice, simple purfling and rosette style. Definite nods to Martin styling, despite the tendency for OS instruments to look very much "their own thing." These OS-made tiples (you can tell by the bracing, bridge shape, body shape, neck profile and nut width, especially the solid headstock on a '20s tiple, etc.) tend to have a warm and mellow sound and aren't as loud as Regals, Harmony, or Martin makes but have a sweetness and chordal lush "meld" that those instruments lose in some of their more ringing tonality.


Original bridge is still holding up, though it shows wear at the ball-end slots on the rear. The saddle is a replacement of some synthetic (Tusq?) I had around the last time I worked on it.


Note the cool "Wizard" logo at the headstock.


Rosewood board, small dots (pearl) -- another nod to Martin styling.





The back has some (long repaired/filled) hairline cracks and some binding that is slightly protruded at the waist. Ah, and woods: top is solid spruce, back/sides/neck are solid birch, and the board is rosewood. I'm not sure what the bridge is, but it's hardwood of some sort. The other one of these OS-built tiples I worked on had rosewood.


For good measure, I lubed the tuners and the work great. I also replaced all the screws on the mounting plates with vintage spares as they weren't holding too well.


It's a nice little instrument -- great for recording or serenading your love. I tend to think of the tone of these as reminiscent of true Renaissance citterns (of the 4 or 5 course wire-strung variety) -- octaved and mellow and mostly used for chordal accompaniment, though this can also kick up some dust when flatpicked, too.

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