1/13/2013

c.1925 Oscar Schmidt "Sovereign" Koa Parlor Guitar


The owner of this guitar probably knows just how rare and valuable this old Sovereign is... but, hey Mr., don't you sell this one! These are so hard to come by -- and from the point of view of an old blues or folk-hound -- they're incredibly cool pieces and only getting more inflated and out-of-reach for the enthusiast.

Anyway -- this is a true-blue Oscar Schmidt (New Jersey) build and it's labeled with their fancier "Sovereign" in-house brand. It was probably built around 1920-1925 or so and has all the "cool" factor that lovers of these guitars look for in a single instrument.

Fancy speckled gold purfling all over? Check. Ebony pyramid bridge? Check. Longer 25" scale? Check. Pearloid fretboard with blue fret markers? Check! ...and to top it off? The darn thing has solid koa all over the body and a good old mahogany neck. Sheesh!

Hey, and it sounds great, too! Sort of that mahogany/koa creamy mid-range emphasis with good power and that boxy, woody ladder-braced tone.


The best bit of these old OS makes is that they were built structurally sound enough to survive in demanding, "player" situations. Unlike the lightly braced Harmony and Regal products which can sound really nice but can change more dramatically season to season (because of weather changes), these OS builds are still ladder-braced but built a little more heavily and logically to withstand true steel-string tension over time.

This is more than likely why they became so popular with blues and early old-time country artists -- price break and durability. They're also handsome.


So... check this out (and it's all over the guitar)... multi-ply binding back to back with inlaid gold-speckle purfling. This stuff catches light like crazy. Combine that with the chocolatey-orange tone of that gorgeous koa body and you really have a sexy aesthetic appeal.



Nice ebony bridge with original, pearl-inlaid bridge pins. The bone saddle is one I added. The original was slightly too low and was rather thin and small, too. This heftier chunk of bone will certainly sweeten up the tone and provide a good stable platform for the strings.

As far as other work was concerned: this got a neck reset (including a shim-up of the joint, per the usual), fret level and dress, and fretboard extension realignment while here. The neck itself was lightly warped (maybe 1/32") but the frets were tall enough to level down straight so in effect the playing surface is now "straight" and it plays like a dream.


Sweet-as-heck pearloid board with imprinted, blue-stamped fret markers. As usual, the paint for the markers is slightly offset from the actual embossed designs.


Cool Sovereign logo at the headstock. The bone nut was good to go (and original), though I did have to reslot the B&E strings which were too close to the board edge for their own good.


So pretty!



Anyone else see that gorgeous flame on the sides?



Makes you want to eat it, huh? Yummy.



Good quality tuners, too. I didn't even have to lube them.


I love the gold stripe down the back of the neck, too.



The medium-large D-shaped neck is still cozy to play.


To see a guitar like this, all original (save saddle), crack-free, and with good finish... one just has to be thankful for history not mucking it all up. These OS makes tended to be handled a lot and played hard all over the place, so this sort of condition is really usually the exception.



Original endpin, too.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

what a beauty - it must be heaven for you to work on something like this

Anonymous said...

That's Beautiful Jake.
You really do get some interesting instruments.

charlie said...

Wow! Fantastic! Love the better quality OS instruments. There is a similar Sovereign for sale on ebay right now but this one is nicer.

Anonymous said...

SO gorgeous.... I'm drooling a little