February 2016

1920s Stella Grand Concert 12-string

Oscar Schmidts 12-string guitars are legendary  and this one is a fantastic find.

Completly original except a new bone saddle, crackfree and with a nice alligatored finish. The Oscar Schmidt Company begun producing 12-strings sometimes around 1910. Many different models were offered. Simple all birch guitars to fancy  high grade models. This one is classified in the upper mid range. Regarding the braces, neck, headstock and bridge the guitar  was built somewhere in between 1926-1929. Larger body with lower bout  37,5cm (14,76"), upper is 26,4 cm (10.4"). Schmidt called this a Grand Concert size guitar. It has

the long scale too. Scale length is 67,7 cm (26,65").

Solid adirondack spruce top, perfect grained with the larger type of rope binding all around the edge of top and the soundhole.

Solid birch back and sides with a decalcomania strip through the center of the back.

Reseted V-shaped neck with a black stained maple fretboard. Position markers at the 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th fret. Action is low , a hair under 4mm (0,157") at the 12th fret.

Deep body 10,0 cm (3,95"), bound with white celluloide (top and back edge).

Stella embossed/stamped headstock

Original tuners and  original bone nut. Nut wide is 51 mm (2"). string spacing

46mm (1,8").

Original fancy brazilian rosewood bridge. The bone saddle is new, as well as the pins. The original pins are all there.

The Sound

This is a very responsive and loud guitar, more focused than a Jumbo or auditorium sized instrument. Strong mid range, great for playing bass lines and ideal for playing f.e. Blind Willie McTell tunes.


Blind Willie with Stella 12-string guitar. Early model from the late 1910th or early 1920s. Spruce top and probably birch sides and back. Decalcomania rosette and decals on the top between bridge and soundhole.

Georgia player Blind Willie McTell and of course Leadbelly  are among the most famouse 12-string guitars players.  It seems to be a 12-string concentration in Georgia. Barbecue Bob is another giant 12-string player from Georgia. They all played Stella guitars.  For the Video i choosed Blind Willie McTells song "Searching the deserts for the blues".  McTell recorded the song as "Hot Shot Willie"  in 1932  for Victor lable and it appears on the B-side of  "Lonesame day blues".  In the original recording you can hear spoken parts by Ruby Glaze, which is probably McTells first wife Kate McTell. There are many  similarities to

"Ticket Agent Blues" which was recorded in 1935.