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The Schireson Brothers Nathaniel Wise Schireson was born June 15th, 1887 in Tauroggen, Russia (now Lithuania). He travelled to Bremen, Germa...

Schireson Brothers - Los Angeles, CA

The Schireson Brothers

Nathaniel Wise Schireson was born June 15th, 1887 in Tauroggen, Russia (now Lithuania). He travelled to Bremen, Germany to board the Kronprinz Wilhelm and arrived in New York on November 11th, 1902 [1]. Jacob Schireson was born September 3rd, 1883 also in Tauroggen. He left for the United States from Hamburg, Germany aboard the Hamburg American Line and arrived October 14th, 1904 [2]. They had seven other siblings.

In 1907, Nathan and Jacob went into business together and opened a jewelry store on 108 Commercial Street in Los Angeles, California. They lived with their two other brothers, Max and Bernard, at 330 Buena Vista [3]. A year later, all four brothers were in business together with Max having experience as a jeweler and Bernard having worked as a bank clerk previously [4]. By 1910, Nathan and Jacob had moved out and found board in the house of Abraham Finkelstein on California Street [5]. They continued to operate a jewelry store.
Spanish advertisement in La Prensa in Texas c.1919
Image Credit:

Around 1914-1915, Nathan and Jacob expanded the Schireson Brothers business in a different direction and opened a musical instrument store at 340 North Main Street [6]. Their brother Max also opened his own store at 367 North Main Street and operated under the name M A Schiresohn (an early spelling of their surname) [7]. I assume it was a fairly friendly sibling rivalry. They also kept the jewelry store operating at 240 North Main Street [8]

1929 ad in the Los Angeles Evening Express
Image Credit:

By 1924, the Schireson Bros music store had three locations at 349 North Main, 111 South Main, and 112 West 3rd Streets [9]

Schireson Brothers advertisement (left) behind the St Elmo Hotel C.1930
Image Credit: University of Southern California Digital Library

The Resonator Patents

On October 29th, 1931, Nathan filed for patent on a guitar with an amplifying unit inlaid into its top. Sufficient volume had always been an issue for professional musicians and the Schireson brothers believed they  had an innovation ready for market. The amplifier (or 'concavo-convex member' as he calls it) was to be made from thin aluminum formed into the shape of a bowl to reflect the sound coming from the instrument. The bridge of the guitar actually sits atop a wooden disc which rests on the rim of the aluminum bowl. Holes are drilled in the wooden disc as well as decorative holes in the top of the guitar in order to allow the sound to pass through.

A year later, Nathan had expanded on his original design to forgo the wooden plate and instead mount the bridge directly to the bottom of the aluminum resonating bowl. Anticipating the additional stress placed on the bowl, he designed a wider ring to sit under the lip of the aluminum bowl.

Schireson cone on a Kay-made tenor resonator
The patent number stamped on the cover plate

Legal Trouble

In 1937, Nathan and Jacob Schireson were brought to court by George D. Beauchamp, of the National String Instrument Corporation, who claimed that their design infringed on his patented (US1,808,756) resonator design from March of 1929 [10].
Image Credit: Google Patents

The courts found that Beauchamp's design was similar to three previous American patents "Notable among such prior patents are three to J. Dopyera, No. 1,741,453 granted December 31, 1929; No. 1,750,881 granted March 18, 1930; and No. 1,762,617 granted June 10, 1930, each for stringed musical instruments.". John Dopyera and George Beauchamp were business partners and this likely didn't have an effect on the case but was used to determine whether Beauchamp's patent was truly for a new invention [10]. 

"It is one thing to hint at or suggest the solution of a problem that advances an art, and quite another thing to solve the problem by producing an instrumentality that takes the forward step. Dopyera did the former; Beauchamp accomplished the latter." [10]

While John Dopyera set up the 'framework' for building a resonator, the court decided that Beauchamp had accomplished it and met the standards for a new invention. His invention had found commercial success with, at the time, a reported 37,000 instruments sold using his design [10]. After establishing the validity of George's patent, the court reviewed the claims of his patent as they pertained to the Schireson Brother's invention.

