4/06/2015

1920s Oscar Schmidt-made FHCM Parlor Guitar




I could've sworn I'd posted this guitar before, but looking back through my posts... apparently I hadn't! It's going to be up on the inventory in a little bit and I originally worked on this for a customer who now owns several similar OS guitars so this one's up for grabs.

Like most other "First Hawaiian Conservatory of Music" guitars, this one was made by Oscar Schmidt and originally intended to be played as a "Hawaiian" guitar with a raised nut and strings, straight saddle, and played with a slide/steel in the lap. It's fairly typical of OS for the time (and very similar to Stella parlors sold by OS) with an 0-sized (13.25" lower bout) body and (in this case) 24 3/4" scale length.

My work included a new rosewood bridge install, neck reset, fret level/dress (and fret reseating), new bone saddle and nut, and perhaps seam or brace repairs? I can't really recall, now, as it's been a few months. It plays spot-on (3/32" bass, 1/16" treble action at the 12th fret) and has that good, warm, woody tone that these blues-preferred OS guitars tend to have. The neck has only the tiniest relief (~1/64") when tuned to pitch. I'd say this is an ideal guitar for folk and country-blues with a bit of ragtime thrown in. It's a good singing guitar as it has warmth, but it doesn't have a lot of snap for lead playing.



The top, back, and sides are all solid birch and the soundhole and top are bound in cream (now yellowed) celluloid.



The finish is distressed in the usual "Oscar Schmidt" ways -- a sort of alligatored and weather-checked patina is all over and there are some light finish drips here and there (they were really, really churning these out when this was new). The nut is a hair over 1 3/4" and the neck profile is a generous C shape with a bit of V hiding under the curve. It's a big neck!


The owner/consignor had added fake MOP dots and I forgot to remove them before the pictures. In reality, this guitar just has two celluloid dots at the 5 and 7 positions.

I did add side dots in the usual places for an OS, though.

The fretboard is discolored because this originally shipped with a bunch of fret-mark labels pasted to it for use with Hawaiian music notation/study aids. They've long been removed and there's a little bit of the stuff left here and there. Personally... I think it's a cool look, but the board could certainly be scrubbed entirely free of the stuff.



The new rosewood pyramid bridge (plus rosewood pins and compensated bone saddle) makes minor action adjustment much easier and is far more stable than the usual bridges that these shipped with.

It also "looks" period to a certain extent as many OS parlors had rosewood pyramid bridges.



This sort of "faded dark crimson" finish is really typical for many Oscar Schmidts from the time. My own "favorite uke" is an OS with almost exactly the same trim and materials.



The back has two tight hairline cracks (3" each) that're filled up and stable.

Note the case-related heat/humidity distress to the finish here and there on the back.









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