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Preston Thompson OM-MM
 
An all-mahogany Orchestra Model with custom inlay.
November 30, 2020

 

Ever since the style was rediscovered in the early 1990s, guitars patterned after Martin’s Orchestra Model (OM) have been offered by countless makers. And while there are exceptions, the majority of these instruments are built with the same tonewoods as the original instruments, which were only made from 1929 to 1934: rosewood or mahogany for the back and sides and a spruce top. With that in mind, it’s always refreshing to see OMs that veer from the original design. I recently had a chance to check out a Preston Thompson OM-MM that does exactly that. 

With mahogany used for its back and sides as well as the top, the OM-MM’s wood combination is the same as Martin’s style-15 and -17 instruments, but this was never used on vintage OM’s (or even 000’s, which have the same body), and even today, the combination is more commonly seen on 0- or 00-size instruments. Naturally, the crew at Thompson chose a beautiful set of mahogany that features light streaking, gorgeous color, and a great match between the top, back, and sides. The guitar mostly sticks to relatively simple style-18 appointments, which include faux-tortoise binding, black-white-black-white purfling on the top, no purfling on the back, and a three-ring rosette. However, the fingerboard’s position markers combine mother-of-pearl with turquoise, and the turquoise theme is continued in the custom art deco–style torch inlay in the peghead overlay. 

Picking the OM-MM up to play, there were no surprises in terms of its feel and playability. It has standard OM dimensions and its neck has what Thompson calls its “Soft V” shape, which places the emphasis on “soft,” as the V is extremely slight, resulting in a neck that’s a great hybrid of vintage and more rounded, contemporary styles. The guitar’s relatively wide string-spacing of 2⁵/₁₆ inches at the saddle made it particularly suitable for playing fingerstyle. Tonally, the guitar had the volume, punch, and balance that OMs are known for, but it also offered the somewhat more controlled dynamic range common to mahogany tops. This gave the guitar a distinctive tonality that, while not completely removed from a typical OM voice, impressed with great sustain, smooth response, and a warm overall quality. 

Overall, the OM-MM is an impressive guitar. Not only does it have a cool sound that sets it apart from other OMs, it’s also a great example of how to effectively customize otherwise fairly simple appointments with a couple of small, but effective visual elements.

SPECS: 14-fret 000 body. Mahogany top, back, and sides. Advanced-X Adirondack bracing. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1 ¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₁₆-inch string spacing at the saddle. Nickel Waverly tuning machines. Custom inlay. Made in the USA. $6,340 ($5,675 base price). pktguitars.com

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    ● Courses
    ● 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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