Luthier Preston Thompson (1956–2019) was an expert in the re-creation of vintage Martin designs, and today, the small crew of builders at Thompson Guitars in Sisters, Oregon, continues his legacy. While most Thompson guitars include some updates, merging of specs and features, or original appointments, an inherent vintage character is a major part of every Thompson’s sound and feel. I recently had a chance to check out a great Thompson OM-SMA that perfectly embodies the company’s mission.
The OM-SMA is basically Thompson’s standard OM model with just a couple of custom additions. Built with an Adirondack spruce top and sinker mahogany back and sides, the guitar essentially follows the traditional style-18 design. As with every Thompson I’ve had a chance to check out, the woods on the guitar are of great quality. The top has a bit of bearclaw, which is rare on Adirondack, and the mahogany has a dense grain pattern and rich color. The body includes tortoise-style binding, black-and-white top purfling, and a three-ring rosette. The fingerboard has “old style-18” abalone fingerboard dots, and as a custom feature, there is thin white purfling running along both the bass and treble edge. The other custom option is its tobacco sunburst top finish.
Picking up a guitar that is as well-defined as an OM shouldn’t come with any big surprises, and I found myself right at home with this OM-SMA, which does exactly what a great mahogany OM should do. It has a sparkling voice with excellent high-end clarity and pronounced, but controlled basses, and it has an expansive dynamic range as well as the rich overtone spectrum often found on vintage instruments. The guitar’s 1²³/₃₂-inch wide neck has a slight V-shape, and the string-spacing of 2¼-inches at the saddle gives the guitar a slightly more contemporary feel than that of an OM with the wider bridge spacing typical of vintage models. The guitar was a lot of fun to play fingerstyle, but playing with a pick was also rewarding, and with its bright and clear strumming voice, it would likely excel in accompaniment roles.
Overall, the OM-SMA is another reminder that Preston Thompson’s legacy is in great hands. From the choice of materials, to the craftsmanship, to the tone and playability, this is simply a wonderful OM.
SPECS: 14-fret 000 body. Adirondack spruce top. Sinker mahogany back and sides. Prewar scalloped, advanced-X Adirondack bracing. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1²³/₃₂-inch nut width. 2¼-inch string spacing at the saddle. Nickel Waverly tuning machines. Made in the USA. $6,675 ($5,875 base price). pktguitars.com
Preston Thompson Billy Strings Signature Model
A Brazilian rosewood dreadnought built for the bluegrass star.Read More