I asked a couple weeks ago if anyone was familiar with Oscar Schmidt guitars, specifically their 3/4 size dreadnought (model OG1). Well I took the plunge and ordered one, and now that I've played it a couple days I thought I'd pass on my thoughts.
This is a nice, nice, NICE little guitar for the money! Best hundred bucks I ever spent. It is NOT a cheap balsawood toy like so many of the 3/4 size guitars out there. It is a well designed, well built, small body short scale guitar.
It played great straight out of the box. Yeah, I'll get a professional set-up, but it'll happen on a when-I-get-around-to-it basis. I'm pretty happy with the way it plays now.
TOP: the Oscar schmidt catalog says it is a select spruce top. I suspect it's laminate, but honestly I can't tell. Can any of the Washburn company reps who hang around here answer that question? I got the natural finish, and it is very nice to look at. Also has a tortoiseshell-like inlay around the soundhole and around the top binding (for this price, I think it has to be a decal, not a real inlay - but it is done very well and looks great).
BACK & SIDES: Catalpa! I think this is the first guitar I've seen with catalpa (at least that I've been aware of). It's a very nice, reddish brown wood (much redder than mahogany) with a very fine grain.
NECK: Three piece mahogany. Adjustable truss rod. Very comfortable shape. Reminds me of my D10, but just a touch narrower
BINDING: White plastic binding on the top, back, and fretboard. Looks like the same material as on my D10 and my M1SDL mandolin.
FRETBOARD: Rosewood. 20 frets, neck joins the body at the 14th (just like everthing else). Dot inlay. Funny thing, there's no dot on the third fret and a double dot on the seventh - just like on a Martin!
TUNERS: Die cast, sealed tuners. They look like slightly smaller versions of the tuners on my D10. Stays in tune very well. I played it for a couple hours today, and I just popped the tuner on it - spot on.
SCALE: 22.75 inch
Oscar Schmidt OG1 vs. Washburn D10: The Little Oscar does sound very good, but the D10 beats the pants off of it (well, yeah...). However, I mostly play to relax, and sometimes that big ol' dread isn't very relaxing to play. And I'm over six feet tall! The smaller body size of the OG1 gets a plus here.
Oscar OG1 vs Washburn Rover: The Rover is ultra compact and ultra portable. If that's the number one consideration for you, then the Rover is the guitar for you. I have no complaints whatsoever about the quality of the Rover. I do find it terribly difficult to play because all the weight is in the neck. The Rover has a longer scale than the Oscar (24 vs 22.75 inch). But the Little Oscar plays easy, is louder, and the tone is better. And so my Rover is for sale. (An aside: the Rover bridge is the same bride that Washburn uses on the OG1 (and all of the steel string Oscars, to judge from the catalog)).
VERDICT: Oh, cloud nine baby! Washburn's quality standards absolutely carry over to the Oscar Schmidt line (Oscars have the same lifetime warranty, BTW). OUtstanding value for the money. I'd buy another one in a heartbeat. And I may sooner than later - there's a half-size Oscar that I may track down for my kid.