5/30/2014

c.1925 Oscar Schmidt-made 8 1/4" Rim Banjo Ukulele




This banjo uke is an odd duck and I've never seen one quite the same before. I've seen many similar Oscar Schmidt builds but none of them with as many hooks or as large a head. Most run in the 7" range with half the amount of hooks and no tonering. This has an 8 1/4" head and a nice tall hoop tonering which gives it a bit more oomph.

It's not branded but it's very similar except for the (very cool) headstock to the build style, materials, and design of other OS branded banjo ukes I've worked on (most under the Sovereign or Stella names). This means a hard maple neck and rim as and tough build.




Work included installing a new head (as usual I re-purposed a torn or damaged bigger vintage head for use on this rim -- in this case a decent Rogers head), new bridge, fret level/dress, new bone nut, replacement of the damaged dowel with a Gibson/Epiphone style bolted heel mechanism, cleaning, and setup. It plays spot on and is strung with regular Aquila Nylguts. This has a 13" soprano scale.


The cute headstock is loaded with its original friction tuners though I did add washers to the top and bottom to keep turning smooth. The headstock veneer also needed regluing in a few spots.


The maple neck sports a separate (ebony? dyed something?) fretboard.




Without the original dowel stick, this rim looks very "Epiphone" from the same time. All the rim hardware is otherwise original to the instrument.


This looks like a two piece neck with a center-stripe addition but in reality it's a one-piece maple neck with those stripes inlaid in a narrow channel sort of like a Fender "skunk stripe."


This heel shape is very typical of OS builds.




The inlaid "stripe strip" is also set in the rim's side, too.



The hardware is all fairly rusty and grungy but it's a nice fitting look, I think.


My new neck-bolt mechanism is a bit loud, though! It works quite nicely, though... and I even have a "locator pin" installed in the heel in addition to the main bolt to keep the neck from tilting if it gets a whack or loosens up now and then from atmospheric changes.

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