Wishlist: Martin OM-28 Authentic 1931
Martin’s Orchestra Model (OM) shape was refined through a series of experimental tenor guitars, the aim being to produce an instrument with 14 frets clear of the body and likely to appeal to the era’s banjo players. By 1930, the 14-fret ‘folk’ size flat-top was born, and this OM-28 recreates an actual instrument from the following year.
Lifting it out of its deluxe lined case, the 31 is feather light. The lacquer finish is treated to a process that leaves it satin in appearance and to the touch.
"If you thought a nigh-century-old design would play like an orange box strung with cheese wire, think again"
Running hand and eye over the guitar it looks and feels amazing (and will even more so, once the anaemic white top tames to a subtler caramel).
The satin works its magic on the neck, too; totally drag-free, you hardly know it’s there. Action is perfect on a neck that’s shaped for all, and if you thought a nigh-century-old design would play like an orange box strung with cheese wire, think again; this is the first truly modern acoustic, and it plays like a dream.
Using Martin’s Vintage Tone System, which aims to replicate the exact age of top and braces, the sound is clear, rich and articulate.
Every tonal centre is covered but none stands excessively proud. Projection is stunning, and the dynamic range and balance match far exceed anything we’ve played.
In the final analysis, Martin’s OM-28 Authentic 1931 is a fingerpicking folkie’s dream. How many of them could actually afford the four-and-a-half grand price, though, is a matter for others to discuss. Meanwhile, it’s eyebrow-raisingly good.
Due to restrictions on its use, Madagascar rosewood replaces the original’s Brazilian - note the appropriate zig-zag style purfling.
Martin’s headstock decal didn’t arrive until late in 1931, so the Madagascan rosewood cap on this one remains barren - some will like the accuracy, others will miss the bragging potential (the nickel Waverley tuners look and work a treat).
The Authentic’s top, bracing and tone bars are of Adirondak spruce - note the wood’s typically wide grain pattern, and the grained ivoroid binding with classic herringbone inlay detail.
The bevelled Delmar tortoise-style pickguard, 1921-31 28-style soundhole rosette, abalone-inlaid bridge pins and long bone saddle are all authentic vintage appointments.
Beautifully finished frets on an ebony board with abalone split diamond inlays imbue this genuine player’s guitar with understated excellence.
Along with a subtle stamp on the headstock’s rear, the internal CF Martin & Co, Nazareth PA brand are the only giveaways to the guitar’s origin.