An Oahu from Euclid Avenue, Cleveland (1933?)


This guitar was bought at Gordy’s Music, 3341 Hilton Road at Ferndale Michigan, in May 2012. And paid by my son Gilles. These guitars were manufactured by the Oahu Publishing Company (Cleveland, Ohio). It was originally built for Oahu by the famous Oscar Schmidt Company, then by Harmony and later by Kay. The production ceased in 1985. It is what is usually called a Hawaiïan guitar, that is to say an instrument played on the lap with a steel bar – or a bottlenck – in open tunings. See Lorene Ryrmar and Joe Boyd, The Hawaiian Steel Guitar and its Great Hawaiian Musicians (Anaheim Hills : Centerstream Publishing, 1996).

Mine has this inscription in the soundhole, engraved by hot stamping: “Oahu Publishing and Co / 850 Euclid Ave / Cleveland Ohio.”

OahuMy Oahu.

Euclid Avenue, one of the most important avenues of Cleveland, was called “Millionaire’s Row” due to the rich hotels built between 1860 and 1920. The building houses now a casino, “The Schofield” (see below)

Euclide Avenue 850Euclid Avenue, 850, today

The inscription in the soundhole is different according to the date of the guitar. One of the oldest copies which I have met on Internet is a supposed 1920s one, where is inscribed: “Oahu / Publishing Co./Cleveland.O.”


Oahu, ClevelandOahu of 1920s. Sold by Billy Rocks Store, Ripley, Ohio, which I thank for information.

Another type of inscription is below, where Payne Ave has been subtituted to Euclid Avenue.

In this guitar (below), the stamp « looks to be 5-39 » according to the seller who takes it “to be indicating a 1939 guitar”. Mine has the n° “33” in the soundhole so that it suggests that it could be of 1933.

Oahu of 1939 sold by Yooptone Music, Marquette, Michigan, which I thank for information.

The brand on the head stock is also typical of the twenties and thirties.

Brand on the Oahu 1920s.

Brand of mine.

Another interesting feature is the inscription on the metal bridge/saddle.

From the Oahu 1920s

From my Oahu.

We may distinguish similarities PAT. N0. 9710 [1]…891.. Anyway, this bridge is typical of pre-war Oahu’s.

The black buttons of machine heads are the same.

From the Oahu 1920s

From mine.

On several guitars of the 1930, the frets have been numbered by hand, to make the playing easier.

Frets numbered on the 1930s copy sold by Fanny’s House, which I thank for information.

Frets numbered on mine.

The guitar cases look very much the same with the 1920s copy, mine and others…

The 1920s original case.

Case from the thirties with Oahu.

My original case

Unfortunately, I did not find in my case what accompanied the Oahu provided by Billy Rocks Store. The clever seller opportunely writes: “Comes with 2 solid metal vintage slides. These are highly collectable and sought after. There are also two metal finger picks. I do not know if these are vintage or not. There are 2 plastic thumb picks (again not sure if vintage).” The Manoloff slides from the thirties and fourties are also much sought by amateurs.