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A contemporary OM with a cedar top and walnut back and sides.

by Teja Gerken
April 22, 2019

The Santa Cruz Guitar Company has long been at the vanguard of OM building. Basing the guitars on Martin’s classic design, Santa Cruz often uses the vintage OM blueprint for interpretations that include wood choices and appointments not found on older OMs or copies of those instruments. We recently had a chance to check out a custom Santa Cruz OM built with walnut back and sides and a cedar top.

Santa Cruz is known for its meticulous craftsmanship, and this guitar shows why: its perfect fit and finish, exact miters, and beautifully matched materials stands up to even the most exacting scrutiny. The use of walnut (the tonal qualities of which are sometimes described as combining qualities of mahogany and rosewood) for the back and sides reflects the current interest in non-endangered, non-tropical woods, and on this guitar, the wood is also incredibly beautiful, offering attractive figure and rich coloring. The cedar top is made from reclaimed Alaskan blond cedar, which has such a light color that I initially thought it was spruce. Santa Cruz matched the back and sides wood with a walnut rosette and peghead veneer, further enhancing the guitar’s contemporary appearance, and the guitar has Santa Cruz’s typical small dot position markers in the fingerboard and white binding on the fingerboard and body.

Most OMs are built with spruce tops, so I was curious how cedar would sound with this otherwise traditional design. Cedar is known for its quick response and ability to deliver complex tone with a light touch, and this guitar shifts the typical OM dynamic range toward the more delicate spectrum, giving it a particularly warm and full sound when playing fingerstyle. But as Peghead Nation’s Scott Nygaard demonstrates, the guitar also sounds great with a pick, offering great balance, note-definition, and volume.

With its great tone, understated appearance, and non-endangered woods, this custom OM is a fine example of Santa Cruz’s ability to create fresh interpretations of classic designs. It’s a guitar that will appeal to fans of classic OMs as well as players drawn toward more contemporary instruments.

SPECS: OM-size body. Blond cedar spruce top. Walnut back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fretboard and bridge. 25.375-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Waverly tuning machines. Made in USA. $9,150. santacruzguitar.com


Category: Instruments & Gear

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