Instruments & Gear: Fine Lutherie

Preston Thompson 00 Custom

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A 14-fret 00 with a long scale and big voice.

by Teja Gerken
February 12, 2018

Based in Sisters, Oregon, luthier Preston Thompson specializes in refined steel-string flattops that draw inspiration from classic Golden Era instruments. While Thompson has carefully studied most classic vintage designs, his own instruments, which he builds with a team of luthiers, often combine features in ways that weren’t used in the past. For example, on a Thompson 00 custom ordered by Schoenberg Guitars in Tiburon, California, he included a long scale, pyramid bridge, and various appointments that weren’t part of any vintage 00s.

Thompson guitars are available with many different wood options, and this 00 Custom is built with Madagascar rosewood back and sides and an Adirondack spruce top. Both were of exceptional quality, and the Madagascar rosewood has beautiful color and figure that is not unlike high-grade Brazilian rosewood. Martin-style 00’s are traditionally short-scale instruments, and standard Thompson 00’s also have a 24.9-inch scale. But this guitar has a long 25.4-inch scale, and combined with its 1¾-inch nut and string spacing of 2⅜ inches at the saddle, the guitar can be thought of as an OM with a slightly smaller body. Other custom features include a pyramid bridge, “mystic snowflakes” fingerboard inlay, and three-ring abalone rosette. Combined with the guitar’s herringbone purfling, ivoroid binding (on the body and fretboard), and zig-zag back strip, the overall appearance is distinguished without being overly ornate. The 00 is built with forward-shifted, scalloped X-bracing, and the neck has a very slight V shape.

The Thompson 00 Custom is the type of guitar that proves that you don’t need a large body to achieve a big sound. The guitar has an incredibly rich tonal character with a great bass response and excellent balance. Whether played softly or with a bit of force, the guitar has a highly dynamic voice with lots of tonal complexity, making it fun to play in a variety of styles. The long scale may be a factor in the amount of volume the 00 can produce, and it also helps with the string tension when using alternate tunings. The string spacing at the nut and saddle are pretty much ideal for playing fingerstyle, but its well-rounded tonality will make it ideal for numerous styles.

Overall, the Thompson 00 Custom thoughtfully combines specs that wouldn’t have been found on a vintage instrument. The result is a comfortable flattop with a complex tonality that will appeal equally to fans of vintage instruments and more contemporary players.

SPECS: 14-fret 00. Solid Adirondack spruce top with forward-shifted, scalloped X-bracing. Solid Madagascar rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⅜-inch string spacing at the saddle. Nickel Waverly tuning machines. Made in the USA. $7,385 ($6,395 base-price without custom options).


Category: Instruments & Gear

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