Oscar Schmidt is a Division of U.S. Music Corp. It was founded in 1871 and incorporated in 1911. By the early 1900s, the company had five factories in Europe and a factory on Ferry Street in Jersey City. They made all kinds of stringed instruments, guitars, banjos, mandolins, ukuleles, zithers, and autoharps.
The company prospered through the early 1920s. Oscar Schmidt instruments were sold in many rural parts of the country where no music stores existed. Oscar Schmidt salesmen distributed the products far and wide, making them available in general, small town furniture and dry goods stores. Country guitar pickers and blues musicians living in areas of the South and in Appalachia, far from the city, frequently played Oscar Schmidt instruments because they were both inexpensive and available locally. But equally important, they were often chosen solely on merits of their superior tone and volume. Charley Patton is said to have preferred his Oscar Schmidt Stella to a Gibson because the Oscar Schmidt was louder. Loudness was very important in the days before amplification. It was during the 1930s that Leadbelly’s famous Stella 12-string guitar was produced.
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