11/08/2013

c.1925 Oscar Schmit "Hilo" Style 650 Hawaiian Guitar



Now, folks, these are pretty rare. They're even rarer in the fancier models, like this one with is figured/flamed mahogany and rope binding. I've been wanting to pick one of these up for the shop for a while as I love their airy, sweet, rich and extended-harmonics sound. They do what they're made for perfectly -- raised-string lap guitar work -- and look good, doing it.

Did I mention the lovely irony of a "Hawaiian" guitar being made in Jersey City, NJ?

Work included a bridge reglue, tuner lube, and light setup. I also backfilled and sealed a few very-tight hairline cracks that weren't through the wood but ran along the grain in a couple places on top and on the back. The guitar itself is in fantastic shape for being such a lightweight build and the only real signs of age are the weather-checked/slightly alligatory finish (on the back mostly) and some belly behind the bridge (par for the course with these guys).




Most of these Hilo-branded guitars were made with koa of varying degrees and most pop up with very plain appointments. This one, instead, seems to be made with quite flamed mahogany and has nice rope-bound edges everywhere which follow the general style of Oscar Schmidt's ukes from the time as well.



Big old pearl dots in a walnut? or koa? fretboard with inlaid position marks.

The scale on this guitar is setup for 25 1/2" on the fretboard but in actuality it's around 25 3/8" at the saddle. This is a non-issue as 1/8" of difference overall doesn't effect your playing position in any noticeable way as it corresponds to the "fret" markers.


The original bone nut is on the guitar but I jacked it up slightly to give the strings a little more lift. This had a metal extender nut on it when I got it.


Update: Since posting these photos the saddle has been replaced with a fret-style saddle. This has improved tone, intonation, and stability as the old celluloid was just not cutting it anymore.

Original rosewood bridge with 3 bolts. The pins are original, too, as is the slightly wobbled celluloid? saddle. In addition to regluing the bridge itself and reaming the pin holes a bit, I also had to reglue a section of the bridge that was hairline-cracked towards the saddle area. The saddle leans slightly (as expected of a synthetic material under a tight back-angle) but this doesn't effect the tone/stability as far as I can tell. 


Don't you just love the look of this thing?



Here you can get a sense of the hollow-neck construction that seems to add some of that lingering, bigger-than-it-looks sound of airspace to the guitar. The guitar itself is a 00-size body (14 1/2" width) with a shallow 3" depth.


I chose to leave the tuners back-mounted rather than flipping them over for a more modern "turned up" headstock look. I prefer the vintage-style rear mounting as I usually turn the guitar up in my lap to tune up even if it's a lap guitar.


...tasty, all-solid wood!







Original endpin...


...and a label in great shape...


...and an original leather case in good shape!

Note also the period Elton "steel" and its leather case as well as 2 period fingerpicks. There's a case compartment, too, with old Black Diamond string packs.


How great is that case?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congrats, beautiful instrument.
Any chance of an You-tube perfomance?
Yes, yes I know you are busy.
Greetings,

Frank