Posted by: kubiakl | April 15, 2011

A New Family Member

Tonight I brought home a new addition to my family:  a Martin OMC-1E.

I’m coming up on a milestone birthday and decided it was time to go ahead and buy a Martin.  I’ve drooled over their OM style guitars for a while, and when they started producing the all-wood 1 series I was ecstatic.  An all-wood Martin in my price range, with a satin finish?  Hells yeah.

But in the past month I noticed that this model had dropped off the Martin website.  Instead, the 1 series now was the OM-1GT, a gloss top version.

WTF?  When I tried out some Martins the other day with gloss tops I was less than impressed – you can (as I repeatedly said to my friend) “hear the lacquer”.  It compresses the tone and gives it an edge I don’t care for.  Even the Eric Clapton signature Martin OM didn’t sound right to me, thanks to the glossy finish.

Look, I realize that some people want a shiny finish.  Others think that satin finishes don’t hold up well over time (and it’s true, to a degree – the oils from your skin will affect the finish).  But I’ve had my satin finish Epiphone Masterbilt for years and it’s still a looker.  And who cares how good a guitar looks if it sounds… well, like lacquer?

So I realized that if I wanted a new Martin with a satin finish I had to pull the trigger and purchase one.  Thanks to a generous gift card Christmas I was able to head to the North Austin Guitar Center and buy one.  Sure, I still spent a little time playing it just to make sure, but I knew before I went in there that it was coming home with me.  The other option was the non-cutaway OM-1 without electronics, but I like the sound my friend’s oox1 gets from the Fishman system.  His guitar is actually my favorite slide guitar (even beating out the resonator), because it gives a really raw tone when using a brass slide.

My gear setup has expanded quite a bit lately – the Jet City amp, the Telecaster project, and now this.  It rounds out my acoustic gear nicely – there’s the dreadnought with a nice full woody sound, and now an OM with a great woody tone that has more midrange emphasis.  The wider string spacing of the OM (the 000 is the same body shape with standard string spacing) makes it great for fingerstyle guitar but I found great tone from strumming it as well.

So happy early birthday to me!  Right now it’s sitting on my couch as the lemon oil soaks into the fretboard a little.  Which brings me to a good point:  clean your new guitar.  Think about how many people have played it while it sat there and how much grime has worked its way into the fingerboard.  I have become enamored with the Ernie Ball Wonder Wipes fretboard conditioner – grab a wipe, rub down the fretboard, let it sit for a bit, then wipe it off with a paper towel.  It restores the moisture in rosewood and cleans a lot of the gunk that builds up from your nasty ass fingers.  They’re not for maple necks, but rosewood fingerboards can really benefit from a dousing every few string changes.

I’ll try to post more as I explore my new instrument, but let me tell you right now – it’s amazing.  I can see why Martin guitars are so popular.

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