Instruments & Gear: Fine Lutherie

Preston Thompson 00-14MA Sunburst

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A custom long-scale 00 built with mahogany and Adirondack spruce.

by Teja Gerken
July 06, 2020

Even though most Preston Thompson guitars are based on vintage steel-string guitars, many of the company’s instruments are not carbon copies of any particular model. Instead, Thompson frequently takes a “mix-and-match” approach to specs and features, while also employing a creative mix of original ideas. I recently had a chance to spend some time with a guitar that perfectly embodied this: a 14-fret 00 custom ordered by flatpicker extraordinaire Chris Luquette.

 

With its traditional 14-fret 00 body, squared-off peghead, and vintage-style sunburst finish, it’s no secret that a classic Martin served as the 00-14MA’s inspiration. But a closer look reveals a fingerboard bound in white with no inlay (though there are position dots on the side), a modern closed-slot bridge, a figured ebony peghead overlay, and other details that wouldn’t be found on a vintage instrument. The guitar also has a long scale instead of the short scale found on more traditional 00s, and its neck and string-spacing dimensions are slightly wider than vintage specs. One cool aspect of these design and aesthetic choices is that they match Chris’s signature model dreadnought, despite the two guitars’ different bodies and tonewoods (check out Chris’s demo of his signature model D-BA-CRL dreadnought, shot when he visited the Peghead Nation studio last fall). Thompson’s ability to pull this off so elegantly says a lot about the company’s ability to conceive of and realize a custom guitar. The woods used on the 00-14MA are of excellent quality; the Adirondack spruce features narrower grain than is often seen on this species, and the mahogany has even coloring and beautiful grain patterns.

 

The 00-14MA is the second long-scale 00 Thompson I’ve had a chance to play (check out our demo of a 00 Custom with Madagascar rosewood back and sides), and again, the instrument impressed with power, punch, and volume that goes beyond expectations for a guitar of this size. The guitar developed a beautifully complex voice when played fingerstyle in DADGAD tuning, yet it maintained a coherent voice when pushed with a flatpick. Its general character has an overtone-rich vintage quality, but there is also a clarity and balance sometimes missing from older guitars. Overall, this is a guitar that would appeal to fans of traditional 00s who are looking for a little more of everything, as well as to players used to more contemporary instruments who want a solid dose of classic flattop vibe. As sad as I was to have to send this guitar off to Chris Luquette, I can’t wait to hear what he will do with it!

 

SPECS: 14-fret 00 body. Adirondack spruce top with advanced-X Adirondack bracing. Mahogany back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₁₆-inch string spacing at the saddle. Nickel Waverly tuning machines. Made in the USA. $6,325 (base model $5,200). pktguitars.com


Category: Instruments & Gear

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