"The evidence shows that the defendants have commercially made and sold three types of metallic resonators for operation in combination with guitars which they also sell at their place of business in Los Angeles, Cal. The defendents' devices are marked in the record as plaintiffs' Exhibits 1, 2, and 3 respectively and have been correspondingly referred to in this suit as small bridge type, large bridge type, and grid type.

The only difference in structural aspect between the two so-called bridge types is in the diameters of bridges and the positioning of the bridge to the concavo-convex diaphragm or resonator. In the case of the small bridge type the fastening of the bridge to the resonator is by means of a screw which indents and extends through a washer and the resonator into a block. The larger type does not employ this screw and washer construction. With this dissimilarity, these two types may be described thus: "A concavo-convex thin metal resonator, presenting substantially spherical surfaces, provided with a bead, and a flat surface inwardly adjacent thereto, having a central annular bridge receiving portion formed by indenting a central part of the cone on which portion a bridge of substantial diameter is mounted, forming annular engagement therewith."

The so-called grid type also includes a thin metallic concavo-convex resonator presenting substantially spherical surfaces, provided with a bead and a flat surface inwardly adjacent thereto, above which is positioned a circular grid carrying the bridge, reinforced by transverse cleats or ribs the ends of which rest on the flat surface mentioned at intervals around the circumference of the grid. All of the resonators of defendants' construction are mounted in the guitar with bases or mouths upward instead of downwardly as shown in the patent in suit." [10]

The Small Bridge Type model appears to be referring to the second of Schireson's patents while the Large Bridge Type is unknown to me and the Grid Type is likely referring to some type of spider bridge design.

"The only claims that remain in issue in this suit that have not been discussed in relation to the structures of the defendants are claims 1, 3, and 4 of the patent in suit. In view of the findings and conclusions of infringement by defendants of claims 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 of the Beauchamp patent, No. 1,808,756, it is considered unnecessary to discuss these three remaining claims. Suffice it to state that each of these claims contains obscure verbiage that may render these claims too uncertain upon which to predicate infringement thereof by the defendants under the record here presented. We conclude that it is not necessary for this court to pass upon any of these three claims at this time, other than to say that neither a "cover plate" feature in claim 3 nor a "transverse guard member" mentioned in claim 4 amount to invention." [10]

The grand conclusion: Nathan and Jacob Schireson had infringed upon George Beauchamp's patent and were liable for damages


Schireson resonators are relatively uncommon today due to their short production. Based off the date of the patent and the lawsuit, I'd estimate years of production to be 1931 to 1937. How many instruments they produced is also unclear, I saw a claim of 25 for the Hollywood instruments but I couldn't find any evidence to back that up. 


Interestingly, the Kay Musical Instrument Company of Chicago used Schireson resonating cones. These Kay resonators appeared for a very short time in the 1930s and are usually attached to laminate maple bodies with poplar necks and pearloid faceplates. 

I've owned two (one S. S. Maxwell tenor and an Artist Deluxe six-string). Both were in a sorry state with the S. S. Maxwell missing most of its fingerboard and the Artist Deluxe having an aluminum pie tin where the Schireson cone used to be.

S. S. Maxwell tenor resonator made by Kay and using a Schireson cone

Hilariously, Kay sold those exact same bodies (minus the hardware) to Beauchamp and Dopyera for use on the National El Trovador resonators. I wonder if someone at Kay accidentally let slip some information they shouldn't have thus bringing down the Schireson Bros...


Hollywood was the brand name used for the Schireson Brothers' own line of instruments. Their resonator guitars can be identified by the "H" shaped f-holes.
"Curly Brooks" labelled Schireson resonator
Image Credit: - antique fretted instruments



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