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Martin OM vs. Collings OM

davess23

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,566
Yep, great guitars can be built using different techniques and different woods. If you can hear the difference between dovetail and bolt-on, more power to you, but are you sure you're not actually a brown bat?

That Adi vs. Sitka debate is one I find particularly unproductive. It's a total non-starter for me because my Santa Cruz OM happens to have a German spruce top and I've never heard a guitar that wasn't a lot older than me and that didn't cost upwards of $20K that I'd trade it for.
 
Messages
657
Are there any characteristics that differ between these manufacturers? Some say that Collings' is brighter (or more balanced), others say they lack "life" and bass.
I think I agree with what some say and what others say.

I also agree that Collings are stiffer, but the fit and finish is better. I couldn't say one is better, but I generally prefer Martins. Both make great guitars. Others make guitars I like even better.
 

john guay

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
342
I have a new Collings OM1 with a German top and adi bracing. It's well balanced with plenty of bass, sweet mids and top end. It's also punchy and powerful! The Martin's I've played have sounded dull to me.
 

DanR

Member
Messages
3,724
The only time I compared very similar OM models, the Collings won tone-wise, but by the narrowest of margins. Even though I had the budget for the winner, a Collings OM2H, I ended up getting a slightly used Martin OM-28 custom shop model and saved a bunch of money. I liked the tone of the Collings ever so slightly more but the Martin was a darned fine sounding guitar. As far as the neck attachments go, the Collings showed that it doesn't really matter, at least to me.
 

golfnut

Member
Messages
392
If you play enough OM28's you'll eventually find one that sounds as good as an OM2H, maybe even better. This could take playing 50 guitars or more. Just get a Collings.
I've been a dread player all my life so when I decided to pick up an om guitar for some variety I compared just one OM28 to the Collings OM2H. I preferred the OM28. It had much more bass and had clarity without being harsh, which I thought the Collings was. To me the Martin had warmth that the Collings was missing. So to say one is better than the other (at least for tone) is not really relevant. It comes down to what you like. The one thing that I liked much more than the Martin was the Collings neck. Much more comfortable. Again thats a preference, not "one is better". For me the bonus was the OM28 is less expensive by a big margin. To me alot of that extra expense is in how much prettier that Collings looks.
 

Barnzy

Member
Messages
3,709
Almost every Collings I have played have been 'exceptiona'l and often 'outstanding' in tone. I would go through a dozen Martin's before finding that. Nothing against Martin...I love them, but Collings has a 'build quality' and 'consistency' well beyond them. And however they are voiced...be it "Martin-like" to my ears, they sound so rich and full...I don't hear a lack of bass there....My next acoustic will be a Collings.
 

john guay

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
342
The adi bracing was strongly recommended by Tom at Redwood Acoustics to warm up the sound and balance the response for my Collings OM. It still has a crisp upper mid and treble response but it's well balanced with a full bass and lower mids. Warm sounding guitar to my ears!
 

phoenix 7

Senior Member
Messages
25,730
If you play enough OM28's you'll eventually find one that sounds as good as an OM2H, maybe even better. This could take playing 50 guitars or more. Just get a Collings.
Yes, the Collings are amazingly consistent. Not so the Martins.

I had a Collings OM-3 - Brazilian and Adirondack. Some years ago I got to spend a few hours in a practice room at Elderly Instruments comparing the Collings to an original 1930 Martin OM-45. The vintage Martin sounded a little better. Actually, just a very little. The tonal qualities of the two guitars were surprisingly similar.
 

