1920s Oscar Schmidt "Sovereign" Size 2 Guitar

This is a consignor's guitar and it sure is gorgeous. I worked on a very similar model a while back, though this one has the "faux pearl" celluloid purfling around the edges rather than "gold sparkle." For the collector or player of vintage Oscar Schmidts (of country-blues Stella guitar fame), a Sovereign like this is a definite find. There aren't a whole lot of these fancy Schmidts out there and their bling is certainly eye-catching.

Work on this included a fret level/dress, recut of the bone saddle, string ramp additions, and a good setup and cleaning. It'd had work done on it in the past by a pro shop: replacement period-style ebony bridge, refret, and neck reset. Whoever worked on it, however, didn't go quite far enough in compensating the saddle or dialing-out the light relief in the neck via a fret level/dress after the refret. I've done that here and it means that this plays as good as it looks, now, too -- action is spot on at 3/32" E&A and 1/16" DGB&E at the 12th fret.

The body is all solid Hawaiian koa with meandering figure/flame here and there.

The headstock has a rosewood veneer and 1 13/16" wide bone nut.

The fretboard itself is maple with edges of rosewood (the dark bit) but the surface has a layer of creamy celluloid on it. The "inlay" is made of both embossed shapes and stenciled/stamped color -- though often, just like on this guitar, the stamps are "off" from the "embossed" bit.

The ebony bridge is a nice piece of craftsmanship and matches very closely the original bridges on these guitars. The bone saddle, unfortunately, was compensated at a pretty shallow angle so I had to give the saddle itself some extra compensation to add the right amount in. The pins look like StewMac-style ivoroid ones.

This has a 24 7/8" scale length and I've strung it with a balanced-tension set of 50w, 38w, 28w, 20w, 16, 12 strings which average-out at the same tension as a regular set of "11s." The slightly-thicker B&E strings let the guitar retain the snap and zing of a regular set of 54w-12 "lights," though.

There's general weather-check, handling-wear, and the like on the guitar but the only cracks are three smaller hairlines that are on the back. I couldn't even get them in my photos and they were glued-up/sealed, apparently, by the last fellow to work on this.

The neck is mahogany and it's been reset nicely.

The original tuners are holding up just fine.

The ebony endpin is non-original but nice.

A (presumably original) chip case comes with the guitar and will serve well for storage and light use.


Grex said...

What are B&E balanced tension strings? Who makes them?

Tom Joad said...

Beautiful! I just bought a 1952 OS Autoharp the other day, and I have a lot of their new guitars, including a couple spalted maple ones that I think are the most beautiful guitars I've ever seen. But I'll probably never get to play a real OS Soveriegn or Stella! I almost bought an old Harmony Stella, but it just didn't seem the same.