Peghead Nation instructor Bruce Molsky began his musical journey playing fingerpicking guitar, and while he’s more renowned for his fiddle and banjo playing, the guitar continues to be an important part of his musical expression. Bruce owns several vintage guitars that he plays at home and in the studio, but his “road” guitar is a Santa Cruz OM that he purchased new in 1997. “It’s got a nice, even sound,” he says. “It’s a great fingerstyle guitar, it articulates individual notes really well, and it’s also a good chord strummer.”
As a standard Santa Cruz OM, the guitar is built with Indian rosewood back and sides and a spruce top. “It’s a basic, straight, unembellished orchestra model,” Bruce says. The guitar was damaged during air travel and subsequently repaired several times over the years, and eventually Bruce sent the guitar back to Santa Cruz to have the entire neck replaced. Instead of the stylized “SCGC” logo in the peghead that usually comes on OM-style guitars, Bruce asked for the newer, script-style logo that spells out “Santa Cruz” to be used on the new neck. As a performance instrument, the guitar is outfitted with a Fishman Ellipse Matrix Blend pickup and mic system, and Bruce uses D’Addario light-gauge EJ-16 strings.
Although Bruce originally got the guitar primarily to use for playing live, he has also used it on several of his recordings, including Poor Man’s Troubles, Contented Must Be, Soon Be Time, and If It Ain’t Here When I Get Back.
In this video, Bruce demonstrates the guitar in his home studio, playing Joseph Spence’s “Bimini Gal,” and Pete Seeger’s “Living in the Country.”