Not the first name that comes to mind when you are thinking guitars, but they have been around a long time.
Longer than most in fact…
They started out in the 1870s and reached a high point of sales and development in the 1920s.
It really was an interesting operation, and we will never know whether its sales strategies which often left a bad taste in the mouth when considered today, were genuine attempts at sympathy or just ways of preying on people’s sympathies to get business.
During this period the sales team operated out of five manufacturing sites and employed a team of door-to-door salespeople.
That approach is rather unique in itself…
New instruments were issued each year, always linked to some national or international situation that would use customers sympathies as a strategy. And, sometimes songs were written to go along with such events.
Salespeople kept careful records of who bought what and why, and this influenced future sales strategies.
They went on, coming close to closure on a number of occasions, but were finally bought out by Washburn in the late 1970s
At that point, there was an upturn in quality and people started to look at Oscar Schmidt guitars a bit more seriously.
So, let’s take a look at one ourselves, the…
Oscar Schmidt OE30CH Semi-Hollow Body Cutaway
An Oscar Schmidt electric guitar by Washburn. A first look and it says classic styling about it. Almost a Gibson 335, it has the look and a super thinline body. There is just something about the shape of a double cutaway style like this.
It is an iconic and timeless shape and style. And, conjures up visions of all the great guitar builders over the decades. So when you produce an instrument in this style. It is inevitable it will have its fair share of comparisons with other guitars.
So, you have to get it right…
Of course, there is a lot more that goes into producing a semi-hollow body guitar than a solid body: more time and a good deal of craftsmanship.
Washburn might not exactly be the market leader in guitar design, but they have a reputation for manufacturing quality guitars, so let’s take a look at how this is put together and what’s onboard.
The Oscar Schmidt OE30CH has a double cutaway design made from mahogany. And, the ‘f’ holes are nicely cut in. It has a tasteful white edging, and the main body is finished in a cherry stain.
It could be considered as a ‘thin line’ as the body is about 2.5 inches at its widest point. The body size, though, is a little bigger than what would be considered usual with a double cutaway design.
It is well made with no obvious defects.
A maple bolt-on neck is attached with a Rosewood fingerboard and dot inlays. It is an easy to play neck that is smooth and slightly tapered.
Some players do not like the bolt-on neck, but when you are trying to keep costs down to produce a competitively priced guitar, it is an acceptable option.
They haven’t gone for anything particularly innovative on the hardware, just relying on tried and trusted options. Nor did they try and look too vintage and use a bridge system with a tailpiece as is common on some semi-hollow bodies.
A Tune-0-Matic bridge and a standard stop piece are chosen, and of course, they are reliable and functional. Likewise, the die-cast tuners are standard fare and are there to perform a job which they do well enough.
All are chrome plated and look attractive enough.
They have however been slightly adventurous with the pickups on the Oscar Schmidt OE30CH.
Twin Washburn HH humbuckers have been fitted, which is an interesting choice. This gives you some intriguing options but also some potential pitfalls.
To get the best from a humbucker, it needs to be driven hard. But with a semi-hollow body, you need to be careful with the volume levels as they are notorious for feedback problems.
The sound can swirl around a bit…
…inside those ‘f’ holes and you really need to be careful not to overdo the gain. As even turning the guitar to a different position can suddenly produce howls of irritating feedback where you don’t want it.
This rather seems to contradict the reasons for having them fitted in the first place.
But Oscar Schmidt wanted to build a guitar that would have all the attributes to be viewed in a positive light and so humbuckers we have got.
You would never get from a solid body…
Control them, and it will be fine. In fact better than fine it will be very good. Offering tone options through its semi-hollow construction, you would never get from a solid body.
We think therefore it is an interesting choice and one that if used wisely, will create some great sounds.
Once more, keeping things very simple. A volume and tone control for each pickup. And a three-way toggle switch for pickup selection.
The Oscar Schmidt OE30CH is a mirror image of one or two other rather well-known instruments.
So what about the sound?
With a couple of humbuckers onboard you would expect it to be a bit more aggressive than the usual semi-hollow and you would be right, it is. If we are, to be honest, the sound is a little thin. And, it doesn’t carry the thick sound of the very best. But, then you aren’t paying for the very best.[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahaDH-OxHMY[/embed]
The bridge pickup especially is quite toppy. And, to get the best out of the guitar using both pickups is a good idea. It is, though, a powerful setup and one that will appeal to a lot of people. And, having a semi-hollow body does give you a range of sound options.
So What Do We Think?
We think that the Oscar Schmidt OE30CH is going to be a popular guitar with a lot of people.
To start with, it looks the part. And, has borrowed its styling from some famous guitars. This gives it an instant appeal. It has been well crafted and isn’t going to fall apart in your hands.
The materials used for construction are of high quality. And the hardware, whilst being basic, is well-known for its reliability and solid performance.
Then there are the humbuckers. Not usually the norm on a semi-hollow body
Of course, there are others that use them, the Gibson 335, for example. But, that is in rather a different price bracket, to say the least.
We Would like To Emphasize One Thing
You haven’t got to thrash the pickups on this guitar all the time. And, if you just pull them back a bit, then you will find it has some sounds that are very characteristic of the semi-hollow guitar.
The neck pickup is very warm and lends itself to a bit of a jazzy style maybe while the bridge pickup could have a country twang to it, if you play around with the sound.
You are getting quite a lot…
It is a guitar built to be attractive to those on a budget. The price for what you are actually getting is ridiculously low. And, you are getting quite a lot.
Whoever, be it Washburn or the people at Oscar Schmidt who laid the basics down for this guitar. They knew what they wanted to produce and have achieved it.
We feel this will be a popular guitar, because while it is produced and manufactured on a budget, it is capable of doing so many things to a decent standard.
Would We Buy The Oscar Schmidt OE30CH?
We certainly would have no hesitation in recommending this guitar to anyone. We don’t think it is ideal for a learner though maybe an improver would certainly benefit. Again, maybe not a child, as the body is quite big.
It is certainly worth buying if you are looking for a backup guitar or maybe just looking for an alternative feel and sound. Then it fits the bill perfectly, and it won’t break the bank.
It has a lot of sound options available and plays very easily, and those two things alone make it a candidate for consideration.
That and the look, which it certainly has…
The Oscar Schmidt OE30CH is a good guitar as long as you’re not expecting to compare it to something that costs thousands. It is what it is. A guitar on a budget that gives you a lot of options and is worth every penny it costs and more.
Certainly, one to have a look at.