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Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by Freeman Keller, Nov 14, 2019.

  1. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    We were away from the house last weekend and when we returned there was a message on my machine. "Hi Freeman, you probably don't remember me but I met you 40 or so years ago when we were in a professional society. I'm retired, do a little wood working and built a couple of guitars. A mutual friend thought I should show them to you...."

    I actually remembered his name, gave a call and invited him to stop by. He arrived with three cases, a very nice classical guitar that he had built, a very nice baritone ukulele, and a funky old clapboard case with some stickers on it. I admired the classical and uke, then he said "have you ever heard of Stella guitars?" "oh my god yes, I said, I love the old Stellas and have built a copy of one of their 12 strings". I opened the case and inside was a sweet little parlor guitar with the faint "Stella" logo.

    He said "I'm cleaning out a bunch of stuff and would you like it?". I said "of course, what do you want for it?". He said "(our friend) suggested that you might set up my classical so it is a little easier to play, if you would do that the Stella is yours".

    So, I am in the process of doing a setup on his classical guitar.

    Here is MY new old guitar

    IMG_5750.JPG IMG_5751.JPG IMG_5752.JPG IMG_5753.JPG IMG_5760.JPG IMG_5761.JPG

    Ladder braced, of course, unknown wood but the top and back are each one piece. Mother of toilet seat fret board, some cool engraving. Interesting gold sparkle rosette and purfling. Remarkably good shape, it needs a reset eventually but a little setup right now and its very playable.

    Seemed appropriate that the first thing I played on it was the wonderful Jay Unger theme from the Civil War series, Ashokan Fairwell. Then a little Betty and Dupree, Freight Train, some MJH. My kind of guitar.
     
  2. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Wow that is something else!
    I’ve never seen quite that combo of dark top light binding light fingerboard.
    And the top grain is beautiful in a sort of figured way but again unusual looking.
     
  3. Fluddman

    Fluddman Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I like it! And the nice way it came to be yours. Enjoy.
     
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  4. Dukex

    Dukex Tele-Holic

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    Yes, I like that a lot. Congrats on a very cool guitar and have fun with it!.
     
  5. Gabrielle84

    Gabrielle84 Tele-Meister

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    wow! Cool story and great looking old stella!
     
  6. Artslap

    Artslap Tele-Afflicted

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    Binding a la White Falcon. Very cool.

    (Sounded like a great fella and a great "you scratch my back.." trade)

    CP.
     
  7. mr newhaven

    mr newhaven Tele-Holic

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    That wood grain is bananas!
     
  8. Shuster

    Shuster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Pure Eye Candy, how does she sound!

    tumblr_inline_n8vn0fQool1sv5qzh.gif
     
  9. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Cool!
     
  10. Smokin OP

    Smokin OP Tele-Holic

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    Beautiful!
     
  11. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Got a reply back from Neil Harpe (he was helpful when I built my long scale 12 string a few years back). He says it is a 1932 Oscar Schmidt model #5066-G, sold new for twenty bucks (notice that you can get a dozen of them for $90). When you think about a $20 guitar at the height of the Depression that would be a pretty high end instrument.



    [​IMG]



    Mine is in remarkably good condition for a 90 year old instrument. It needs a neck reset (which I can do but will put off for a while) and the bridge plate is pretty chewed up, action is a mile high but its a killer slide guitar.
     
  12. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

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    Nice. I have been playing Schmidt-made 6 and 12 strings for decades. Back before the rise of the internet most assumed they were Harmonys so you could pick them up dirt cheap.

    And Neil knows his stuff and is always willing to help you out . In the past 15 or so years he sent me a 1939-40 catalog page which had info on my Regal jumbo 12 string (which I found in a trash can) and helped me figure out my unlabeled Schmidt-made Galiano jumbo (the same guitar which later appeared in his Stella book) and make sense out of a leftover Schmidt "Westbrook" Stella which Harmony acquired when they bought the company, rebadged and sold.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2019
  13. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Neil was a big help to me some years ago when I built my long scale ladder braced 12 string. I had a number of questions about strings and tuning and he gave some very good advice. He actually remembered our e-mail exchange when I asked him about this one.
     
  14. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Tele-Holic

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    You reckon the wood is birch?

    Bob
     
  15. Nightclub Dwight

    Nightclub Dwight Tele-Afflicted

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    Wow, that's really cool. Enjoy.
     
  16. Torren61

    Torren61 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Congrats, I love the fret markers.
     
  17. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Except that they put nine at ten and its been driving me buggy. Also no side markers which I seem to miss when they are missing.
     
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  18. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Before I saw the ad copy, my guess would have been rotary-cut birch veneer, the kind you see on hardwood plywood, which creates that unusual but pleasing grain figure. Is it possible that the top and back are laid up plies or is it solid?

    Also, can anybody chime in with what other guitars would have listed at in 1932 as a price point comparison?
     
  19. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    It is solid wood and one complete piece (no center seam). I'm pretty sure it is birch but it must also be stained to darken it and bring out the grain. Its actually quite stunning.

    I can partially answer your question about comparable prices in 1932. I have a 1932 Dobro, their cheapest model. It sold new for $27. I also have a 32 or 33 Martin ukulele - I read that it sold for $3 (I paid 5). From my book on vintage guitars I pieced prices of some Martins - D18 ($65), D28 ($100), D45 (200). Put three more zeros on those prices and thats about what they sell for today. For Gibson - L1 ($35, J45 ($60), Nick Lucas ($125), SJ200 ($250) and L5 ($275).

    Those are mostly "professional level" guitars bought and played by performing musicians of the times (well, the L1 is kind of a mid level guitar). Sears catalogs show guitars by Lyon and Healy and Washburn from $3.75 to $26. So the Oscar Schmidt Stellas were kind of mid priced - not the cheap things like Regal but certainly not the same level as Gibson and Martin. A National tricone was over twice as much at $46. Affordable by a blues man or woman, with the sound they were looking for.

    I'll add one last comment. This guitar does need a neck reset to be completely playable, I can do it but I'm putting it off (I might never do it, I really haven't decided). I did clean it up and restring it and right now it is resting in "Spanish" tuning (open G) and what I can say is it is one hell of a slide guitar - come in to my kitchen.....
     
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  20. Dan German

    Dan German Poster Extraordinaire

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    My first guitar was a Stella parlour. Not in the same league by any stretch of the imagination; it was a 70s Harmony cheapo, but it left me with a lifelong fondness for things that say “Stella” on the peg head, and parlour guitars in general. Yours is what I dreamed I was playing when I played mine. Spectacular.
     
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