facesfan

Member
Messages
430
Ive owned a bunch of new and used Martin OM's over the years including a half dozen 30's originals. I've also gone thru at least 20 Collings OM's and now I own only one a Collngs OM-1A SB vintage neck varnish finish. It's warmer than standard Collings and more Martin like but not as good or dynamic as the 30's Martins which I do miss. What I don't miss was the constant repairs and fragility of the old Martins,actually,the new ones too. The thing about my OM-1A and other Collings is the remarkable consistency and sturdiness . I can leave them in the case for months and take them out and they are barely out of tune or need truss rod adjustment. Martins are a PITA to maintain but they do have a warmer,less hi-fi sound than Collings. I guess you could say Collings sound clear and bright like a CD and Martin is more like a vinyl record. Now, I like vinyl better than CD but in my guitars I guess I go the other way. I still own a 1981 D-45 (in for repairs right now) that sounds better than any D-45 I've ever heard but I own four Collings C-10's all with OM necks and I've settled on those as my favorite do all guitars over dreads,OM's and smaller,slopes etc..
 
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shallbe

Deputy Plankspanker
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
12,269
The Collings are more consistent in terms of tone and finish, in my experience.

However, when you find a Martin OM that has "it", then that may trump the Collings consistency.

I have a wonderful Martin OM28V that has trumped everything else I have played. It sounds so sweet and full, so balanced, and it plays so nicely. I much preferred it to the Collings and even a Froggy Bottom. The only thing that was in its league for me was a Santa Cruz OM. That was a GREAT guitar.
 

teletalkin

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,265
The Collings are more consistent in terms of tone and finish, in my experience.

However, when you find a Martin OM that has "it", then that may trump the Collings consistency.

I have a wonderful Martin OM28V that has trumped everything else I have played. It sounds so sweet and full, so balanced, and it plays so nicely. I much preferred it to the Collings and even a Froggy Bottom. The only thing that was in its league for me was a Santa Cruz OM. That was a GREAT guitar.
I've played Steve's Martin and it truly is an exceptional guitar. I personally own a Collings OM1 with German Spruce and Koa back and sides. For me the Collings voicing fits perfectly for my playing style. I do not use a pick, and play with the fleshy part of my fingers.....no nails. The tone, sustain, and spot on intonation is stellar. I would love to hear these two guitars (Steve's and mine) together.....they would compliment each other beautifully.
 

lamenlovinit

Member
Messages
3,843
The reason to buy a collings is because you've always wanted one.

The reason to buy a Martin is because you've always wanted one.

:D

If you go Martin, it's easier to play a bunch and pick a winner, unless you live in Nashville, Austin, or LA.

If you go Martin, it's easier to go the used guitar route, and save some money, and still play a bunch a pick a winner.

But the first two sentences are the most important IMO in my post.
 

shallbe

Deputy Plankspanker
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
12,269
Nick, I would love to play your Collings. The Santa Cruz OM I loved also had Koa back and sides.
 

teletalkin

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,265
Any time Steve....it really is a special guitar. Plus I would get the chance to see your Asher's again!!
 

wreckmark

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,384
I can't speak for the Martins.....but my Collings OM1A cutaway floors me every time I play it.

Lots of great comments above...
 

orogeny

Member
Messages
10,759
i was actually going to have an OM built to my own liking
until i found out the martin OMJM was almost exactly what i was having built.
called a couple of places and found one an hour and fifteen away so i thought i would go check it out along with whatever else they had.
played every guitar in the room that day.
my wife said, "that one sounds the nicest". she was right.
took it home. great deal from guitar center in delaware. used ones go for more on the bay.

get yourself a great guitar. don't worry what it says on the headstock unless you think you might need the money someday.

collings are real beautiful guitars. they just don't call my name like martins seem to. got my first in 1995.
 

pedalcr8z

Member
Messages
3,452
To the op..........."Lacking life and bass" is a description never applying to any Collings, Huss & Dalton, or Santa Cruz type builder. Their consistency of sound is exceptional a feat not able to be accomplished by any maker on the planet with the volume of production of a Martin or Taylor type builder. This is not meant to slam high production builders, it's just reality. FWIW this is my 50 years playing personal experience. I have no agenda, just experience. A Tesla and a Ford come to mind here.
 
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