A great OM built with Indian rosewood and Adirondack spruce.
by Teja Gerken
March 19, 2018
Guitars based on Martin’s OM (Orchestra Model) design are renowned for their balanced and versatile tone, and are popular with guitarists of many styles. Nearly every maker of vintage-style flattop guitars builds a version of the OM, but luthiers still find ways to add their own touches to this classic design. We recently had a chance to check out an excellent example of a contemporary OM built in a small-shop environment, an OM-EIA from Preston Thompson Guitars of Sisters, Oregon, and generously provided to us by Schoenberg Guitars.
A true OM is built by combining a 000 body with a 14-fret neck, a long 25.4-inch scale, and a neck that measures 1¾ inches at the nut. The Thompson OM-EIA includes all these specs and also features the wide 2⁵/₁₆-inch string spacing at the saddle that is found on original vintage instruments. Preston Thompson guitars are available in many wood combinations, but as indicated by its “EIA” designation, our demo guitar was built with East Indian rosewood back and sides and an Adirondack spruce top. The guitar’s body has herringbone purfling with ivoroid binding, a three-ring rosette, and a zig-zag back strip, and the fingerboard includes a traditional “diamonds and squares” inlay pattern. In other words, the guitar’s materials and appointments are similar to a traditional Martin style-28 design. Like every other Thompson guitar we’ve had a chance to check out, the quality of materials and level of craftsmanship are top notch.
The first thing I noticed when I took the OM-EIA from its case was its light weight—it is one of the lightest non-vintage rosewood OM’s I’ve played. This alone says a lot about Thompson’s desire to recreate the vibe and tone of Golden Age instruments, and I wasn’t disappointed once I began playing the guitar. The OM-EIA is a highly responsive guitar with great tonal depth and complexity. Its slightly V-shaped neck adds a nice vintage feel that matches the guitar’s voice.
Overall, the guitar was able to confidently follow anything I threw at it, from fingerstyle to single-note lines to strumming, all while offering a sound and playability that will give many vintage instruments a run for their money. Anyone in the market for a great OM would do do well to check this one out.
SPECS: 14-fret 000 body. Solid Adirondack spruce top with scalloped, advanced-X Adirondack bracing. Solid Indian rosewood 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. $5,945. pktguitars.com
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