The new addition to Martin’s Standard Series has a great combination of vintage tone and contemporary feel.
by Teja Gerken
December 03, 2018
First introduced in 1929, the OM (Orchestra Model) was Martin’s first guitar with a 14-fret neck joint, and its popularity led to Martin switching most other models from 12-fret necks to 14-fret necks around 1934. Prized for its versatility, the OM has won fans among players of many styles, and its combination of a 000-size body, long scale, and relatively wide neck and string-spacing gives it a distinctive feel and tonality. In recent years, Martin has offered dozens of variations on the OM theme, from vintage-inspired models to more contemporary versions. As it has done with several of models in its “reimagined” Standard Series, the company streamlined its OM line earlier this year, and we recently had a chance to check out the latest Standard Series OM-28.
Like other guitars in the Standard Series, the OM-28 combines some of the most popular features of recent OMs. Of course, the fundamentals of a style-28 OM are all here. The guitar has a Sitka spruce top and Indian rosewood back and sides, all of which were of high quality on our demo guitar. It also has the standard long scale and neck width of 1¾ inches at the nut. But while it has the scalloped bracing, herringbone purfling, and open-gear tuning machines that you’d expect on a vintage reissue, it also includes Martin’s contemporary-feeling High Performance Taper neck, string-spacing at the saddle of 2⁵/₃₂ inches (narrower than vintage OMs, but wider than some modern steel-strings), and a bridge with a drop-in saddle.
The guitar has a quintessential rosewood-OM voice: it’s balanced, but with more bottom-end and volume than you might expect from a mid-size guitar, and it’s capable of delivering a wide range of tonal colors, depending on how it’s played. With its modified low-oval profile, the High Performance Taper neck will appeal to players who find vintage-style necks too chunky or dislike the V-shape profile of some reissues. I enjoyed playing fingerstyle on the guitar, and it also sounded great when Peghead Nation’s Scott Nygaard flatpicked it.
Overall, the new OM-28 is a wonderful contemporary OM that fuses the best of the vintage and modern worlds to create a great-sounding and -feeling instrument.
SPECS: 14-fret 000 body. Solid Sitka spruce top with scalloped X-bracing. Solid Indian rosewood back and sides. Hardwood neck with dovetail joint. Ebony fretboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₃₂-inch string spacing at the saddle. Open-back Schaller tuning machines. Made in the USA. $3,799 (list). Martinguitar.com
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Comments and Discussion
Glad you're enjoying your OM-28! The piece I'm playing in the intro is a section of Béla Fleck's "Travis," which he recorded on the "Uncommon Ritual" album. It's in DADGAD tuning.
I'm playing a Swedish waltz called "Metaren" or "The Lazy Fisherman" written by Ale Moller.
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