Stella (guitar)

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Stella guitar in case
Stella parlour guitar in 1930s

Stella was an American guitar brand owned by the Oscar Schmidt Company. It was founded around 1899.[1] The Stella brand consists of low and mid-level stringed instruments.

Stella guitars were played by notable artists, including Robert Johnson, Lead Belly, Charlie Patton, Doc Watson and Willie Nelson[2] who learned to play on one.[citation needed] Kurt Cobain of Nirvana played an acoustic Stella on the recording of the song Polly, from the Nevermind album, and Mason Williams with Classical Gas.

Stella was acquired by the Harmony Company in 1939. The brand was dissolved in 1974, and was later reintroduced by M.B.T. International, which is the corporate parent of the Harmony Company.[citation needed]


Stella was one of several musical instrument brands made in Jersey City, New Jersey, by the Oscar Schmidt Company. Other Schmidt brands included "Sovereign" and "La Scala". The company produced low and mid-level stringed instruments such as guitars, mandolins, banjos and autoharps.

The company thrived during the first quarter of the 20th century, producing many thousands of instruments. In 1920, the company was said to be the world's largest manufacturer of stringed instruments. Stella instruments were noted for their good tone and relatively low price. Top of the line Stella and Sovereign guitars cost a fraction of the lowest end Gibson or C. F. Martin instruments.

Sovereign guitar - Syd Barret's first guitar

After struggling through the Great Depression, the company sold their fretted instrument division in the late 1930s, but continued to make autoharps. Schmidt's Stella, Sovereign and La Scala brands were acquired by the Harmony Company of Chicago, Illinois in 1939. Harmony went on to produce student grade Stella instruments, as well as mid-level Sovereign guitars and banjos.

Notable users[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vintage Guitar Price Guide
  2. ^ "Trigger". Texas Monthly. 2013-01-21. Retrieved 2017-03-22.
  3. ^