Oscar Schmidt is by far the oldest instrument manufacturer we have discussed so far, starting way back in 1871. Besides ukuleles they make banjos, mandolins, acoustic and electric guitars, and of course they are well known for their zithers and autoharps. In fact, if you already own and enjoy the ukulele, give the autoharp a try. It is another easy to play and bright sounding instrument, and while that may seem like odd advice out of nowhere, we promise you will like it as much as the uke! Over the years Oscar Schmidt has changed hands a few times and they technically are now known as Washburn International. If you do buy from this company, it will be an Oscar Schmidt by Washburn ukulele. Which you see on the headstocks these days and is kind of clunky.
Despite the large name on the ukulele they still have a large customer base due to brand recognition and making a great product. If you are a new customer, why not buy from an established company? The woods used in their ukes are basswood, spruce, mahogany, koa, spalted mango, spalted maple, and of course composite materials when necessary (remember composites are materials made of multiple items like carbon fibers or space age plastics). They use spruce a lot in their soundboard, especially on the deeper sounding models like the baritone. Washburn is the same as every single other ukulele company in that they produce low end laminate models and higher end solid wood ukes. As usual if you want better quality it will cost more. If you want the best Oscar Schmidt uke out there, then save up more for a better budget.
|Oscar Schmidt OU2P||Laminated mahogany pineapple shaped concert|
Rosewood fretboard and satin finish
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|Oscar Schmidt OU4||Spruce and mahogany tenor|
Rosewood back and sides and abalone rosette with gloss finish
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|Oscar Schmidt OU7||Spalted mango long neck concert size|
Abalone binding and rosette with a gloss finish
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|Oscar Schmidt OU2||Laminated mahogany concert|
Mahogany neck and satin finish
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Oscar Schmidt makes ukuleles in all sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. They also manufacture pineapple models, lefty ukes, 8 strings, and some models come in acoustic-electric. The Oscar Schmidt concert uke the OU5 is one of the most popular models, for the price it sounds incredible. If you are a complete beginner than your best bet is to try one of the concerts or tenors out, that way you get the little extra space and sound projection. If you must stick to the original size, then of course there some great Oscar Schmidt soprano ukes. We have past articles on Oscar Schmidt ukulele reviews, they include some of the best Oscar Schmidt ukuleles available. Below are just a few other models on the lower end of the Washburn brand, perhaps one will catch your eye.
Oscar Schmidt OU2P
This is not the best Oscar Schmidt concert ukulele; it is definitely one of the lower end models. It is made from laminated mahogany, rosewood fretboard, and has a satin finish. It doesn’t have any extras like tuners or gig bags, so every penny is going to ukulele quality. It is a concert size and in a pineapple shape, some players like this, others may find it ugly. Most ukuleles on the cheaper side are made of laminated mahogany so it will have that same bright and warm sound. If you are looking to upgrade to a better ukulele than you should keep looking. These OU2’s are perfect for first time players, or as gifts to see if a student takes an interest before spending a fortune.
“I wasn’t too happy with my OU2 at first, it took a long time to keep the strings in tune. While I read this is normal, it seemed way too much. But now that it’s tuned and I’ve been playing it, it’s really a nice instrument. Just remember if you are a complete newbie like me than be prepared to be frustrated first, followed by uke satisfaction. Ha!”Scott M.
“This Oscar Schmidt concert ukulele was my first purchase. Of all the lower end models this is one of the few without all the extra accessories. I only wanted a great sounding ukulele, not all the bundles. It took some time to tune, but it settles and before you know it you are addicted, now I want another!”Stephen
Oscar Schmidt OU4
This Oscar Schmidt tenor ukulele is made from mahogany, rosewood back and sides, and a select spruce top. Oscar Schmidt by Washburn ukes are known for spruce tops, especially on the deeper tenor and baritone models. It also has abalone rosette, abalone binding, and a gloss finish. As far as low price laminate tenors this costs a little bit more than other brands, likely because of the spruce. Some folks love spruce, others not so much, it definitely gives the larger ukes more of a deeper guitar like sound. Besides the long name on the headstock they also have the word “Aloha” printed, which would look so much better if it was gone! 🧐 If you like the way this ukulele looks and it fits your tenor budget, give it a try.
