2/15/2018

1930s Oscar Schmidt-made Schoenhut Banjo Ukulele




There are a lot of old banjo ukuleles that have the Schoenhut brand-name at the headstock and they all seem to have been made by several factories. I'm almost certain that this customer's instrument was made by Oscar Schmidt in New Jersey, however, due to the neck shape, wide nut, cut of the  neck's profile, 13 1/4" scale length, and very thin wooden rim. They're the only makers that I can think of that match these particular design elements

Work on this included a fret level/dress, general adjustments, parts-bin freebie bridge, and setup. It's playing as it should with 1/16" action at the 12th fret and it's strung with Martin fluorocarbon strings. It has a bit of a spanky, open-air, ringy sort of vibe that these thin-walled wooden rim instruments can have. It has to do with that lightweight build vibrating nice and free. Still -- I like to damp that a bit, which is evidenced by a pad of foam under the strings near the tailpiece.


This uke appears all-original save the tuners and bridge.


The nut is 1 5/16" and the neck has a medium D-shaped profile.


The neck seems to be poplar.


While the bridge is an old Non-Tip, it actually serves perfectly as a "normal" bridge. The inline-rim "California style" banjo-ukes shipped from the factory with thin, super-lightweight bridges like these and considering that the owner of this uke has five in the shop, I thought it might be nice to have one with a non-standard bridge type on it for tonal variety. These give a bit more volume and bite.




These tuners are newer Grover units and they were installed OK, but I did disassemble them and re-install to make sure all the fittings were flush with the headstock in the right ways. They sure beat old-fashioned friction pegs, though.



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