6/26/2013

c.2005 Oscar Schmidt OH42SE Bajo Quinto



The bajo quinto (like its 2-extra-string brother the bajo sexto) is essentially a doubled-course baritone guitar that fills in the bass lines in many Northern Mexican and border folk bands. The sexto is tuned "EADGCF" starting at a bass guitar's low E while the quinto removes the E course and starts at the bass guitar's A string. The quinto seems to be the more favored instrument since many players of the sextos remove the low E course anyway since it gets in the way!

The first three courses (ADG) are tuned with octave strings while the top two (CF) are unison. This lets the player get a rich, thumpy, sparkly low-end that "bites" (in a similar fashion to "tic-tac" bass recording from the '50s) while having a clean, mandolin-ish high register for lead work. To boot, the scale length on these is almost always very close to that of a regular acoustic guitar, so if you're used to guitar-length stretches these are not awkward at all to play. The big difference in construction is that the bridge is shifted lower on the top, the body itself is larger than a normal guitar, and the neck joins the body closer to the nut (in this case, the 10th fret).


Ok, bajo quinto explanations aside, this is a Chinese-made instrument (the modern OS name has nothing to do with New Jersey), but it's quite well done. When my buddy brought this in for a setup and upgrades (new bone saddle) last year, I was super surprised at just how good the instrument is (especially since I've handled Paracho-made sextos before) for the money.

Not only do you get all the bling, no weird pickguards, a construction that is generally as good as the Mexican instruments I've tried, and a solid top, but it also has an active undersaddle pickup system installed which gives it a huge plugged-in sound.



I full suggest if you're looking for one of these or have one to get it properly setup. This came in (last year) as I would consider unplayable and left quite happy. Because the strings are fairly low-tension and bigger (and get banged around with heavy picks), action at the 12th runs a hair over 3/32" on the bass side.


I love the fancy binding on these instruments.


The rosewood, steer-shaped bridge has been upgraded with a bone saddle which really made it sound a heck of a lot better (and made it quite a bit louder, too).




Mahogany back and sides. This is a pretty clean example of one of these, though there are minor scuffs here and there.



This guitar was originally part of the Skanktone Guitars collection. Skanktone was run by Joe Schenkman of right-here-in-Rochester, Vermont, and specialized in fun, funky, wonky, and wild old guitars (among other things). He amassed a very cool personal collection that's been off-and-on stored for a number of years and now a fair number of the quirky and fun vintage items are being sold through Antebellum. Thanks for sharing the toys, Joe!

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