I own a Martin OM-28 and I love it. The guitar has 14 frets to the body which is the norm now days. It has a 25.4″ scale length and 1.75″ nut width with rosewood back and sides and ebony fingerboard. Of course it has a solid spruce top with X-bracing. It sound’s great whether you play with a pick, fingerpicks or bare fingers. But if I had to do it over I think I would choose something else. For one thing, it’s a lot of money. The guitar on the left currently sells (ballpark price) for $2900.
There are better values in acoustic guitars today than at anytime in my life.
Once upon a time low priced guitars were junk, nearly toys. It wasn’t just that many had poorly bolted on necks and laminated (plywood) tops but even the better of the lot were poorly setup with inaccurate neck angles, poorly polished and finished frets, high nuts and high saddles. This has changed. There are now many acoustic guitars available for under $1000, even under $500 which have solid tops and, accurate angles and excellent construction details.
An example of a nice replica of the OM style at about half the price is available from Larrivee (image to right).This is the Larrivee OM-40 Legacy in Rosewood and is about $1425 1. But you can still do better. I’ll show you a few more examples.
The next one is from one of my favorite guitar companies, Eastman. I own one of their jazz guitars (AR371ce). I tried some of their acoustics in guitar shops. The Eastman E20 Orchestra Model is shown on the left. “OM” stands for Orchestra Model. The image is for the sunburst finish but it’s also available in a natural finish. The price isn’t that different from the Larrivee OM. The Eastman OM is about $1200.
Ibanez has added the OM shaped guitar to their line of acoustics (right image). It is a limited edition model (Original OM Model, AVM1NT Limited Edition Artwood). The price is about half of the Eastman making it a very good value. However, according the Ibanez website the nut width is 43 mm putting closer to standard guitars and not the OM specs of 1 3/4″. That’s a minor disappointment for me but you might not care.
So far all of the OM guitars I’ve shown you are replicas of the traditional OM-28 or OM-21 style with rosewood back and sides, ebony fingerboard and solid spruce top. A mahogany version of the guitar is the OM-18. Among current models is a re-issue of the Martin OM-18 Authentic 1933 Acoustic Guitar. It is about $5000. An OM-15 has all mahogany woods. Mahogany is less expensive that rosewood and gives the guitar a different sound. Not worse, just different. The other thing to know is that the martin 000 body shape is the same as an OM. On 14 frets to the body guitars the difference between OM and 000 is nut width and scale length. There is no such thing as a 12 fret to the body OM. Originally, when 000 were made with 12 frets to the body they had a wider nut width.
All of this is leading up to the fact you can save even more money (better value) by choosing a mahogany body guitar in the 000 or OM style from makers other than Martin. The guitar on the left is the Recording King ROH-05 Dirty Thirties Solid Top OOO and sells for about $200. It has a solid spruce top and X-bracing but the back and sides are described as “white wood”. The guitar on the right is the Recording King ROS-06 Classic Series 12th Fret 000 Acoustic has mahogany back and sides and a slotted head for a traditional 000 appearance. It is about $250.
There are so many choices of fine acoustic guitars available to players today the questions is whether spending more that $2000 on one is the best use of your money. But feel free to ignore me. I already have a Martin.