#1
Well, I picked up an old tenor guitar from a guy on kijiji the other day for pretty cheap

I've been trying to do a bunch of research to date this guitar, but I'm having a bit of trouble..

What I DO know is that Stella guitars were made by two different companies in their time.

Oscar Schmidt (Washburn now owns the Oscar Schmidt name, but back then it was it's own company) made Stella's from the early 1900s until 1939, when Harmony bought the fretted instrument line and took over the Stella name. I'm not sure how long after the takeover Harmony kept the Stella name going though

Now, I'm trying to find the year this was made..or even a model number
lots of the O.S. stella's seem to have a sticker just inside the soundhole stating the model number and the Stella/O.S. name (like most acoustics), but mine's missing this..

inside closer to the neck there's a serial number that ends in H604, which seems like a harmony number. They usually end in Hxxx denoting the model number, except Harmony's H604 was this.
so..it's not that.

that's one thing that makes me confused about the year, or even who made this.

One thing that seems to set O.S. Stella's apart from Harmony's is the inlays.. O.S. guitars seem to always have an inlay at the 10th fret, instead of the 9th like you see on most guitars, including Harmony Stellas.
mine has a 10th fret inlay, so..there's a point for it being pre- 1939

something that suggests I have a Harmony, not an O.S., is the name on the headstock..
from what I've found it seems like pre-39 the 'Stella' was underlined, but mine is not. That being said, the post-39 non-underlined 'Stella' looks like it's in a slightly different font. but..it's not very different, the script is just slightly thicker in certain places

The last thing I've found that could point to the date is the bracing.
O.S.'s used ladder bracing, where later models used x-bracing. mine has ladder bracing that follows the same pattern O.S. used.

so..there's sort of things that point to it being made before 1939, but also a few that make me unsure (the harmony-esque serial number and the non-underlined name)

So for now what I'm assuming is that this was built in '39 or '40 right after Harmony bought out the Stella name, and was put together using old O.S. stock...maybe?


anyway, on to the project

the top's solid, but has a pretty bad crack in it and is separating from the sides. Same with the back

the neck's straight though, so that's a plus

I haven't done much acoustic restoration, so I'm new to this. but what I'm doing right now is clamping the top and back to where they should be in a little humid space. I'm running a humidifier underneath a little fort I made in the basement out of old table pieces and blankets

one I can get the top to hold close to in place, I'll glue it up and re-clamp it. Ill only glue the top and bottom to the sides though, and on the inside of the soundhole where the bracing separated from the top
so I'll leave the split in the top unglued..hoping it holds that way I guess

anyway, pictures:









also, the nut came off and I was out of clamps..so I used a capo
#3
Is that a sapele top, or whats the grain?
Good luck on the crack, and congrats
Just call me Julius, J, etc.
Taking an Internet break for a while, will come on when I can.
#4
Quote by Invader Jim
you'd better make that beauty sing again.

it actually played with the top cracked and warped like that, and sounded super good for something so broken. So I've got high hopes

I'll make you proud

Quote by nowa90
Is that a sapele top, or whats the grain?
Good luck on the crack, and congrats

I'm not actually sure, but along the crack where the bare wood's exposed it looks too light to be sapele.. the super wide grain sort of makes it look like sapele though..so theres another mystery
#5
Its not a veneer/plywood, is it? It slightly looks like it in pic #4
Just call me Julius, J, etc.
Taking an Internet break for a while, will come on when I can.
#6
nope, the edge of the top is painted to give the look of binding, but the paint was chipping off at the corner which sort of makes it look like a few laminates put together

it's definitely solid..once I have a camera better than my phone around, I'll take a close up of the crack where you can see the bare wood


and just for progress, it's still clamped up in my little humidity fort right now. I think I'll leave it clamped and unglued for the night, then tomorrow I"ll glue and re-clamp, then leave it overnight again
#8
That is very cool, can't say I've ever heard of the brand however. Once you've done the repairs think you'll do something of a refinish?
________________________________________

Chur
#10
Good luck on this. Also, what's the instrument in the 4th pic in the background?
Obviously Fassa.
#11
thanks guys

I say no to a refinish as well, since I'd like to leave it as much original as I can. I was considering buffing it just to bring back some shine, but I feel like this guitar needs to look as old as it is, so I'll probably leave it alone

I've still got it clamped up with no glue, but tonight I'll glue it up and leave it clamped for a while. the top's actually looking surprisingly flat now that I've had it clamped for so long. there's a bit of bracing on the bass side of the soundhole that started to separate from the top, which seems like a big cause of the warping...so once I glue that I should have a relatively flat top, just with a crack in it


and that thing in the background is just a little novelty ukelele type instrument made out of a coconut. it's just a souvenir from Cuba though, it's not a very high quality thing
here a couple close ups I took for a different thread a while ago
http://i143.photobucket.com/albums/r144/4444james4444/IMG_0021.jpg
http://i143.photobucket.com/albums/r144/4444james4444/IMG_0022.jpg
#13
well, i got this up and playing a while ago. but today it's nice out and I have the day off, so I took some pictures




it's got a capo on the 2nd fret, cause as you can see here the nut seems a little too far from the first fret, which throws the intonation way off when playing open strings. it's still not perfect this way, but it's close enough for all I'm using it for at least




this picture makes it look like the top isn't all the way back down, but it is..that's just the way the light made it look in the picture. the crack in the top is still visible, but it's down solid and everything



Last edited by james4 at Jul 3, 2011,
#15
Quote by james4
I say no to a refinish as well, since I'd like to leave it as much original as I can. I was considering buffing it just to bring back some shine, but I feel like this guitar needs to look as old as it is, so I'll probably leave it alone


I concur! An old guitar with a new finish is like gramma wearing a miniskirt. Grampa might disagree with me.