1920s Oscar Schmidt Banjo Mandolin

Our Certified Banjo Mechanic, Tim, worked on this one for a customer. It's an old 1920s Oscar Schmidt-made banjo mandolin and these usually have a "Sovereign" brand at the headstock. Instead, it has someone's added sticker-style decorative touch up there. These were made in New Jersey.

This banjo-mando has an archtop-style tonering and, as a result, it's got a crisp, clean sound and plenty of carrying-power. Tim did a lot to it -- it got a fresh Renaissance head, replacement mando-style, fully-compensated bridge, bolt-reinforcement to the neck joint, a fret level/dress, cleaning, and setup work.

A customer wandered in and tried it out (we were just putting it away in the case) and was shocked by what these instruments can be like when they're adjusted properly (he's a mando player and had never tried one dialed-in) and it was pretty fun to share the experience with him!

My recipe for success with these is, when possible -- a new synthetic head, mando-style bridge (longer foot means less tuning instability), a damped tailpiece-end of the strings, small foam dampener between the dowel and the head, a fairly tight head, and extra reinforcement for the rim/neck joint as most "traditional" neck join options on these old guys are not satisfactory for holding-up to banjo-mando tension. Lastly, the strings need to be kept real light -- I use the 32w-9 GHS A240 set on these.