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I want you to think 'bout the things, baby, that me and you used to do - Frank Stokes, Bedtime Blues

Author Topic: Prewar Stellas  (Read 6175 times)

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Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Prewar Stellas
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2008, 02:22:09 PM »
On that note...anyone want to buy an Oscar Schmidt First Hawaiian Conservatory guitar?

If I didn't already have one I'd be first in the queue! I have 3 OS stella 6 strings and the First Hawaiian, whilst the worst in terms of  workmanship and finish, is by far the loudest and throatiest and best!

Offline onewent

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Re: Prewar Stellas
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2008, 05:04:37 PM »
..agree w/ much that's been said here ..the 20's vintage Stellas appear to be better made re materials, and many of the players who recorded on 78's reportedly used them, so they have 'that' sound and cachet, but, as was mentioned, I find it a crap shoot sometimes, because, it's not only the sound, but the basic playability and intonation that can vary from guitar to guitar, and I'll lump all brands of bottom end guitars into that catagory. 
I personally prefer the spruce top, pin bridge (hard wood bridge, not the stained pearwood w/ a piece of fretwire), hardwood fingerboard (again, not stained pear wood) combination.

Actually, for slide, most sound above and beyond what one would expect, fretted is a different story.. .. the fun part is the hunt! 

I have a ton of them in my basement awaiting repair, so, as soon as I get this retirement thing down, and get to fixing them, they'll be seeing the light of day again..  here's a link to one of them..(my first 'real' neck set success story)
.. Regards, Tom
« Last Edit: February 11, 2008, 05:06:35 PM by onewent »

Orb Mellon

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Re: Prewar Stellas
« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2008, 08:12:21 PM »
Thanks everybody for the perspective and resources.

The only reason I ask about the Oscar Schmidts is because I have yet to physically play one. I'm quite familiar with the other brands and makers. FWIW, I'm a reasonably experienced dumpster diving ladder player, I use a Cromwell (well that is a Gibson I guess) and a $43.00 on Ebay Harmony Stella from the 50s (which I actually like a lot).   

Oscar Schmidts, believe it or not, aren't that easy to come by, at least here around NYC.  Sometimes it's like they shipped them all out west and the Chicago builders all shipped East. I'm really seeking any experiences with general quality variables in the event that one day I see one on the internet and decide to buy it without demoing, who knows, maybe even from Zak ;)

Anyway Zak, very nice playing!!  When are you going to come south and play some shows maybe with Brownbird and me?


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Re: Prewar Stellas
« Reply #18 on: February 11, 2008, 09:44:09 PM »
When are you going to come south and play some shows maybe with Brownbird and me?
I would love to do that. We need to work that out sometime...
Rudy's CD gets a LOT of play around here!

As for Stella guitars, I don't think there's any real "mystique" to them, 10th fret dot markers or angled heel caps don't make 'em sound better than equivalent models from other makers of that era. You can find some really great deals on older ladder-braced guitars with less 'name recognition' - I am still looking for that Stella which will sound as good as my $100 B&J Serenader.

Offline Cambio

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Re: Prewar Stellas
« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2008, 05:36:11 AM »
Bighollowtwang is right, there is nothing special about Oscar Schmidt six strings that makes them sound better or play louder than other guitars from the same era.  The workmanship on some of them is God awful as are the materials they used.  That's not to say that they didn't make some great guitars, they certainly did,  but their mystique has been overblown in the past few years.  They are not exceptionally rare, after all, they were products of one of the biggest musical instrument factories in the world.  Now that the prices for them have gone up, they are starting to get flushed out of people's closets, attics and basements.
As for the argument that all the Blues players played Stellas, Patton isn't playing a Stella in the photo of him, neither is Lemon, Blake might be but it's hard to tell.  There was a Japanese guy that did some analysis of the photo of Blake and he thought he was playing a Chicago made guitar.  I have Dick Justice's guitar and it's a Supertone.
If you're looking for an old guitar, I'd recommend one from the 20's or 30's, when they were still hand built and still using hide glue.  You can get a lot more guitar if you go for one of the Chicago guitars instead of an OS.  I'd also buy one "as is" and have a local luthier fix it up.  I've seen ones that people have paid dealers fairly high prices, which still needed a bit of work.

Offline Slack

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Re: Prewar Stellas
« Reply #20 on: March 08, 2008, 05:29:17 PM »
Congrats to our own Todd Cambio!  Not only can he make guitars, he can write!  And knows how to drill sheet metal!  ;)

Great article by Todd on re-creating Leadbelly's 12 string in the Spring '08 issue of The Fretboard Journal.  An excellent quarterly that just keeps getting better.  If you have not checked the publication out -- this is as good excuse as any.

The website does not have the current issue up yet:

Current issue is on their blog however:

Tags: Stella Guitars 

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