1920s Oscar Schmidt Stella Fancy Parlor Guitar

This poor box has been languishing in my consignment rack since 2015. Yes! That's because it needed a lot of love to get worked-on and so was low-priority because of that. Now that it's done, though -- what a nice guitar it's turned-out to be! It's quite rough around the edges but the sound and playability is spot-on and it looks great from the front at least.

While this bears the less-expensive Stella branding at the headstock, it has features (inlaid pickguard, fancier purfling) that are more-common on Schmidt's more-upscale Sovereign line. Still, its basic spruce-over-birch, parlor-bodied design is roughly-comparable to other similar Stellas from the time

Its bracing is a little interesting, though: it has two braces on the lower bout just below the soundhole and ahead of the bridge plate/strapping brace and then one on the lower section right behind the bridge. I remember someone on YouTube was berating me for explaining that the FHCM guitar bracing was somehow different from other Oscar Schmidt 2-brace ladder bracing (it is, but I digress) as "all little Oscar Schmidts only had two on the lower bout." Well, I knew that was wrong. Here's some proof. I knew I'd handled a number of Schmidts like this one with the "two above" format.

The advantage of this 3-brace bracing is that the top is a little stiffer and handles the pin-bridge setup better -- and for whatever weird quirk of Oscar Schmidt trickery, it still retains all the woody/warm goodness you'd expect from one of these. The top still has a little light "S-curve" wave to it overall, but it's less wavy/sagged than the 2-brace versions get.

Suffice to say, if you're looking for a traditional-sounding country-blues/fingerpicking guitar, here ya go. It sounds like any number of old '20s and '30s recordings. It'll take a flatpicker or fingerpicker equally well and does old-time thumping excellently. I love being able to dig-into bass runs on these and find them fun rather than just "ok."

Repairs included: a neck reset (with double-bolt reinforcement and glue/shim-up), refret with medium stock, a new rosewood replacement bridge I made for it (same size as original), new bone saddle and nut, new ebony pins throughout, replacement ('50s but they look right) tuners, brace repairs (all back braces were missing -- I have new "strapping" braces in place that replace them), cleats for the top center seam and an old back crack repair, re-repairs to bad old back/side-seam repairs on the back, much cleaning, and setup.

Setup notes: it plays fast and bang-on with 3/32" bass and 1/16" treble action at the 12th fret. The neck is straight and it's strung with 50w-11 gauges. 12s would be fine for lowered tunings but stick to 11s on these for standard E-to-E.

Scale length: 25"
Nut width: 1 7/8"
String spacing at nut: 1 5/8"
String spacing at bridge: 2 3/16"
Body length: 17 7/8"
Lower bout width: 13 3/8"
Waist width: 7 3/4"
Upper bout width: 9 5/8"
Side depth at endpin: 3 1/2"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back/sides wood: solid birch
Bracing type: ladder (three & bridge-plate-brace on lower bout)
Fretboard: ebonized maple
Bridge: new rosewood w/bone saddle
Neck feel: big soft V, flat board

Condition notes: where to start? Everything on this guitar is in good order, now, and ready to go -- but it has a lot of ick on the back and sides. It's all pictured. Suffice to say -- there's an ugly old-patched area to the knee-side shoulder on the back/side seam, there are many mismatched/crept old seam repairs which I've cleaned-up to some extent, the back has big scratches and white streaks on it, there's spotting/staining (moisture damage) to the back and parts of the sides on the finish, and overall there's a ton of usewear throughout. There are also repaired cracks -- one on the back, one at the endpin/endblock, and then that area near the patch/filled section. The nut, saddle, bridge, and pins are all new replacements. The slightly-open center seam on the top-lower-bout was filled in the past but not cleated it -- I cleated it.


Andy said…
dang! berated on Youtube about vintage guitar bracing! kinda jealous