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Preston Thompson OM Mad/Adi
 
A great Madagascar rosewood OM with some creative additions.
March 29, 2023
 

Luthier Preston Thompson began building guitars in the early 1980s, and he quickly gained a reputation for building great-sounding vintage-style flattops. Preston passed away in 2019, but his legacy remains in the team of builders he assembled at the Preston Thompson Guitars shop in Sisters, Oregon. Specializing in custom instruments based on pre-war classics, Thompson Guitars has a knack for modifying vintage designs in subtle ways, creating one-of-a-kind guitars with a great deal of originality. Most Thompsons are built to order, either for individual customers or for one of the company’s dealers, but now and then an instrument is created by a member of the team who simply wanted to try something different. I recently had a chance to check out one of these Thompsons in the Peghead Nation video studio.

Those familiar with OMs will recognize that this Thompson OM Mad/Adi conforms to the familiar OM recipe in most ways. With its 14-fret 000 body, long scale, and 1¾-inch nut width, the instrument qualifies as a true OM, but a slotted peghead, unusual pickguard, hand-rubbed, satin “Tobacco Gold Teardrop” sunburst finish, and a handful of other design elements give it a refreshingly original character. Like all Thompsons, the guitar has a gorgeous set of woods: beautifully colored and straight-grained Madagascar rosewood back and sides and an evenly grained Adirondack spruce top. Combined with the guitar’s scalloped, pre-war advanced-X bracing (also made from Adirondack spruce), these elements provide excellent groundwork for vintage tonality. Herringbone purfling and slotted diamonds-and-squares fingerboard inlays provide a distinctive style-28 vibe, which is also reflected in the guitar’s rosette. But the sunburst finish, ivoroid fingerboard binding, and black beveled pickguard (with the beveled edge revealing a layer of white plastic underneath the black surface) give it an overall appearance that doesn’t conform to any vintage style. The distinctive slotted peghead is unusual for a 14-fret Martin-style guitar, and it’s complemented by a Brazilian rosewood overlay, Thompson logo, and gold Waverly tuners. 

While the Thompson OM Mad/Adi sets itself apart from most OMs in its appearance, the guitar’s tone has the dynamic range and richness in both the bass and treble that rosewood OMs are famous for, and it handles everything from fingerstyle in DADGAD and Orkney tunings to strumming and single-note lines with grace and confidence. Thompson’s Soft-V neck profile is similar to certain vintage necks (though OMs from the original 1929–1934 era vary significantly), but the overall feel veers more into the contemporary realm. Madagascar rosewood is considered one of the premier alternatives to the Brazilian variety, and this guitar proved the point with a crisp, almost reverb-like response. 

With superb materials, excellent craftsmanship, a cool twist on tradition, and fantastic sound and playability, the Thompson OM Mad/Adi is a wonderful guitar that would be at home in many musical settings. And at the time of this writing, it wasn’t spoken for, so it just might find its way to a dealer near you!

SPECS: 14-fret 000 body. Adirondack spruce top with prewar scalloped, advanced-X Adirondack bracing. Madagascar rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. Evo frets. 25.4-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2 ³/₁₆-inch string spacing at the saddle. Slotted peghead with gold Waverly tuning machines. Made in the USA. $9,160 (base model $8,100). 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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