Oscar Schmidt Bruno/Stella Hauver Conversion 12 String Flat Top Acoustic Guitar , c. 1925

Oscar Schmidt  Bruno/Stella Hauver Conversion 12 String Flat Top Acoustic Guitar ,  c. 1925

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Item # 8435
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Oscar Schmidt Bruno/Stella Hauver Conversion Model 12 String Flat Top Acoustic Guitar, c. 1925, made in Jersey City, NJ, natural finish, mahogany back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

This interesting and fine-sounding guitar is a fairly recent conversion of an old Oscar Schmidt Grand Concert guitar to the much desired Stella 12-string format. The work was done by Michael Hauver, a Maryland luthier who specializes in creating Stella-style instruments. A new 12-string neck and bridge were made in the correct period style for an original 1920's Oscar Schmidt body. As all-original Schmidt 12-strings are extremely rare this is a fairly economical way of answering the demand for them in an authentic if not completely original form.

This relatively fancy guitar was originally built by the Oscar Schmidt factory in Jersey City to be sold by C. Bruno in New York, one of their biggest customers and a major jobber at the time. The original blue paper soundhole label reads "C. Bruno & Son, New York, Established 1834, Incorporated 1908 Musical Instruments at Wholesale" and dates to the 1920's or earlier. This guitar was probably a 6-string instrument when new, although Bruno did sell Schmidt-made 12 strings. The top is spruce, bordered on the edge and around the soundhole with a double row of the colored wood marquetry typical of Schmidt with celluloid outer binding. The back and sides are mahogany, with a bound edge and a wide herringbone center strip. The bracing internally is mostly original, with the original wide, thin bridge plate and a couple of added braces to better support the 12-string format.

The newer neck is made in the original Stella Style, but with a rounder backed profile than most original period Schmidt necks. The headstock is in the original slotted style with repro strip tuners of the type that would have been fitted at the time. The logo is a nice reproduction of the 1920's "Stella" die stamp with inset paint like the original. The fingerboard is ebony (a step up from the dyed white woods usually seen on the originals) and inlaid with the typical fancy "New York" shaped pearl pattern seen on many such guitars. The bridge is also ebony, carved in the typical Stella style with 12 pins (many original Schmidts use only 6).

This guitar plays and sounds excellent; the rounder neck and ebony fingerboard definitely make it more user-friendly than most authentic 1920's Stella 12-strings. This smaller body guitar is not quite as deep sounding as the larger Stella 12 strings but still has a rich, powerful tone, and sounds great tuned to D or C#. Perfect for Barbecue Bob or Blind Willie stylings, and it will cover those Leadbelly tunes in a pinch. A very economical way to get the "true Blues" 12 string sound in a very gig-able instrument.
Overall length is 41 1/2 in. (105.4 cm.), 14 5/8 in. (37.1 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 3/4 in. (9.5 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 26 1/2 in. (673 mm.). Width of nut is 1 15/16 in. (49 mm.). There is some considerable wear and secondary finish work to the "old" parts of this guitar, but it is solidly rebuilt and retains a nicely relic'ed vintage patina. The newer neck and bridge show virtually no wear, but are well matched to the original components.

The mahogany back has several old grain cracks sealed up, with a somewhat sloppier overfinish than the rest of the instrument. A long section of the bass side adjacent to the back appears to have been replaced with a slightly differently grained mahogany. This section is about 1/2" wide and runs from heelblock to tailblock. We can only assume the original instrument suffered some heavy damage in this area. There is one minor grain crack to the treble side as well.

The top has a long spruce grain split off the treble side of the bridge, otherwise it appears crack free and very solid. The top has an ambered overfinish with the original finish showing wear underneath. Everything on this guitar is very solid, as it was fitted with the replica neck the body was properly rebuilt to suit. While not a fully original instrument this is a very fine and authentic sounding Stella 12-string at a fraction of the price of an all-original example.
Excellent - Condition.