Oscar Schmidt Sovereign Orchestra Model (OM) c 1932 | $1575 | A few years after the death of Oscar Schmidt, the man, Harmony guitars, of Chicago, had purchased Schmidt's guitar factory in Jersey City, NJ. Around this time, C.F. Martin began the transition from the slotted headstock, 12-fret instruments, to solid headstock, 14-fret OM guitars. This move by the slow-to-change Martin factory very likely created a ripple effect through all guitar manufacturers. The result was the introduction of the Professional Orchestra Model by the Schmidt factory, a step in the direction of the modern acoustic guitar.
The Sovereign OM appears to have been offered in two versions, the 'Professional Orchestra Model', as seen in the ad copy on the back of the 1932 Schmidt catalog, and the example we offer here. It's a very rare guitar in the vintage market; we've seen one 'Professional', and then this example, and that's it, although it wouldn't be a surprise if more surface.
At first glance, it's a good looking guitar with its dark finish and small sunburst, topped off with inlaid sound hole purfling, faux-tortoise guard and white binding on top and neck. On this model, the top (ladder-braced), back and sides are all solid birch. The neck appears mahogany and the fingerboard 'ebonized' maple. The strip tuners and bridge (painted maple) appear original to the guitar. 'Sovereign', which represented the top-of-the-line OS instruments, is embossed on the headstock.
The body measures 15 3/8" across at the lower bout, and is 3 11/16" deep at the end pin. Scale length is 25 7/16", which is atypical of the 'big-body' OS instruments where the scale length exceeded 26". The neck is carved in a soft 'V' shape, and is 1 3/4" across at the nut with string spacing 2 1/8" across at the saddle.
The guitar is in Ex - condition, with no major dinks or dunks to report. There appears to be a 2" crack in the lower bass bout, and some nicks touched up, plus assorted and sundry wear and dings, but overall, quite the looker! Fingerboard shows some divots in the first position, but the frets are tall. The intonation measures a hair sharp with the Snark, but sounds good to the ear. Neck binding shows a few cracks.
The guitar has a fresh neck reset and fret level/dress. A few top braces were re-glued and two sound hole braces were added to mitigate the common ladder bracing 'wrinkle' across the sound hole.
The Sov OM plays easily and produces a warm, woody and open sound, with a great bass 'thump' and strong mids and treble, quite unique thanks to its dimensions and components .. a really fun blues box but could hold its own in a combo setting for sure.
Comes with an old soft case in good condition, which could be original to the guitar.
Check the sound clip!
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Forty-eight hour test drive on all instruments..if not to your liking, return for refund minus shipping costs.