OM Cutways: Bourgeois, Collings & Santa Cruz: Looking for some input

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by iim7v7im7, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. iim7v7im7

    iim7v7im7 Member

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    Hi,

    I have identified these 4 instruments:

    Two are rosewood bodies; one with a Sitka top and the other with an Adirondack top. The other two are mahogany bodies; both with Sitka tops.

    Rosewood Instruments:

    Manufacturer: Collings
    Model: OM3CA
    Body: Indian Rosewood
    Top: Adirondack Spruce
    Fingerboard: Ebony

    Manufacturer: Santa Cruz
    Model: OM
    Body: Indian Rosewood
    Top: Sitka Spruce
    Fingerboard: Ebony

    Mahogany Instruments:

    Manufacturer: Bourgeois
    Model: OMC
    Body: Figured Mahogany
    Top: Sitka Spruce
    Fingerboard: Ebony

    Manufacturer: Santa Cruz
    Model: OM
    Body: Mahogany
    Top: Sitka Spruce
    Fingerboard: Ebony

    I am looking for an acoustic flattop to play solo jazz chord melody arrangements. I play with both my fingers and with a heavy flat pick. I am looking for an instrument that is balanced in its tone, dynamic and will respond to a soft comp of a clawed comped chord but will respond in volume when I dig in with a flat pick for single line passages. An instrument that can both be lush sounding during stummed chordal passages and have good string to string clarity if the strings are pinched simultaneously. I have found a number of instruments by Bourgeois, Collings and Santa Cruz on the market currently. All must be purchased from a distance without playing first. All can be evaluated and returned.

    While they are all OM cutaways, they vary in their construction by builder and have a variety of top woods. What do folks think about mahogany for my playing style? Lastly, which of these four instruments would you choose to purchase/audition and why?

    Thanks,

    Bob
     
  2. mgarrison99

    mgarrison99 Silver Supporting Member

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    Mahogany ia going to give you a warmer sound. I picked up two Collings guitars the other day, one with Rosewood and the other with Mahogany, and was surprised how much lighter in weight the Mahogany guitar was. For fingerstyle guitar and depending on how light if touch you have, you might want to consider Rosewood for a little stronger sound projection.

    As far as the brands you're considering, they're all great guitars. The Burgeois may be more dressed down, but may have a little cheaper pricepoint also. I have a special place in my heart for Collings since they're made here in good old Texas. However, I have a friend who is a total acoustic cork sniffer and he swears that Santa Cruz is the most consistently made and sounding boutique guitar out there.
    I guess you just need to find at least two of the three in the same demo room and just see which one fits tour hand and style better. Big decision but all three are probably good investments.

    Good luck!
     
  3. Matt Sarad

    Matt Sarad Member

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    Having played all of the guitars mentioned at one time or another, I would rate them thusly:
    1. Santa Cruz- lightest construction, dovetail neck joint, warmest sound, most expressive for what I do, which is play in DADGAD and fingerpicking in Standard tuning, prone to neck resets. I say this because my Cuz Dread cutaway has had two resets in the 30 years I have owned it.
    2. Bourgeois- somewhat heavier in construction, great projection and power, good sustain, sweet tone, bolt on neck
    3. Collings- built like a Mercedes, smooth clear sound that cuts nicely, I don't know of a Collings that has ever had the neck reset, not a single one. The Collings bolt on neck is an amazing piece of engineering.

    While you are at it, look for a Merrill OM cutaway. It will cost 30% more and give you the best tone by far. I own a Merrill OM 28 non cutaway. I chose it over a Bourgeois OM Cutaway on the basis of tone. It just sounded better to me.

    Mahogany is great for back and sides. I would go Euro Spruce for the top.

    Here is my new guitar.

    http://lblutherie.blogspot.com/2012/02/essential-2-carpathian-spruce-wenge.html

    Laurent builds a perfect guitar for what you have in mind.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2012
  4. royd

    royd Member

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    I would drive from NJ up to Mando Brothers and play a bunch of guitars in your price range and see if one speaks to you. You might find a 000 or small jumbo that just makes you say, "yes!" or you may come away thinking an OM really is what you need and one company's style fits you very nicely even if mando bros doesn't have the exact model you've been considering. then you could order one of the four if that is what you want to do.
     
  5. sublimeaudio

    sublimeaudio Silver Supporting Member

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    I just picked up a Collings OM1A from Mandolin Brothers - great sounding and playing guitar.

    They have an OM1A there with a cutaway that I tried, but I prefer the non-cutaway model. Go and check it out!
     
  6. iim7v7im7

    iim7v7im7 Member

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    Hi,

    As follow-up to my initial internet query, I was able to visit Mandolin Brothers and demo a number of instruments today. All were variants on Orchestra Models and a few were 0 or 00 models. Some were cutaways and some were not.

