Posted by Doug Young
Huss and Dalton Guitars is based around the partnership between luthiers Jeff Huss and Mark Dalton, who have been building together since 1995 and who now employ a small team of builders in their Staunton, Virginia, shop. The company builds a range of instrument styles, including traditional dreadnought and OM shapes, as well as their own, more contemporary, designs. For this review, Huss and Dalton sent us their TOM-R (T for “traditional” and R for “rosewood”).
The TOM-R mirrors the traditional look, feel, and construction of the classic OM. It includes herringbone top purfling and a simple rosette pattern, with a few unique touches, such as the highly scalloped Virginia red spruce braces. The ebony bridge pins sit smoothly and evenly inside recessed holes in the bridge. The TOM-R’s bone saddle is fully compensated, with adjustments evident for every individual string. The gloss-finished mahogany neck has a somewhat pronounced V shape on the lower frets, flattening out fairly quickly in the upper registers, making the neck very comfortable. In a nod to tradition, the neck also features a carved volute where the neck meets the headstock.
Tonally, the TOM-R exhibits a warm, rich sound, with the “chocolate” flavor often attributed to Indian rosewood. We felt the tone leaned toward the darker end of the spectrum, without being boomy. In fact, the low E string, in particular, exhibited a tight, punchy bass sound. The guitar also tends toward a fundamental tone, producing a sweet sound with relatively few overtones and very little high-end shimmer. The guitar has excellent sustain and a strong initial attack that tends to dominate. Nygaard liked how the guitar responded to a heavier attack and found that the guitar had plenty of headroom, making it a good choice for flatpicking. We all felt that the TOM-R produced a versatile tone that could do just about everything well and was an excellent representation of the classic rosewood OM sound.
SPECS: Solid Sitka spruce top. Solid Indian rosewood back and sides. Bolt-on mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1 3/4-inch nut width. 2 7/32-inch string spacing at saddle. Nickel Waverly tuners.
PRICE: $3,667 list/$3,300 street.
MAKER: Huss & Dalton Guitars: hussanddalton.com.