10/02/2013

c.1920 Oscar Schmidt Fancy Flatback Mandolin




Update 2014: Before selling this on, the owner had me do the necessary work (remove fretboard extension, wedge-shape it, reinstall, level and dress the frets, setup -- and at the same time I filled the void in the dovetail joint so the neck would remain stable) and I recorded a clip for posterity after I was finished. Nice sound!

How weird is it to get two of essentially the same, randomly super-fancy, flatback model mandolin visiting the shop within a few weeks? This mandolin is very much similar to this guy, but has a replacement (floating, not glued) moustache-style bridge. It's also got a lot more finish wear and tear and unlike the other mando, I haven't done any work on it yet (it was in for a checkup to see what it needs).


I'm of the opinion that these were made by Oscar Schmidt for a variety of reasons, not the least being that they're almost the same build as at least 8 or 10 OS Stellas and Sovereign mandolins I've worked on in the past few years. The difference is in the fancy materials and level of bling: these are off the chart for OS-style instruments and feature fancy flamed maple and spruce bodies rather than spruce over mahogany or birch.

Unlike the lines of casually-similar Weymann "Mandolute" instruments, these OS designs are canted-top and flatback designs rather than domed designs and are far more similar to Vega, Martin, Harmony, and Regal canted-top flatback style mandolins in form and function. This leads to a warm, folky tone with a lot of volume for their size.



The profuse amount of pearl is pretty eye-catching.

This mando needs almost exactly the same work it's brother mando needed: fretboard extension reshaped into a "wedge" shape, fret level/dress, cleaning, setup, and any necessary crack or brace repair. The usual stuff for flatback mandos of this style...



The nicely-cut rosewood/bone bridge is pretty cute, as is the shell-like pickguard inlay.





Engraved, recessed tuners.


The neck is 2-piece, flamed maple, too.



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