View Full Version : Sovereign Mandolin

Jul-23-2011, 7:27am
This is a mandolin I was given as a gift less than a year ago. It is my first, and I'm having a blast learning to play it. I know little about it - best I've heard is that it is likely mid-20s and I've seen on the internet that Oscar Schmidtt bought out the Sovereign line? Does anyone know anything else about this type of mandolin?

Thanks so much!

Jul-23-2011, 7:28am
And here are a few more pictures...

barney 59
Jul-23-2011, 5:10pm
Or was it that Kay/Harmony bought out the Sovereign line from Schmidtt? Sovereign was a Harmony product in the 1960's. This mandolin is quite similar to a Weymann Mandolute.

Jake Wildwood
Jul-23-2011, 7:15pm

Sovereign was the higher-end Oscar Schmidt brand, then they also had La Scala and Stella brands as well. Hilo was their Hawaiian guitar brand from back then, too.

OS vanished around 1940 and the names of their brands were sold to Harmony. You see Harmony releasing new OS-named instruments (Stella and Sovereign) in late 1939 (?) I think.

Your mando dates to around c.1920-1925, just as you suspected. RE the Weymann mandolute comment -- yes and no -- these have a more distinct canted top design and they sound like a darker, saucier version of the canted-top flatbacks (with the teardrop shape) produced by Lyon & Healy, Harmony, and Regal at the time. The Weymanns tend to be deeper-bodied and with less of a cant (almost just domed) and higher, thinner bracing, which produces more of a refined tone with (generally) sculpted bass.

Does that make sense?

My short-of-it? These things kick butt after they're gone-over and setup.

Jul-23-2011, 8:22pm
It's nice to have a proper, easily searchable Sovereign thread. I figured Mike E would dive in on this, so I am glad, Jake, that you picked it up. I don't know much about them, other than they do seem to be a notch above ordinary and I tend to toss in a desultory bid when they pass by on ebay. Typically, good looking mandolins. Here is one I have in my files which looks very Chicago to me (unlike Bob's) though my guess this is also '20s and predates the Harmony era (or perhaps that started sooner.....) I have seen some very nice bowlbacks under their label as well.

This would seem a good place for folks to weigh in with a few more examples. I don't have good Mandolute images in my files, but that would also be a nice pair of photos to comp to illustrate Jake's point.


Jake Wildwood
Jul-23-2011, 8:39pm
Definitely predates the Harmony era... I've worked on that same design about a dozen times in various OS-named (and distributor named) variations from the '20s. You can check em out in some reprint catalogs, too -- fun stuff!

Jul-25-2011, 12:44pm
Nice instrument.

Jul-25-2011, 12:52pm
Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts and insight into this instrument! I quickly fell in love with it, and I'm excited to see where things go from here.

May-17-2012, 9:09pm
Hello! Joined just to post in this thread. I have a Sovereign M280 that is from the 90's I believe but I haven't seen any made that recently anywhere else or been able to find any information on it at all. It was purchased from a local music store in Dickson, Tn called Mary's Music I believe. It is basically the same as this one but darker.


Does anyone have any information on it or links to material where I can learn more about it? Thanks so much.

May-17-2012, 9:22pm
Yours is an imported mandolin that was brought in under a few different brand names and is related to the mandolin in this thread only by name, there is no connection by builder.

May-22-2012, 7:36am
Gotcha. Thanks so much. Where can I find some information about it?

May-22-2012, 9:45am
The quick answer is that you probably won't find any definitive information. These didn't set the world on fire and the company that used the name probably didn't use it very long.

May-22-2012, 6:45pm
So basically, they were just knock offs? It seems like if there are enough out there that people know kind of what happened with them that there would at least be a site dedicated to bashing them! Ha, I appreciate all of your feedback.

May-22-2012, 9:18pm
Honestly I think you'll find at least one picture of a similar mandolin in the worst scroll of the last century thread but it won't give you any more information.

Capt. E
Sep-12-2013, 10:34am
I thought I'd renew this thread with my newly acquired Sovereign...Except for having a replacement bridge, it is all original and in great condition with the original canvus end-loading case.. Plays very nicely and I'll agree about the "darker, saucier" comment.

I have a serial number stamped on the brace seen below the soundhole: 30 07642