Posted by Doug Young
California’s Santa Cruz Guitar Company has been known for making high-quality traditional instruments since the 1970s. Although the company offers many stock models, it specializes in creating custom variations of the traditional blueprints. Accordingly, our review OM is a slightly modified version of the standard Santa Cruz OM, featuring a top made of Italian instead of Sitka spruce, and the vintage-style “advanced” X-bracing option. The mahogany neck has a slight V shape and terminates with a volute behind the headstock. It’s capped with an ivoroid bound fingerboard that has small dot position markers. The guitar is adorned with a herringbone purfling backstrip, and a herringbone rosette also surrounds the slightly smaller-than-normal 3 3/4-inch soundhole. Construction is predictably first-class, with quality materials everywhere.
Like many Santa Cruz guitars, our review OM has a unique flavor that somehow oozes a “vintage” vibe; it features a dry sound, distinct attack, and powerful fundamental tone. Nygaard felt the direct, robust sound, uncolored by excessive overtones, would work well for single-note runs in a band setting, and appreciated the “buttery” feel of the neck. I noticed a subtle and pleasing compression in the midrange that may help account for some of the roundness and warmth of the tone. A very warm and solid bass further helped with the guitar’s full sound. Gerken felt the guitar’s tone offered an ideal match for his contemporary fingerstyle approach.
SPECS: Solid Italian spruce top. Solid Indian rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck with dovetail joint. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.375-inch scale. 1 3/4-inch nut width. 2 3/16-inch string spacing at saddle.
PRICE: $5,250 list/$4,725 street.
MAKER: Santa Cruz Guitar Co.: santacruzguitar.com.