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Preston Thompson 0-14 SMM
 
A contemporary take on an all-mahogany classic.
September 13, 2023
 

When contemporary builders create instruments inspired by vintage designs, the emphasis is usually on the most coveted models originally produced by Martin or Gibson. Oregon’s Thompson Guitars is known for their interpretations of Golden Era dreadnoughts and OMs that often include elements that were unavailable when those instruments were originally made. It is less common to see custom builders interpret guitars (like the Martin 0-17) that were once thought of as lower-end instruments but are now highly regarded and sought after by many players. But prices for vintage specimens in good condition have soared in recent years, so it’s no surprise that small-shop makers have taken notice. Thompson recently sent us an all-mahogany 0-14SMM, an 0-size, 14-fret instrument based on the 0-17.

At first glance, the 0-14SMM follows the familiar 0-17 formula. But a closer inspection reveals several modifications to the recipe. Most significantly, the 0-14SMM is built with a long 25.4-inch scale (14-fret 0s typically have a short scale), and its neck and string spacing are wider than on most vintage examples. Thompson also chose to build the guitar with a slotted peghead, rather than the solid design typically used on 14-fret models, as well as a beautiful pyramid bridge. There are also some very cool but more subtle design choices, including mahogany binding and a mahogany rosette, both of which, because of clever orientation of the grain patterns, are off-set from the mahogany used for the top, back, and sides. Thompson dipped into its stash of “sinker” mahogany (sourced from logs that had been submerged for a long period of time) for this guitar, and the wood has some of the most attractive grain and coloring I’ve seen on a contemporary mahogany guitar. The guitar’s appearance is further enhanced by a gorgeous hand-rubbed satin finish.

All-mahogany guitars have a reputation for a certain tonal sweetness and naturally compressed sound. The Thompson 0-14SMM delivers in a major way on the sweetness, with a delicious warmth and wonderful “roundness” to each note that makes the guitar incredibly fun to play. But it also has a wider dynamic range than similar vintage guitars I’ve played. Perhaps due to its long scale, the guitar has great clarity when pushed, and it performs well in dropped tunings. With its complex, yet controlled tonal character, I could see this instrument excelling in both accompaniment and solo roles.

The 0-14SMM is another great example of Thompson’s ability to capture bona-fide vintage character infused with a splash of originality in both sound and looks. Combined with the company’s well-established attention to detail and top-shelf materials, this little mahogany guitar is a real winner!

SPECS: 14-fret 0 body. Sinker mahogany top with prewar, scalloped, advanced-X Adirondack bracing. Sinker mahogany back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale.  1¾-inch nut width. 2 ⁵/₁₆-inch string spacing at the saddle. Slotted peghead with nickel Waverly tuning machines with ebony knobs. Made in the USA. $7,185 (base model $5,900). pktguitars.com

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    ● Courses
    ● Live Workshops
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
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