The Oahu De Luxe Jumbo is GUARANTEED to be the finest and best guitar ever manufactured by anyone.
-Marketing hype from Oahu's late 1930s catalogs
Though prone to hyperbole, in this instance, Oahu wasn't exaggerating.
The 68K is a first rate steel guitar endowed with a loud, bright tone sparked by exceptionally enduring trebles.
Quote from Jonathan Kellerman's excellent book With Strings Attached
A circa 1936-37 Oahu Deluxe Jumbo
(the "additional inlay" triangles and fret numbers are just drawn on)
Specs of the guitar above:
15 3/4" lower bout, 11 1/4" upper bout, 8 7/8" hips, 19 7/8" body length
1 3/4" nut, 25.4" scale length, 2 3/16" string spacing at bridge
4" body depth at endpin, 3 3/8" at neck joint
5 1/2" long bridge that's 1 1/16" wide... soundhole is 3 3/4"
Guitar is ladder braced. Sides are solid wood (and thick). No knowledge about the back.
This website is a work in progress, created to help increase the knowledge about Oahu Deluxe Jumbos of the late 1930s.
Guitar historian Michael Wright documented a bit of the history of Oahu Deluxe Jumbos in his book, Guitar Stories 2:
"The 1933 Oahu style No. 60 De Luxe Jumbo had a body made "of the finest Hawaiian curly maple" (whatever that is), with the symmetrical headstock and a bound, vine-inlaid fingerboard encrusted with "the very best Waikiki polished genuine pearl." This beauty cost $158, $2 less than a 1933 Martin 00-45 ($160)."
"By 1938 the Oahu De Luxe Jumbo had acquired a 14-fret neck, slightly fancier headstock inlays, and a very cool double row of triangular position markers along either edge of the fingerboard, in addition to the fancy vine inlay. The price was still $158!"
"The Oahu De Luxe Jumbo was offered at least until 1938. No longer "Hawaiian curly maple," by 1936 the De Luxe was now made of "the finest African rosewood" with a spruce top. The fingerboard still has an elaborate vinte inlay, with smaller pearl inlays on the "new design" symmetrical head." Top trim and rosette are also pearl inlaid. The neck joined the body at the 12th fret. This was available as the Style 68K Square Neck for Hawaiian style and Style 69K Round Neck for Spanish style."
The 69K model is a 14-fret version of the 12-fret 68K. Here's an example ca.1936-37, dated here because of it's vine inlay without triangles and and the earlier flat bridge.
Photo from www.umgf.com
The first version of Deluxe Jumbos starting in 1933 had smaller bodies
Dealer Eric Schoenberg (www.om28.com) says of one in his inventory: "This one is a maple Nick Lucas style, 14 1/2" bottom bout, 4 5/8" deep, scale length 25 5/8", with a pearl border, natural top and sunburst back & sides... These single X-braced boxes tend to be some of the best sounding flat tops."
1933 and 1935 catalog pics are identical:
1936, the body style changes, and the bridge changes to more of a Gibson-style bridge. (This headstock has not been seen before)
1938, the body style is the same, but pearl triangles are added on the fingerboard and a straight belly bridge with pearl dots is shown:
1940... appears to be the same as 1938:
It appears the "jumbo" shaped Deluxe Jumbo existed from about 1936 to 1940.
The early "Oahu" logo on the headstock was less ornate (but more readable!)
Here's the later Oahu logo, that's a bit more ornate (notice the tuners tops, these tuners were patented by Oahu):
Here's an earlier fretboard, without the later triangles:
Here's a later fretboard, with the triangles:
This is believed to be an original 1936 bridge:
A later 1938 bridge (photo taken from an angle):
Original tuning pegs on a Deluxe Jumbo from www.Elderly.com... These tuners were patented in January of 1936 by Oahu's founder
OAHU MODEL 68K DE LUXE JUMBO HAWAIIAN GUITAR (1930's)
VG-EC except several repaired top cracks, 15-3/4" lower bout, ladder-braced spruce top, rosewood back and sides, 12-fret square mahogany neck, ivoroid-bound 19-fret ebony fingerboard with pearl triangle and abalone vine inlays, 1-13/16" nut width, 25-1/2" scale, ebony pin bridge with pearl dot inlays, ivoroid-bound body, abalone rosette and trop trim, rosewood headstock overlay with Oahu logo and other fancy pearl inlays, nickel open-geared tuners with butterbean buttons, made for Oahu by Kay (or perhaps by Regal), on consignment, with OHSC (purple lining)
Back photo of a 1936 Jumbo Deluxe
The back wood of Deluxe Jumbos is believed to be East Indian Rosewood...
Contrary to the catalog calling it African Rosewood, or the common belief that it's Brazilian Rosewood, the latest belief is that it is East Indian Rosewood. It appears by experts to be from the same rosewood that Gibson used on its legendary acoustics (like the Advanced Jumbo and SJs) from roughly 1936 through World War II. Other Chicago builders used this rosewood earlier than 1936.
The post-1935 Deluxe Jumbos are typically ladder braced. This is the inside of a lower grade Oahu jumbo. Pics inside an actual 68k should be coming soon.
Let us know any suggestions or additions you have by emailing us at info @ oahuguitars.com