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Santa Cruz OM Grand Brazilian
 
A dream guitar built with stunningly beautiful Brazilian rosewood.
January 11, 2023
 

For the better part of five decades, Santa Cruz Guitars has created some of the best custom steel-string guitars ever made. Rooted in tradition, but also innovative and original, Santa Cruz has a loyal following that appreciate the company’s commitment to tone, playability, and use of the finest materials available. While Santa Cruz offers an assortment of standard models, it’s rare that a guitar leaves the shop without some modification, usually specified by an individual customer or dealer, and occasionally, the company’s builders decide to do something special on spec. I recently had a chance to check out an OM Grand made with spectacular Brazilian rosewood before it was sent off to The Music Loft, in Wilmington, North Carolina. 

Introduced about a decade ago, the OM Grand has a solid place in the Santa Cruz line. Aptly named, the model is essentially a traditional OM with a slightly enlarged body, similar to the M or 0000-size instruments made by Martin and other manufacturers. Standard OM Grands are built with Indian rosewood back and sides and traditional prewar-style appointments, but for this special guitar Santa Cruz substituted a set of stunning Brazilian rosewood estimated to be between 350 and 600 years old. Cut from the stump-area of an old-growth tree, the wood is dark, dense, rich in color, and the back’s lower bout area has dramatic figure. This is the kind of Brazilian rosewood that makes wood freaks weak in the knees, and it’s very rare to see this level (which Santa Cruz calls “Tier 1”) on a contemporary instrument. The Santa Cruz team also used Brazilian rosewood for the fingerboard and bridge, body and fingerboard binding, rosette, and peghead overlay. 

Rather than loading the guitar up with inlay or elaborate appointments, Santa Cruz decided to leave it relatively simple, so as to not to distract from the woods. The guitar has the small 2-mm. dot position markers in the fingerboard that are standard for the model, multi-layer “purfle combo” top purfling, a narrow black strip between the two back halves, and a small teardrop pickguard. For the top, Santa Cruz used gorgeous old-growth European spruce with incredibly even color and beautiful cross-grain patterns. 

The Brazilian rosewood used on the back and sides alone makes this a one-of-a-kind instrument, and its exclusivity is guaranteed by the fact that the combination of materials and features pushes the instrument’s list price to $31,012. We’re deep in dream-guitar territory here, though there are, of course, OM Grands made with less costly materials that start at a base price of $8,430. 

I’ve played several OM Grands over the years (I demoed a 12-string version back in 2019) and have always been impressed with their tone and playability. Naturally, my expectations were raised once I learned about the details of this particular instrument, and indeed, it would be easy to run out of superlatives when describing the guitar. Fundamentally, it has the balanced, even-voiced tonality OMs are known for, but with a little more of everything; especially in terms of bass response and volume. The guitar has incredible singing sustain and the rich, almost reverb-like overtones associated with fine Brazilian rosewood guitars. In the video, I play fingerstyle in DADGAD and CGDGCD tunings, and I strum and play single-notes in standard tuning, and in each setting, the guitar delivers a beautiful, shimmering sound with excellent response and an expansive dynamic range. 

So yes, Santa Cruz has made another instrument that won’t leave my memory any time soon. Guitarists in the market for a top-tier “one guitar that does it all” instrument would do well to check out an OM Grand, and while this particular instrument raised the bar considerably, a large portion of its qualities are available at prices more in line with other high-end flattops. 

SPECS: OM Grand body. Old-growth European spruce top. Hide-glued, Adirondack spruce X-bracing. “Tier 1” Brazilian rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck. Brazilian rosewood fretboard and bridge. 25.375-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Gold Waverly tuning machines. Made in USA. $31,012 as demoed (OM Grand starting price is $8,430). 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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