September 2016

Early 1930's Oscar Schmidt "Stella"

This is is a concert sized Stella from the late 1920's or very early 1930's. The guitar is in a very good crackfree condition and it is all over original except a new nut. The finish  of the back shows some signs of sheet paper which  probably were stored in the guitar case for a long time, otherwise the finish is in exceptional good condition.


It has the typical Schmidt metal tailpiece and a floating bridge.  But most eyecatching is the fancy, inlaied tortoise pickguard. Schmidt produced guitars with this type of pickguard over decades and changed the bracing of the top during the production years dramatically. There are examples with three, four and five top braces. This guitar has 4 top braces, one behind the bridgeplate two, between the soundhole and bridge plate and one under the fretboard extension.

Another special feature are the rhomboid, sprayed on position makers.


The lower bout measures 34,2cm (13,5''). So it is  a larger concert size guitar.

Body  is 45,8cm (18'') long,  24,4cm (9,61'') wide at the upper bout. The scale length is 63,5 cm (25").

Natural finished spruce top. Top edge is bound with celluloide.

Great wood rope purfling around the soundhole and top edge and fancy inlaied pickguard

"Stella" embossed headstock.

Solid birch back with a seldom used decal strip through the center.

Soild birch sides. Body is  9,4 cm (3,7") deep at the lower bout

Black stained maple fretboard with fancy, sprayed on positions markers.

Original metal tailpiece and black stained maple floating bridge.

Original tuners and new bone nut. Nut wide is 46mm (1,81").

The Sound

According to the fact that the guitar has four top braces (most Stellas have three, some early ones only two) the top is more rigid. This results in a more focused tone, with punchy mids and bass.  Very loud guitar, ideal for playing out on the streets back in the 1930's. This one has enough punch for playing it in a band

too. It is a great slide guitar as well as for playing f.e. Blind Lemon tunes.

I think that Lemons great "Matchbox Blues" is a nice tune for that guitar
The bass lines are crisp and crunchy.

The only known photograph of Blind Lemon shows him holding a parlor sized guitar with a tailpiece and some sort of rope purfling.

Blind Lemon Jefferson was one of the most popular country blues singers in the 1920's. A recording star and one of the most virtuosic and creative guitar players. Lemon Henry Jefferson (birth name) was born in Coutchman, Texas on September 24, 1893.


Jefferson began playing the guitar in his early teens, performing at picnics, parties and became a street musician playing in Texas towns.


He travelled to Dallas, Texas in the early 1910's, where he met and played with Leadbelly. He moved to Deep Ellum around 1917, where he met T-Bone Walker.

Lemon taught him how to play the "blues" guitar in exchange for Walker's services as a guide.


Lemon's recording carreer began in 1926. He moved to Chicago and recorded his first session  for Paramount. The first wo tracks were gospel tunes, realesed under the name Deacon L. J. Bates. His first realses under his own name ("Booster Blues" and "Dry Southern Blues") became hits. This leds  to the release of the other two songs from that session, "Got the Blues" and "Long Lonesome Blues", which became a runaway success.


Blind Lemon recorded about 100 tracks between 1926 and 1929 for Paramount.

He had a recording session for Okeh in 1927, only 2 songs were realesed. Jefferson was very succesfull and made Paramount, togehter with artists like Blind Blake and Ma Rainy,  to the leading recording company for the blues in the 1920s.


Blind Lemon Jefferson  died on December 19, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois.


"Matchbox Blues" was one of only two realesed songs, recorded for Okeh. After returning to Paramount a few months later, "Matchbox Blues" had already become such a hit that Paramount recorded and released two new versions of the song. All three versions are incredible examples of country blues guitar playing and singing, all are different. It is very interesting how Lemon changed guitar accompaniment in each version.

Okeh 80524: Matchbox Blues rec. March 14, 1927, Atlanta

Paramount 4424-2: Matchbox Blues rec. April, 1927, Chicago

Paramount 4446-4: Matchbox Blues rec. April, 1927, Chicago