Great-sounding affordable small-body guitar with vintage vibe.
by Teja Gerken
October 31, 2016
Available exclusively through Michigan’s Elderly Instruments, the Farida OT-22 is an affordable guitar inspired by vintage small-bodies. Farida may be a new name to American guitar players, but the Chinese-made brand was founded more than 40 years ago. Farida guitars are popular in Asia and Europe and the brand’s parent company has been building instruments for some American guitar companies since 1995. Elderly is now Farida’s US distributor, and has commissioned an exclusive line called the Old Town series, which includes the OT-22 we had a chance to check out.
Built with a solid Sitka spruce top and laminated mahogany back and sides, the OT-22’s mid-size body, with a sunburst finish, simple appointments, and rectangular bridge, has an outline more like that of a classical guitar than Gibson’s L shape or Martin’s 00 or 000, and its 14-fret neck has a half-round profile. The guitar has a short scale and 1¹¹/₁₆-inch nut width and its fingerboard and bridge are made of sonokelin (Asian rosewood). According to Elderly’s Joe Konkoly, the guitar has Martin-style scalloped X-bracing (similar vintage models often had ladder bracing or non-scalloped X patterns), and the top and back are thicknessed for optimal tone, rather than just replicating vintage specs. The guitar’s craftsmanship, fit and finish, and execution of details is impressive, at a level that would be acceptable on instruments costing far more.
With its short scale and low action, the OT-22 is a lot of fun to play, and it has a complex, rich, and balanced voice. The OT-22 is the least expensive model in the Old Town series, which includes instruments with sonokelin (Asian rosewood) or solid mahogany back and sides, and anyone in the market for a great value on a flattop steel-string should check them out.
SPECS: Concert-size body. Solid Sitka spruce top. Mahogany back and sides. Sonokelin fingerboard and bridge. 24.7-inch scale. 1¹¹/₁₆-inch nut width. Three-on-a-strip, open-gear tuning machines. Made in China. $379. Elderly.com
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