1/09/2017

1920s Oscar Schmidt FHCM Parlor Guitar





At this point, the number of First Hawaiian Conservatory of Music parlors I've worked on is getting ridiculous. I worked on two in November of last year and then a smattering of others over the past few years. This one is owned by a customer of mine and when it arrived, it'd already seen some old work done to it -- a neck reset, a replacement or reprofiled (with a 12" radius!) fretboard, and a replacement bridge and tuners.

My work was simple -- I installed a new, rosewood (stained) bridge, new pins and bone saddle, gave the frets a level/dress, fit some proper 20s Oscar Schmidt-style tuners from my parts-bins, cleated old crack repairs where needed, and set it up with a regular set of 12s. It plays beautifully and has the typical, woody, warm, and folksy sound that these FHCM models always have. Unlike a lot of old ladder-braced parlors, the FHCM guitars take a flatpick or heavy fingerpicking quite easily and return a sweet (rather than brash) tone.


The black finish on this guitar was added later and one can see the red/brown finish found on most FHCM models peeking out from under the topcoat. The guitar is made entirely from solid birch in the body and sports a poplar neck with a maple fretboard.

This one has a 1 3/4" nut width, 25" scale, and just-over 13" lower bout.


A replacement, decent-quality bone nut was on the guitar when it got to me.


I also added side dots. Note the big, jumbo frets and the 12" radius to the board. The radius helps the left-hand feel, I think, over your average FHCM -- but it feels a little strange at first when one is expecting 100% flat.




I had to touch-up around the bridge where finish had been crackled to the bare wood in the past. While I usually use a pyramid bridge to replace damaged or missing original bridges, I thought this pointed, light-belly bridge suited the look -- especially with its coloration.


As you can see, the old neck reset gave the guitar plenty of height at the saddle.








The old tuners work fine and have new, StewMac-supplied cream buttons.



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