c.1915? Oscar Schmidt 12 String Mandolin

This is a rather nice 12 string bowlback from around 1910-1920 or so. Restoration included a whole top reglue, binding reglue and repair, plenty of bowl repair, and a lot of setup. It has a new bone bridge and bone nut, but otherwise is entirely original. It was made by Oscar Schmidt out of Jersey City, NJ -- knowledge gleaned from a fellow Mandolin Cafe member who pointed out the inlaid celluloid "OS" in the pickguard.

Materials include a rosewood bowl, mahogany neck, and wide-grained (spruce?) top. Bracing is big and tough, certainly necessary for so much tension. I've strung it up with octaves on the G and D courses and now my contemplative mind is curious about perhaps tuning it a step lower and octaving the A and E courses, too, with wound strings in the middle. Could be very interesting! My immediate impression of this mandolin once setup was complete is that it is quite loud, sustained, very "shimmery" and nuanced. With the 4 extra strings chords sound incredibly lush and full, rather than the typical "chop" you feel even on old classical-inspired bowlbacks. It's certainly a different feel than an 8-stringer.

Rosewood bowl. Finish cleaned up very nice. This was pretty grungy when first encountered.

Ebony board with a few sealed cracks running its length and a bit replaced with fill.

Headstock. Aluminum tuner buttons.

Back again.


This has ivoroid binding with some pretty purfling.


Tuners. These function very nicely despite their looks.



Greg said…
I have a friend who has a 12 string Mandolin. Royal Crest N100 with C.GARC 320 stamped on it. It needs new strings, but I am not sure where to go to know how to tune them. Any suggestions as to what he's got?
Send some photos to jake[at]thewildwoodflower.com and I can supply more information, more than likely.

For strings on 12 string mandolins I suggest going extra light, and use one and a half sets -- 32w, 20w, 13, 09 for gauges.
Unknown said…
I have a 12 string mandolin that is an Oscar Schmidt, looks identical to the one in the pictures (even down to the aluminum tuners). The one I have has two tuner broken. Any thoughts on the best way to replace those?
Unknown said…
I have the exact same one too. So nice to see it restored. I am looking to restore myself. Would love to discuss more how you restored. This one need some serious TLC!!!

Tina Combes said…
I have this exact mandolin. I am looking to sell it but I can’t find a value for it. I don’t want to sell it for less than it’s value. It was my grandfather’s.