6/21/2012

c.1915 Oscar Schmidt Flatback Mandolin




This mandolin, though bearing no label, was made by Oscar Schmidt in Jersey City, NJ. It's very typical for their line of mandolins and I've seen this same model with their in-house "Sovereign" brand as well as the mailorder-labeled "Victoria" brand, among others.

It was in pretty good shape when it arrived -- structurally all sound -- though I did need to do a cleaning, fret level/dress, tuner lube, and setup. It now plays excellently with 1/16" action at the 12th and has a punchy, clear, and full voice. Flattops like these tend to get overly warm and sweet but these Schmidts tend to keep a lot of clarity and cut compared to other makes.

The slightly-longer-than-normal (for a flatback) 13 1/4" scale gives this slightly more room as well.


Woods are solid spruce for the top and solid birch for the back, sides, and neck. The fretboard appears to be mid-grade rosewood, as well. The nut is bone and the bridge is ebony.


Very typical, almost "shield" shaped headstock, for OS.


Pearl dots in the board.

Did I mention that the instrument is entirely crack free? That's a pretty mean feat for an old gal like this.


I love the inset faux-tortoise celluloid pickguard. The shape is so cool.


Here's a bit of leather I added at the tailpiece to mute the extra string length.


The rosette is nice and simple but elegant, as well.


While the finish is in fairly decent shape on the back and front and neck, the sides have finish chipped away all over. This looks good to me -- I like to see a well-used instrument.


The top edge is bound.




Check out the faux-rosewood painted grain on the back. Pretty cute! The mid-strip is actually inlaid, however.


Tuners, after lube, work just fine -- but like all older mandolin gears, sometimes need to be tuned down and then back up to get just the right pitch.


Good solid heel join. I really respect the sturdy construction most OS products from this time have. They feel like they're built to last.


Tailpiece, missing cover.

2 comments:

DHeal said...

I have a similar instrument to this, also old. Flat back, with a Stella paper sticker inside and an Italianate decal on the back. Can you suggest where I might get more information about the instrument? Thanks. D.Heal

Antebellum Instruments said...

...send pictures in an email to: jake[at]thewildwoodflower.com where the [at] is @