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Preston Thompson D-SMA
 
A great dreadnought made with “sinker” mahogany and Adirondack spruce and featuring a custom sunburst finish.
December 27, 2021
 

While rosewood dreadnoughts often get more attention, many experienced players prefer the clarity and definition of a guitar with mahogany back and sides. Luthiers and manufacturers no longer automatically pair rosewood guitars with more elaborate appointments. By choosing woods for their tonal qualities, rather than their price (which, in the case of mahogany, has risen considerably in recent years), builders have greater freedom to combine woods and appointments in ways that the parameters of traditional models wouldn’t have allowed. Thompson Guitars has mastered the art of building refined flattops, and the company’s mahogany dreadnoughts have become popular with many discerning players. We checked out a Thompson D-SMA that belongs to Peghead Nation instructor Bill Evans back in 2018, and recently, Peghead Nation co-founder and flatpicking instructor Scott Nygaard and I had a chance to play another, slightly customized version of the model in our studio. 

Featuring a beautiful “Old Red Vintage” sunburst top finish, the D-SMA we received has a striking look. Thompson has a great stash of incredible “sinker” mahogany (wood that was submerged for decades after being cut), and the company’s builders selected a gorgeous set for this guitar. The guitar has an Adirondack spruce top with even, straight grain. Tortoise-style body binding is matched with a custom tortoise peghead overlay, and the guitar has “old 18-style” fingerboard dots and an 18-style three-ring rosette. Other specs include prewar, scalloped top bracing, a neck width of 1¾ inches at the nut, and string spacing of 2⁵/₁₆ inches at the saddle, dimensions that are on the wider side of the spectrum for a dreadnought. 

Taking the D-SMA from its Harptone case, I was impressed with its incredibly light weight. The guitar’s neck has Thompson’s soft-V shape, and combined with a great setup, this led to great playability. Light construction often leads to a very “alive” tonality, and this guitar is no exception. It also had the clarity and definition often found on mahogany dreadnoughts. No woofy basses or cloudy midrange here; this is a guitar for players who appreciate balance and dynamics. This was especially evident when Scott flatpicked the guitar, but the instrument is also responsive enough at the lower end of its dynamic range to make it sound great when played fingerstyle. 

Like every Thompson we’ve had a chance to check out, this D-SMA is a wonderful guitar. Dressed to kill, it delivers delicious dreadnought tones and great playability, making it a top contender on the contemporary flattop scene. 

SPECS: 14-fret dreadnought body. Adirondack spruce top with scalloped, advanced-X Adirondack bracing. Sinker mahogany back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₁₆-inch string spacing at the saddle. Nickel Waverly tuning machines. Made in the USA. $6,760 as shown ($5,975 base price). pktguitars.com

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© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com
 
 
    ● 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
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com