6/26/2014

c.1925 Oscar Schmidt-made "Artist" 0-size Parlor Guitar




Here's a customer's cool old Oscar Schmidt build. It's late 20s/early 30s in origin and began life as a raised-nut Hawaiian model. I've converted it over to "Spanish" play which involved a new bridge, neck reset, fret level/dress, and whatnot. The "Artist" branding doesn't mean much and it's clearly in the vein of "First Hawaiian Conservatory" OS instruments though it does have a longer 25" scale.

It's got a good healthy OS sound to it by which I mean boxy and bluesy with an undeniable creamy Jersey-made vibe. These definitely have their own voice compared to the legions of Chicago-built Harmony, Regal and Kay ladder-braced contemporaries which tend to be more honky with excess overtones.


The solid spruce top, solid birch back and sides, and hunk of poplar neck are all crack-free and full of original finish. How about that? The top also has this excellent purfling mixed with white celluloid edging. It's a cool look. The body is just under 0 size.


When setting this up I reused the original raised Hawaiian nut but cutting it down and reslotting it. It's some sort of hardwood... possibly a dirty-looking bit of ebony.


The Hawaiian-style numbering learner's system is still extant even after a bit of cleaning. It's cute, so I didn't scrub it off.

The neck itself had a tad of warp in it which was mostly removed with a fret level/dress. There's still a tiny bit of relief but of the sort that one wouldn't even argue with on a brand new guitar (under 1/32" overall).


When I reset the neck I found a terribly-made dovetail joint that was cut too straight (more like a tenon joint) that had been shimmed-up and glued right from the factory that way! I knew it was pointless to go the traditional route so I both glued and double-bolted this neck with bolt access at the neck block internally.

Sometimes with converting originally-lap guitars I find lazy factory work in the neck pocket and have to improvise to make the best of the situation. For example...


...even after giving this a decent bit of extra back-angle when resetting the neck I still needed to use a low-profile new (rosewood, compensated) bridge (with ebony pins) because when this was all put together OS didn't really think about its use as a fretted model. You can see similar compromises I've had to make in the past with dozens and dozens of old Harmony 20s/30s makes which were originally Hawaiian-intent as well.

Just an FYI, here: I don't have a soundclip yet because as I post this the guitar is gluing up with a new additional bridge plate installed to ameliorate slipping ball-ends letting the wrap run over the saddle.






The back has the usual applied-decal OS backstrip. I just have to say again how surprised I am that there are no cracks on this guitar: someone stored it nicely! It has its original case which is why I assume it isn't totally beat-up.


A bit of lube and those original tuners were good to go.


...and there's the cool oversize OS endpin with its pearl dot. Everything is original to this guitar save its new bridge area, too.

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