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Santa Cruz OO Custom
 
A fabulous 12-fret cutaway built with koa and Adirondack spruce.
May 29, 2024
 

Santa Cruz Guitars is legendary in the guitar world for its creative interpretations of classic designs, and the collective experience of the company’s small team of luthiers is among the very highest in the business. Besides creating its own sonic signature over five decades of guitar making, Santa Cruz was one of the first companies to introduce woods such as Hawaiian koa that larger companies weren’t using back in the 1970s. Santa Cruz still has a wood stash that would make any guitar lover weak in the knees, a fact that was ably demonstrated by the custom OO the company sent us to check out. In this video, I demonstrate the guitar in the Peghead Nation studio.

Even though Santa Cruz has standard models, the majority of the company’s instruments are built with those models as jumping-off points for customizations. This OO is based on a Martin-style 12-fret 00, but the variations are extensive. Instead of Indian rosewood and Sitka spruce, the guitar has gorgeous, high-grade flamed koa back and sides and an Adirondack spruce top. It also has a cutaway, a solid (rather than slotted) peghead, a sunburst finish on the top, and hot hide-glue construction. The ivoroid binding, herringbone purfling, small fingerboard dots, and Santa Cruz logo inlay at the 12th fret are essentially the same as those found on the standard model. Given the overall level of craftsmanship displayed on today’s small-shop and luthier-made guitars, it’s easy to become jaded, but the folks at Santa Cruz continue to raise the bar: the fit and finish and overall attention to detail on this 00 are among the very best I’ve ever seen. 

The 00 Custom is a stunning looking guitar, and the combination of a 12-fret body with a cutaway and a solid peghead is among the less commonly seen approaches to steel-string design. So, my expectations were ramped up when I started playing the guitar, and I’m happy to report that I wasn’t disappointed. I was immediately drawn in by the instrument’s incredibly quick response and ability to convey every detail of my playing, delivering tonal complexity and lush overtones even with a soft touch. The guitar’s strong midrange gives it a lovely presence, and its bass is controlled, yet rich, yielding a sophisticated overall voice. The guitar’s cutaway allows full access to the 15th fret and puts higher frets easily within reach, eliminating the limited upper-fret access that keeps some players from playing 12-fret instruments. With its 1¾-inch nut width and soft-V profile, the neck contributes to the guitar’s more-contemporary-than-vintage vibe, and the combination of the guitar’s short scale, Santa Cruz Parabolic strings, and PLEK setup results in buttery-smooth playability.

Santa Cruz is not only one of the oldest makers of individually crafted custom steel-string guitars, the California outfit also continues to keep company among the very best in the field. This OO Custom is a fabulous example of the benefits of fusing traditional and contemporary ideas, resulting in an instrument that is as fun to look at as it is to play. 

SPECS: 12-fret 00 body with cutaway. Adirondack spruce top with Adirondack X-bracing. Flamed koa back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony rosewood fretboard and bridge. 24.75-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Solid peghead with koa overlay and Waverly tuning machines. Made in USA. $14,062. santacruzguitar.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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