Oscar Schmidt 'Decalcomania' c 1937 | $750 | (v2235) The decade following the productive 1920s was tough for the Oscar Schmidt company. Oscar himself had died in '29, and then the depression came along. By the mid-thirties the company had sold off most of its factories but for the Ferry St. factory in Jersey City, with records showing that a new owner had taken control. Sometime between 1935 and 1939, the Harmony company had purchased the business and rights to the brands. In 1939, Stella-branded guitars began showing up in the Harmony catalogs and it was a time of mix-matched Stella/Harmony guitars. This particular guitar appears to be one of those 'tweeners'.
The guitar shows many of the classic OS Stella traits: square top kerfing, gold decalcomania rosette, the arched profile of the back and heel, the 'snakehead' shape of the head stock, and even the screws that attach the tuners are of the Schmidt type. There are a few other clues that are not typical of Schmidt guitars: the position dot at the 9th fret instead of the 10th, no white-celluloid sound hole binding, and the 'duco'-finished fingerboard paint appeared on some Harmony guitars as early as 1932. Two other interesting characteristics are the compensated saddle and the gear-over tuners, which appeared as standard before the 1930s. All in all, though, this is undoubtedly a Schmidt-made guitar!
This concert-size guitar measures 13 1/2" across the lower bout. Scale length is 25". The neck measures 1 13/16" across at the nut, and string spacing is 2 1/4" across at the saddle.
The top, back and sides are all solid birch. The top and back feature a Gibson-esque sunburst. The top is adorned with a decalcomania rosette and binding in white paint. The bridge is black-painted maple, which originally had a compensated fretwire saddle (now slotted for bone). The neck is poplar, carved in a 'C' shape and features an unusual (for OS) duco-painted fingerboard with four black position dots. The head stock shows just a hint of an oval-shaped logo now lost to time.
The guitar spent its life thus far set up for lap-style playing with a nut riser. We recently reset the neck; glued three back brace tips; cleaned and lubed the tuners; leveled and dressed the frets. The guitar appears crack free, with the action set at ~ 6/64". The only non-original part is the saddle, which replaces the original fret wire saddle. The finish is original and looks good, with some nicks and dings from wear and use. The necks shows a decent amount of relief, but nothing extreme to cause any buzzing up the neck.
The guitar plays comfortably and produces the classic Stella boxy blues tone, with strong mids and nice sustain. Great for country blues picking in both Spanish tuning and slide.
Comes with its likely original soft case in good condition.
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