Thank you to everyone, especially my subscribers, for hanging in there on this website.  It has been 5 years now since I started it and it’s a surprise to me I am still around.

I realize that with the variety of subjects with my posts that they are not all going to appeal to everyone, but what surprises me is the many emails and comments I get in support of what I am doing.  And although I have my email address charles@koolaru.com in many places throughout the site, in all those 5 years I have only received one negative comment.  And it was a pretty pathetic one at that!

So, a big thank you for the support of everyone who reads my posts, especially those who have subscribed to receive notification when new material is posted.

Continue reading “A BIG THANK YOU!”

FIRST HAWAIIAN CONSERVATORY of MUSIC – an Oscar Schmidt label , 1919-1935

Blind Willie Johnson reputedly played a FHCM guitar

The First Hawaiian Conservatory of Music (FHCM), is well documented as a mail order marketing tool for the Oscar Schmidt Company.  They were sold for lap-style (i.e. Hawaiian-style) playing.  However played as a steel string flat-top they have a woody and punchy sound which is  well suited for blues playing. The gospel blues player Blind Willie Johnson, amongst others,  is reputed to have played one.

Jake Wildwood describes the sound: They’re braced a little differently from the average Schmidt and, as a result, have a sound that flits between “normal” ladder-braced voicing and something like a Gibson-ish x-braced voice. They’re woody, loud, and direct like your average Schmidt parlor but have more of a kick in the bass and lower-mids and with a slightly-scooped treble rather than the focus being all mids. This makes them vastly more suitable for genres outside of fingerpicked country-blues and the like.


Examples of 2 First Hawaiian Conservatory of Music guitars – an all birch model on the left and an all koa Hilo model on the right with rope binding on the front & back.

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The First Hawaiian Conservatory of Music (FHCM) is an Oscar Schmidt label.
Read more the FHCM label here.


1920’s All Koa FHCM Hilo Model guitar

The top of the range FHCM guitar is the Hilo model # 9-910.

Continue reading “FIRST HAWAIIAN CONSERVATORY of MUSIC 1920’s Koa Guitar: The Hilo”


These birch FHCM guitars must have been produced in their thousands from around the early 1920’s to 1935.

They are a ladder braced ‘O’ sized guitar (13 1/2″ wide) and originally were given away with a mail order course of how to play slide guitar ‘Hawaiian’ style. However it was realized by many of the early blues masters such as Blind Willie Johnson that birch guitars, with their raw sound, were great for playing the blues.  At the time these guitars could probably have been picked up quite cheaply from some of the many students of FHCM who gave up playing and never finished the course!

OSCAR SCHMIDT made First Hawaiian Conservatory of Music birch guitar – Photo: The Guitar Repairers, Brisbane, Australia.

These days they command good prices because of their reputation of sounding like those early blues recordings.  Red was a popular color but there was a variety of stains from almost black, to red, to orange to natural wood.

Continue reading “FIRST HAWAIIAN CONSERVATORY of MUSIC 1930’s Birch Guitar”

CANCER and Consideration for Others

Cartoon by Navie

Sometimes I think I take the sympathy thing too far.

I must remember that having a family member with a terminal disease is not easy.  In fact, often-times it is easier on the person with the disease than those who love them.

I can lie in bed and try to sleep; trying to deal with the pain and restlessness from whatever treatment I am on.  Sometimes quietly making moaning sounds, often not realizing how disturbing I am being.

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TOOL CADDY* for my Grandson

(* One dictionary definition of ‘Caddy’: a container or device for storing or holding objects when they are not in use).

I have 4 grandsons and 6 granddaughters.  All are amazing! One of my grandsons is 14 and loves to build things and is what I call “an ideas person”.  Always thinking about how things work and thinking of different ways of doing things.

He lives in the USA and I live in Australia, so I do not get to see him nearly as much as I like.

I have a range of interests and vintage guitars is only a small part of my life, but I’ve always worked with my hands and I have a workbench that reflects this:

My grandson has only a few tools so I decided to give him some small hand tools as a birthday gift and  a ‘tool caddy’ to keep them in.  I made it ‘flat pack’ so he could put the caddy together himself, and it made it easier to send.

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c.1929 HARMONY ‘Supertone’ Bradley Kincaid Houn’ Dog Guitar

This is another guitar I’ve been wanting to do a post on for quite sometime.

c.1929 SUPERTONE Bradley Kincaid Houn’ Dog Guitar decal.

If you are an up and coming luthier and looking for a small guitar to test your restoration skills, you’d be hard pressed to find a better guitar to start with.

c.1929 ‘Supertone’ Bradley Kincaid Houn’ Dog Guitar

This guitar is the holder of a couple of ‘firsts’.  From the beginning of 1930 to the early 1940’s, Western themed decorated guitars, along with Hawaiian themed guitars, were hugely popular, dominating much of the budget guitar market.  This is recognized as the first ‘Cowboy Guitar’. This guitar is also recognized as one of, if not the first, ‘endorsement’ guitars.

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c.1940 KAY SMALL GUITAR with floral decoration

Sometimes you just luck out!

I bought this small guitar quite a few years ago now, and it had been sitting ever since in an old guitar case.  I bought it because it cost very little and I do like small guitars. It is made by the Kay Musical Instrument Company in Chicago. It had 2 horizontal braces on the top between the bridge and the base of the guitar (end pin end). A tell-tale trait of Kay’s, as is the style of bridge.
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c.1928 WEYMANN Style 650 ‘Junior’ Size Guitar

Owner – Tom Bode

c.1928 Weymann Style 650 ‘Junior’ size

There are two Style 650 guitars that appear in Weymann catalogues.  The one in the c.1924 catalogue has rosewood back and sides and a curly figured maple 2-piece neck.  It is the ‘junior model of the Style 854 guitar.

This guitar appears in bother the c.1928 and c.1930 catalogues and has mahogany back and sides with a mahogany 2-piece neck.
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c.1900 WEYMANN ‘Highest Quality’ Beautiful Guitar- Source: Deluca Music

This guitar shows the workmanship of the H.A. Weymann & Son company – Quality at it’s absolute best!

I’ve been sitting on photos of this guitar for about 4 years, it’s time to share them with permission from Deluca Music store in Hatboro, Pennsylvania and the photographer David Humphreys.

So far this guitar has the lowest serial number (#1310) of all the 450+ Weymann instruments I have registered, although I have eleven instruments with no serial numbers which will be older than this guitar.  There is no Style number either, as Weymann did not introduce those until about 1913. It is not so easy to accurately calculate the manufacture date during this period as there has not been a ‘Rosetta Stone’ instrument turn up yet with a serial number that can be dated definitively to a particular date around that time.

So I date this beautiful guitar to c.1900, plus or minus 2 or possibly 3 years:

Continue reading “c.1900 WEYMANN ‘Highest Quality’ Beautiful Guitar- Source: Deluca Music”