“I have owned this ukulele for a few years, in the beginning when I didn’t know how to play it took forever to stay in tune and at times it seemed like fret buzz was occurring. I guess I was just a bad player, but the spruce top has aged so very well. Not exactly what a new buyer wants to hear, but this will age wonderfully!”Marsha Simmons
“After reading a few Oscar Schmidt ukulele reviews, I realized I loved their instruments, just not the ones given in the reviews! After going to their homepage I was able to look at every single model offered by OS. I settled on the OU4 as it was a tenor and I prefer the color of spruce over mahogany or koa. I have not been disappointed, I love this uke and will be buying more as gifts. Everyone should play the ukulele!”George Marshall
Oscar Schmidt OU7
As we get more money in our budget, we get into the best Oscar Schmidt ukuleles, this tenor is not the highest cost, but the build may be more of interest. The top is made of spalted mango which gives it a very unique design and a different if not better resonance. It also uses a synthetic bone for the saddle and its best feature is likely the longer neck. That is if not for it being hard to see what is longer about the neck! Perhaps it is more of a body cross between a concert and tenor, but with a tenor fretboard. This model also has abalone rosette, binding, and a gloss finish. It has no extras or accessories added, you are only paying for the ukulele. If the design and style is attractive and you need a tenor than the OU7 is for you.
“ I love my OU7 and haven’t really had any issues, until playing a couple other ukes and now I think it has a muted sound. As nice as the spalted mango looks so appealing it seems to not have the resonance they claim. And it’s not that it has a bad sound, it is just deafferent than the average mahogany uke. Perhaps there are certain genres and styles that are more suited to mango.”Benjamin
“I bought this as I wanted something unique looking, right away I noticed something different about the sound. It is definitely not as loud as other laminate woods. However I use this ukulele for practice, so I am not concerned about onstage projection. Perhaps for the price you can find a solid wood soundboard instead of laminate. I guess the style is the main pro.”Mark R.
Oscar Schmidt OU2
This Oscar Schmidt concert ukulele is one of the lower end models, to the point where there are very few and simple features. It is made of laminated mahogany and with nothing but a plain satin finish so you can still see the wood grain. It doesn’t come with any accessories or fun extras, it’s all about the ukulele. Despite its very plain and cheap appearance it is a great starter model for a beginning ukulele player. For the player who wants no frills or bells and only needs a great sounding instrument. This is the similar model as the pineapple above, just in a basic uke design.
“This is not one of the best Oscar Schmidt ukes to buy, instead it is one of the lowest priced models with a surprising amount of sound! I would say the OU2 is the best concert to start on. This simple uke has been built by a company that’s been in business forever now and they clearly know how to make a starter ukulele.”anonymous
“The Oscar Schmidt by Washburn ukulele has been made in various countries over the years, it seems to have gone down in quality recently. I bought a few OS models over again and this time they don’t sound as great. Perhaps this just means you need to be more concerned about quality control when you get your uke. Make sure you check it thoroughly.”Stephen
Considering how long the company has been around your chances of finding a decent Oscar Schmidt are pretty high. Yeah from many of the Oscar Schmidt by Washburn reviews it seems quality has gone downhill. In this day in age they have an incredible amount of competition. With all these other companies like Kala, Cordoba, Hola, Lanikai, and many more the race is to make the cheapest uke that the customer can buy. Which is not the best way to purchase instruments, but it is the most common method.
You can tell a beginning student many times that the better ukes cost a little more (read our “Best Ukuleles” and “Best Ukulels under $200” reviews), but let’s face it the models under $100 sell the most. If you want to find the best Oscar Schmidt ukulele than you need to take your time and save more for your budget. If you absolutely can’t wait or afford more, than the basic models like the ones above will suit your needs. Just follow the same rules as you do for any ukulele brand, research all the Oscar Schmidt ukulele reviews and buy only with a return policy. If you get a poor quality control mass produced item, then no problem you can get another. If you don’t know much about tone wood sounds than stick to the original mahogany and koa woods. Of course solid wood is always better, but this will only be on the more expensive models. Don’t forget to put new quality strings on when you get your uke, most players prefer Aquila. The lower end models will take a lot more time to tune so don’t forget and get frustrated!
Even though most purchases are made online these days, if you have a serious problem deciding which brand, then head to a large music store. The largest brick and mortar stores left carry hundreds of ukes. Pick a budget and give them a try, you may even decide to buy the old fashioned way for once. If you have no stores close by than your best bet is too google the exact model numbers and any videos. Use headphones to get any ideas of how each is going to sound and keep notes. Eventually you will have your ukulele picked out. If you want the store with the most experience making music instruments for millions of people over the years, then of course the Oscar Schmidt by Washburn ukulele will be your best bet. Just don’t let the decision become to overwhelming! Ukuleles are fun and can make just about anyone smile, so don’t fuss over buying one. Find one that catches your eye, fits your budget and just click buy, that way you don’t waste any more time as a sad person! 😉