1/05/2016

1930s Oscar Schmidt Stella Soprano Uke




This New Jersey-made uke came in trade to me and only needed a minor amount of work to get it going. Unlike their 20s designs which were more peanut-shaped like other mainland ukes, the 30s OS designs are a bit wider and rounder and have longer scales like Martin ukes. This  one is all solid mahogany with a rosewood fretboard and appears to be the OS take on a Martin style 0.

Work included cleating/filling some back cracks, a bridge mod/shave, light fret level/dress, extra washers for the tuner pegs, cleaning, and setup. It plays spot-on with 1/16" action at the 12th fret, intonates well, and has a good, sweet tone. It's strung with fluorocarbon strings.

This has a longer 13 3/4" scale length and a thinner nut width (I think it's 1 1/4" off-hand) with a C-shaped neck profile and so it feels more at home to a modern player than many older ukes with their shorter scales (13" to 13 1/4") and wider nuts.


The Stella logo is ebmossed and painted.


The frets are in good order and the neck is straight and with a good angle at the neck pocket.


The top is crack-free save a couple of very tiny hairlines at the first ring of the rosette at the soundhole.


The bridge had damage to its back edge which retained the strings. I recut the top of it and drilled tiny holes for through-bridge string mounting, instead, and a proper break/location for the saddle area.

With this setup, one passes the string through the hole in the bridge, pulls it through the soundhole to ball/knot-up, and then pulls it to the headstock to tie/wrap on the tuner.



As you can see, there's general use-wear throughout but it's still a handsome old uke. The back has several hairline cracks that've been cleated-up (see photos below).


The original bakelite-buttoned friction pegs are working just fine with the addition of four extra, new washers to keep the turning even and smooth. When/if these "slip," one needs to just tighten the screw at the rear of the button a little.







This side has an old repair to a crack on it that's stable but not the prettiest.


Here it is closer-up.


Here's some harsh light on the hairline cracks on the back. These all have bigger patch/cleats made from mahogany that I installed. They've also been filled/sealed, too.


There's the last one.

Also check out the cool weather-check to the finish.



These are the cleat/patches from mahogany veneer that I installed over the cracks in the back. When there are multiple hairlines in the same area I find that this is the most durable of repair options and adds the least weight.

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