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A powerful sounding style-18 dreadnought made with “sinker” mahogany and Adirondack spruce.

by Teja Gerken
December 17, 2018

Preston Thompson Guitars builds flattop steel-strings of all sizes, but the company is especially known for its spectacular dreadnoughts. This is in part due to its founder honing his chops on dreadnoughts early in his career, when he became friends with flatpicking virtuoso Charles Sawtelle, for whom he eventually built a style-42 dreadnought (see our demo of that guitar). Today, Preston Thompson Guitars offers dreadnoughts in vintage and more contemporary styles. Peghead Nation banjo instructor Bill Evans recently purchased a mahogany-and-spruce D-SMA model after falling in love with a similar guitar owned by a student. In this video, Bill demonstrates the guitar, along with Peghead Nation Flatpicking Guitar instructor and co-founder Scott Nygaard.

Bill’s guitar is based on Preston Thompson’s standard D-MA model, but instead of conventionally sourced mahogany, the guitar’s back and sides are made of “sinker” mahogany from Belize. The “sinker” designation means that the tree the wood came from was submerged for several decades after being cut. The result is that the wood absorbed various minerals and so is heavier than regular mahogany, even after being cured, and Bill’s D-SMA is slightly darker sounding than most mahogany dreadnoughts. As is standard on Preston Thompson dreadnoughts, the guitar has an Adirondack spruce top, and its appointments stick to the Martin style-18 that is traditional for a mahogany dreadnought.

“What I like about this instrument is that I normally associate more of a trebly sound with a D-18 than a D-28,” Bill explains. “This D-18 [style guitar] that Preston Thompson makes tends to sound halfway between a D-18 and a D-28, and in my conversations with Preston, he told me that this was their goal. I’m hearing a lot of bass, good midrange, and good treble. I’m not much of a lead player, but I bang out rhythm in jam sessions and in my classes, and I just really love this instrument.”

SPECS: 14-fret dreadnought body. Adirondack spruce top with scalloped, advanced-X Adirondack bracing. Sinker mahogany back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1¹¹/₁₆-inch nut width. 2³/₁₆-inch string spacing at the saddle. Nickel Waverly tuning machines. Made in the USA. $5,475. pktguitars.com


Category: Instruments & Gear

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Jan 21, 2019
The guitarist from We Banjo 3 and the fiddle player from Cadillac Sky, Mumford and Sons, and others play an Irish music favorite at Collings headquarters in Austin, Texas.

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