1920s Wizard (Oscar Schmidt-made) 8-String Taropatch Ukulele Conversion

This has Bruno's "Wizard" branding at the headstock, but it was made by Oscar Schmidt in the '20s.

I originally worked on this way back in 2009 and then again in 2011. Now it's back again and it was traded-in towards some consignment sales and repairs a while back. I let it sit... and sit... and sit. Each time it returned it was a bit more beat-up. This time it arrived-back with a missing mid-brace, back brace, and an upper-bout brace that had come unattached.

I decided that it was a little lightly-built to stay in service as a tiple, and so I righted all of those wrongs and then converted it into an 8-string tenor ukulele instead. I strung it up with unison stringing like a taropatch uke, but the string slots at the nut are cut to allow modern 8-string-uke octave-strung sets as well.

It's still on the beat-up side but it's a lot happier in its new context and actually more fun to play this way (it's also playing spot-on). It has a clean, bright sound that records easily and a narrower nut than other tiples of the time so its 8-string configuration makes a little more sense. I cut the old 10-string tuner plates down to mandolin-style plates and reused them, but popped pearl dots in the old open holes for fun. At the bridge, I converted it from a "tie-block" configuration to a modern-style "string-through" string load with a new fret saddle.

Repairs included: a previous neck reset, previous fret level/dress, side dots, tuner modification, saddle/bridge modification, replacement center top brace, replacement band/strapping back brace, minor hairline crack and seam re-repairs to the back, and setup.

Made by: Oscar Schmidt

Made in: Jersey City, NJ, USA

Top wood: solid spruce

Back & sides wood: solid birch

Bracing type: ladder (modified)

Bridge: gum?

Fretboard: gum? something like rosewood but not...

Neck wood: poplar

Tone: clean, crisp, bright, shimmery

Suitable for: folk, world, popular retro, Hawaiian, etc.

Action height at 12th fret: 1/16" overall (fast, spot-on)
String gauges: two sets of D'Addario EJ99T fluorocarbon

Neck shape: medium-big V

Board radius: flat

Truss rod: none

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: low/small

Scale length: 17"

Nut width: 1 5/16"

String spacing at nut: 1 1/8"

String spacing at bridge: 2 1/16"

Body length: 12"

Body width: 8 3/4"

Body depth: 3 5/8"

Weight: 1 lb 12 oz

Condition notes: replacement nut, modded bridge, modded tuners. Top has tons of pickwear and a couple of hairline cracks (repaired) near the soundhole and one (repaired) tiny hairline crack below the bridge. The back has a few medium-sized (repaired) hairline cracks as well. There are a number of repaired seams and some of the binding is not perfectly flush from swell/contraction, but it's not obvious. Two of the braces on the top are replaced and the mid-brace on the back is a replacement, too. There's chip-out in the headstock veneer, two filled tuner-post holes in the headstock, and a filled patch of chipped-out fretboard in the 1st-fret position. A small portion of back binding has been replaced/filled near the endpin area. The fretboard extension also dips down from the rest of the board as the top around the soundhole is a little distorted after years of settling-in. That said, it's in good order structurally.