Because Martin invented the OM, its various versions of the model are naturally the standard against which all others are measured. With Indian rosewood back and sides, a Sitka spruce top, and modest appointments, our review OM-21 is an excellent representation of a basic “working musician’s” OM. The OM-21 includes a bone nut and saddle, black plastic bridge pins with white dots, and open-back nickel tuners. A peek inside reveals Martin’s classic scalloped X-bracing, and the guitar’s construction is impeccable inside and out.

The OM-21 has been part of Martin’s line for quite some time, but the latest version— introduced earlier this year— has some updated features, most notably the Performing Artist neck profile, which combines a shallow oval shape with a slightly narrower taper than a typical OM’s neck. This shape is likely to appeal to players with smaller hands or those used to electric guitars, because it makes it easier to reach around the neck, even though the width at the nut is a standard 1 3/4 inches.

When we played the OM- 21, we immediately noticed that it was extremely responsive, producing a solid tone from a very light touch—but it was also relatively easy to exceed the available headroom. Everyone liked the characteristic Martin tone, with its satisfying warmth in the lower midrange. Nygaard in particular felt right off the bat that the guitar suited his style very well. Gerken and I both felt that we would prefer a little beefier neck for our fingerstyle approaches, but it’s easy to understand that many players would find the sleek performing artist profile to be just right. Although it’s the least expensive guitar in this review, the OM-21 represents a solid, thoroughly professional choice for any guitarist.

SPECS: Solid Sitka spruce top. Solid Indian rosewood back and sides. Select hardwood neck with dovetail joint. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1 3/4-inch nut width. 2 3/16-inch string spacing at saddle. Martin/Gotoh nickel open-back tuners.

PRICE: $3,099 list/$2,399 street.

MAKER: C.F. Martin and