2/20/2013

c.1925 Oscar Schmidt Tenor Banjo




This banjo is unlabeled but identical in construction to other Oscar Schmidt tenor banjos like this Stella I worked on in 2009. It's lightweight, has a fun old-timey warm tone, and of course sports a very cool red finish. In addition, it looks like the original owner of the instrument hand-painted some floral motifs on the headstock and fretboard, both of which are covered in "pearloid" celluloid material. The instrument itself is all-original except for the bridge, which is one from my parts bin.

Work included a fret level/dress, cleaning, setup, and a bolt-style neck brace modification (because the original neck brace type was/is inadequate). It plays just dandy with a straight neck and just for fun I've set it up with "Chicago" (DGBE) tuning strings. I figured with its bluesy/folky appeal, that tuning just made sense.


The palette used for the hand-painted floral motifs looks great with the creamy pearloid.



The original nickel-silver frets leveled and dressed nicely. This 'jo plays with 1/16" action at the 12th fret -- spot on -- and it has a 20 1/2" scale length which feels quick and easy. The neck has a D shape to it.



Who doesn't like a transparent-red banjo?



The original bakelite-buttoned pegs work fine.


Fun celluloid on the heel, too. The heel cap itself had come off with a slight split in the wood just below it as well, but I clamped it all up and it's good to go.


Simple resonator.



I'm not sure if this is the leavings of a decal or more hand-painted stuff.



The hardware is all in decent, if slightly tarnished, condition.


Here's the rim minus the resonator.


Here's the original neck brace. It supposedly works via friction but in reality doesn't do much at all. I've used it like a big washer, instead, and tightened the neck up to the pot with a bolt, in late 1800s fashion (or, 1920s Gibson fashion, depending on how you see it).


The resonator comes off with one screw which makes it easy enough to remove on the fly for an openback tone.


2 comments:

Your driver said...

I'm very interested in this banjo. I want to hear the sound samples though.

Antebellum Instruments said...

Clip will be available in about an hour. Thanks for the interest!