3/31/2015

1920s Oscar Schmidt-made Oahu Koa Parlor Guitar




Customers send in some cool stuff, huh? This is an Oahu-branded parlor guitar (roughly 0-size) that was made by Oscar Schmidt in New Jersey. It's got an entirely solid Hawaiian koa wood body (ladder braced, of course) mated to a mahogany neck. I'm a sucker for koa, so this thing is right up my alley.

It started out as a Hawaiian (lap slide, raised strings) guitar with a straight-saddle bridge but I've converted it over to regular "Spanish" play by resetting the neck, leveling/dressing the frets, swapping the bridge for a compensated one, and setting it all up. It plays like a champ (with a hefty v-shaped neck) and the 24 7/8" scale length is "home base" for a Gibson fan like myself.


Is there anything nicer than the red-orange gleam of koa under an old, worn-in-friendly finish?


The original tuners lubed-up just fine and the metal brand-plate is, of course, pretty hip. The original celluloid nut was re-used but I did "lean" some slots closer together for proper spacing.


Pearl dots in a dyed-maple or dyed-pearwood board. The frets were practically untouched but needed a level/dress to get them spot-on. I also added side dots for modern practicality.


I replaced the old straight-saddle, rectangular rosewood bridge with this new compensated rosewood one. The coloration of this one was nice and light so when I applied a finish it matched right in with the koa! That's a plus.

I would've normally used a regular rectangular-style bridge but wanted to match the string spacing from the original as well as add some extra top stabilization... so this vaguely Knutsen-like bridge seemed perfect to match with the koa top. I made a new compensated bone saddle to fit, too, which has lots of height. The older plastic bridge pins were reused.

I've currently got it strung up with 50w-11 strings for E-E tuning and it's happy as can be.


I love that "rope" soundhole rosette.




The back and its seams have been reglued almost entirely in the past. It also has some old-repair hairline cracks which are holding swell.



When I reset the neck I had to modify this into a bolted-neck job. This one doesn't have as much "meat" at the lower portion of the heel as many guitars so it's a single-bolt version. I use hanger bolts that tighten up with a big hex nut on the inside that can be adjusted by any old 6-in-1 screwdriver. It works great and has allowed this neck to have a very stable footing.

The original dovetail joint was simply a joke. Someone had attempted shimming and regluing it at one point, but considering the poorly-cut joint, that was just asking for it to come loose and get funky later on (which it did, in abundance).

My bolted joint is both glued and bolted and should remain stable for the instrument's lifetime... and then be easy to "fix" if anything happens later on.









I wish the sunlight was better when I took the pics: the sides are nicely figured.

1 comment:

george said...

Very nice! What is the width at the nut?