Documenting history as well as my experiences with repairing and restoring vintage guitars.

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 About Snedeker Manufacturing Co was a Chicago manufacturer of guitars and banjos founded by Orlando W Snedeker. Orlando W. Snedeker was bor...

Snedeker Mfg Co - Chicago, Illinois


Snedeker Manufacturing Co was a Chicago manufacturer of guitars and banjos founded by Orlando W Snedeker. Orlando W. Snedeker was born July 31, 1865 to Washington Bennepe Snedeker and Jane H Maddock in Winchester, Indiana. His life is difficult to track via census records but we know that he married Lillie Vorhees, had no children, and that he died April 11th, 1913 in Chicago, Illinois [12].

I haven't found any references to surviving examples of Snedeker instruments. However, the 1904 note that they "finished up to 300 guitars daily" provides a very generous number of their production. Taking a more conservative estimate of 200 guitars times 261 days in a five-day work week yields approximately 52,200 guitars for that year. This is speculation based on the very limited information available but in their 11 year run they employed an average of 50-70 people and had a substantial financial backing for the era so such production numbers aren't outrageous. 

I would estimate they produced around half a million instruments


  • 1894 - Incorporated in Winchester, Indiana [13]
    • "It is their intention to manufacture high grade American guitars"
    • O. N. 'Lon' Snedeker
    • W. L. Hadley
  • 1895 - Move to Muncie, Indiana [14][15]
    • They began building a larger factory in Muncie
    • "They will employ 50 hands"
  • 1897 - Incorporated in Chicago[10]
    • Capital Stock: $10,000
    • Incorporators
      • O. W. Snedeker
      • H. Diestel
      • Frank A. Schmidt
  • 1898
Sale of moving equipment?
  • 1899 - Tuning Machine Patent filed in Chicago, Illinois
  • 1899 - Located at 92 Ohio Street [5]
    • Employed 80 people
  • 1901 - Located at 3-17 E Huron Street [7]
    • Employed 70 people
  • 1902 - Located at 110 Weed Street [2]
    • Employed 41 People
    • Administration [4]
      • President -  O. W. Snedeker
      • Secretary - F. A. Schmidt
  • 1904 
    • "their main output is guitars, finishing up to 300 daily" [8]
    • A new line of banjos was added under J. B. Schall 
  • 1905 - Filed for Bankruptcy 
    • Their 30,000 square foot factory at 110-122 Weed St employed 50 people [6]
    • Platt P. Gibbs was appointed as an appraiser of the company's assets [11]
    • The Arion Manufacturing Company purchased the assets of Snedeker and set up their factory to produce guitars, mandolins, and banjos [9]
By 1910 their block of Weed Street had been surveyed by the Sanborn Map Company but Snedeker no longer was there. The block to the north was occupied by the Bush & Gerts Piano Company and to the south by the August Hausske & Co and Continental Mfg Co furniture factories [3]. The streets were renumbered in 1909 but the exact location of their last factory is at 861 W Weed Street in Chicago.

Snedeker was involved in two small legal cases which sometimes can provide information about a company that isn't otherwise made public. Unfortunately these cases (196252, 230745) are too old to find online




US Patent 637756



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