1852 Schmidt & Maul Guitar

1852 Schmidt & Maul Guitar

It’s beyond rare to find a guitar from the early Martin – Coupa – Schmidt – Maul – Schatz era in this state of preservation. And one this large. This rare model Schmidt & Maul guitar – by the original C.F. Martin's most famous colleagues and contemporaries– is signed and dated, October 18th, 1852, and is in its original coffin case. And best of all– it plays wonderfully, with low action. A unique piece of American guitar history– not for hanging on the wall but to play.

The instrument is signed on the underside of the top:

Louis Schmidt

Tompkinsville  Staten Island

New York   388 Broadway

October 18th  1852

U.S.

This higher end, Spanish neck/heel (not ice-cream cone) Schmidt & Maul is bigger than all the Schmidt & Maul, Schmidt, or George Maul guitars that have come up for sale in the past decades (and not many of any kind have come up for sale). It’s a bit larger than a size 2 Martin, with a width at lower bout of 12 3/16 inches.(Every other Schmidt & Maul that has come to market has been a smaller guitar.)

The guitar is braced inside (all original) with an early X-bracing variation similar to the 1953 Schmidt & Maul featured on p. 213 of the book “Inventing the American Guitar– The Pre-Civil War Innovations of C.F. Martin and His Contemporaries” edited by Robert Shaw and Peter Szego. (Hal Leonard Books, 2013). Like the 1853 guitar illustrated in that book, this guitar has bracing on top and back that is very close to the guitar that CF Martin and Schatz made for Madame de Goni.

With all original finish, original ebony bridge, and original Jerome tuners– it’s in remarkable condition. To get the best of both worlds– historically authenticity and playability– the guitar has just had a recent neck set, original bridge reglue, and other minor work including new saddle, by one of the country’s top luthiers and authorities for early Martin and early American guitars– Steve Kovacik. All work was done by Steve to historically correct preservation standards after extensive examination and consultation.

(Note, in the photo: the picture of the signature inside the guitar: the two cleats are not later repairs– rather they are two center seam-stabilizing cleats put in by the original luthiers in 1852.)

Amazingly, this guitar plays in tune up and down the fretboard. Thank the original luthiers at 388 Broadway for that– they had the foresight to add slight compensation (not angled saddle compensation but cheating the saddle back a bit) to the bridge/saddle. Not even CF Martin did that in those years). And thanks to Steve Kovacik for setting this instrument up with low action not ballpark “19th century” action.

The Adirondack top is crack-free. Crack-free sides. There are two almost imperceptible cracks on the back– you have to look hard to see them, both addressed by Steve Kovacik.

  • “Schmidt & Maul New York” stamps on neck block, and center strip inside guitar
  • X-braced, all original braces inside
  • Spanish foot construction
  • Radiused Ebony fretboard
  • All historically correct bar fret replacement by Steve Kovacik (not too high, and not too thick– correct size bar frets were used, properly finished)
  • Original bridge plate, in fine condition
  • Original Jerome tuners and buttons
  • Original nut, and saddle, in case. New nut and saddle by Steve Kovacik
  • Rosette: shares a feature with early Martins– a variant of the “tooth” rosette– a three ring rosette with green “tooth” inner ring, and small “rope” outer rings
  • Marquetry Purfling around top, + Maple binding
  • Back purfling (backstrip): see Martin Guitars: A Technical Reference, p. 13: this is a “Pre-1867 style 34” Martin style purfling
  • Maple binding, back
  • Solid Adirondack top
  • Solid brazilian rosewood back and sides
  • Cedar, Spanish style neck and heel
  • Width at lower bout: 12 3/16 inches
  • Body length: 18 ¼ inches
  • Nut width: 1 15/16 inches
  • String spacing at bridge: 2 5/16
  • Scale length: 24 ½ inches (But there is a slight compensation: 12th fret to the saddle– Schmidt and Maul added a touch of compensation !
  • Original scooped-back ebony bridge
  • 100% original finish. No overspray, touch-up, etc. anywhere…wonderful finish

This instrument sounds and plays differently than the early Martins we’ve had. It’s stronger in the trebles and mids, not the bass strings. With this instrument, it means a guitar that responds to a more delicate touch– you barely have to pick or strum, to get wonderful tone. After careful experimentation for the best tone, we’ve put German Thomastik-Infeld Classic S, Precision KF110 strings on the guitar (totally within the tension levels appropriate for a 19th century guitar of this stature). The result is a guitar that responds to a very light touch, and really delivers– a nuanced, bright and glassy, brazilian tone– in the higher frets especially. Unlike 19th century Martins, it’s a joy to play especially in frets 5-14, with very low action that lets you explore the octaves and harmonics in places you’d typically not go to in such an early guitar. And with endless brazilian sustain.

The guitar is in its original hand-made wood coffin case, that still has its original fabric lining, and all hardware, all in great condition. Price: $9850.

Category: