9/09/2015

1920s Oscar Schmidt-made Wm. J. Smith Soprano Uke




Update: This was traded back-in when the owner upgraded to a Martin uke and has, in the meantime, had some uke friction pegs installed. Here's what it looks like at the headstock now:


 
No cracks, all-original save a new fret saddle (old one was bent), gorgeous and peanut-shaped, with alligatored finish all over... this is a "classic" old soprano. She's a beaut. The label says William J. Smith (the retailer) but this is clearly a late-teens, early 20s Oscar Schmidt. It's all-solid mahogany throughout save for a thin rosewood fretboard. Nice touches include the lovely rope binding and rosette and a rope backstrip as well. The uke is built lightweight and has a very koa-sounding Hawaiian-style chime to it which suits period music and strummers/vaudville fancy-pants players perfectly. Think of old Kumalaes or similar.

Work included a reglue of the bridge, replacement of the fret saddle, a fret level/dress, peg dope for the original wooden pegs, cleaning, and a good setup with Martin fluoro strings. It plays on-the-dot at 1/16" action at the 12th fret. The only variation in the setup is that the board dips very slightly down towards the body from the 9th fret on -- but only on the treble side. There's also an original chip case (a little beat) in green that comes with it, though I forgot to snap a pic of that.


How about that?


I reused the original ebony nut but sanded id and respaced the strings. They were a bit too "outboard" to begin with.






I love the look of the alligatoring over that cinnamon-brown mahogany, don't you?


The original rosewood pegs work fine but could be replaced at request.






2 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's a real nice uke, Jake but why the fret wire saddle instead of bone?

Jake Wildwood said...

Because I like it -- and there were a number of ukes that used it at the time so it looks a little more "right" to my eyes than bone (which wasn't used too often on ukes from the 20s).