    6-Cutaways:
    Bourgeois OMC Indian Rosewood with a European Spruce top
    Collings OM1AC Mahogany with an Adirondack Spruce top
    Collings OM2HCA Indian Rosewood with an Adirondack Spruce top
    Collings OM3CA Indian Rosewood with an Adirondack Spruce top
    Huss & Dalton OM Custom Cutaway in Sinker Mahogany with a Italian Spruce top
    Martin Lawrence Juber OMC-LJ Pro in Flamed Maple with an Adirondack Spruce top

    9-Non-Cutaways:
    Bourgeois OM-150 Brazilian Rosewood and Adirondack Spruce top
    Collings OM1 Mahagony with a Sitka Spruce top
    Collings OM2H Indian Rosewood with a Sitka Spruce top
    Collings 01A Mahogany and Adirondack Spruce top
    Huss & Dalton Custom Traditional OM in Brazilian Rosewood and Adirondack Spruce top
    Martin 00-18 Tim O’Brien Mahogany with an Adirondack Spruce top
    Martin OM28 Marquis Indian Rosewood with a Sitka Spruce top
    Martin OM28V Indian Rosewood with a Sitka Spruce top
    Martin OM-18 Custom Shop Mahogany with a Sitka Spruce top

    Taking off work on a Monday was an excellent idea, because I pretty much had the shop to myself. I was able to bring my M-38 with me as a reference and I was able to quietly and systematically A/B the different instruments. It was an invaluable experience. The builder’s different choices of wood and construction techniques were very different experiences despite the fact that other a few models all were takes on Martin’s Orchestra Model.

    By auditioning so many fine instruments, I came to the conclusion that they all are individual instruments made from materials with variability to them so they all sound different. One needs to try instruments out in person before purchasing one. We can get lost of this fact with the advent of the Internet, shops located far away with eye candy on their sites and articulate posters in forums like this. In the end, YOU need to play them and pick the instrument for you. Suffice it to say it will arrive at my house later today.

    They all are individual instruments and even between two Collings OMC cutaways made from the same material they were slightly different in their harmonic character. In general, I found that I preferred rosewood to mahogany and maple as a body wood; but the Huss & Dalton which was made from the “sinker” mahogany was quite special and had a more solid bass than the other mahogany guitars. I did find also that the cutaways all took away “something” from the tone of the instrument. I don’t think that I would have noticed it without the ability to A/B directly as I did. After auditioning them all, I decided to nix the idea of a cutaway. I must also say that one of the finest instruments to my ears was the Martin OM28 Marquis. It was better to my ears than some higher-end boutique instruments.

    But in the end, all of them paled to my ears and hands to one instrument: the Bourgeois OM-150.
    Premium Brazilian Rosewood & Premium Adirondack.Square headstock. Brazilian headstock veneer. 1 3/4” nut. Triple bound Ivoroidbody, head and neck binding. Side purfling. Abalone rosette. Bourgeois backstrip. Short pattern Squares & Diamonds inlay. Gold Waverly tuners. Ebony pyramid bridge. Fossil Ivory bridge & end pins.
    All of the talk about Brazilian Rosewood and Adirondack spruce made by a master is true. I cannot begin to adequately describe the tone and feel of this instrument. It should arrive by courier later today. I will post some images when I get a chance.

    J

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  7. sublimeaudio

    sublimeaudio Silver Supporting Member

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    Yes, there is something special about a Braz/Adi guitar. Congrats!

    I agree that there is no substitute for actually going somewhere and sitting down with a bunch of guitars.
     
  8. JedimasterPaul

    JedimasterPaul Supporting Member

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    I thought the OM28 Marquis had adirondack tops. I had settled on one of these back in 06 when I was in the market for an OM, then decided to go the boutique route when I realized I was 70% of the way there (in terms of $$, at the time).

    In the end, I ended up with an adirondack/Madagascar RW OM built by John Slobod (aka Circa Guitars), who incidentally used to work at Pantheon for Bourgeous.

    Congrats on the guitar, I personally think OMs are the best fingerstyle guitars for many different styles.

    ps - in a related note, I used to own a Lowden O25c (cedar/rw) that sounded great for fingerstyle jazz as well; others besides myself at the time made that comment.
     
  9. iim7v7im7

    iim7v7im7 Member

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    You are absolutely right...it was Adirondack. My mistake. It was as you say an excellent value at ~60% the cost of the Bourgeois. I had to think long and hard about the last 10% of tone. Martin knows how to make them great when they want to.


     
  10. Papajuice

    Papajuice Silver Supporting Member

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    So what did you not like about the Huss & Dalton OM Sinker compared to the Bourgeois. I got to play it last month when I was in NYC and absolutely loved it. My daughter even complemented on how clear it was. I am fixing to be in the market in few months and this one stood out. Would love to try the sinker in a dreadnaught.
     
  11. iim7v7im7

    iim7v7im7 Member

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    Of all of the cutaway instruments that I tried, it was my favorite. It wasn't that I didn't like it. I did. Some folks might have chosen the H&D. It was a fabulous instrument clear and punchy with some nice midrange nuance to it. But I preferred the bass response and the overall richness of the harmonic overtones of the Bourgeois over it. I also found that the dynamic range of volume the Bourgeois be wider between a soft comped chord and a picked line were I dug in.

     
  12. Papajuice

    Papajuice Silver Supporting Member

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    Cool I really did like it and hope it's still there when I can pull the trigger.
     
  13. Da5Id

    Da5Id Member

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    YES!! :) I just came across this thread. I own a Bourgeois OM-150, and it's my favorite acoustic ever. My other acoustics are a Goodall, Froggy and Beneteau. All great guitars, but the Bourgeois is my baby.
     
  14. Latif

    Latif Member

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    My Bourgeois OMC displays that huge dynamic range in spades. One of the sometimes overlooked elements of choosing a guitar is the feel. Tone and volume are obviously at the top but most important to me is how it responds to what I ask of it. In my case I went against the "rules" and got mine online without even hearing a clip and feel like I scored bigtime and was very fortunate.

    Enjoy that new friend!

    Latif
     
  15. Wolfboy1

    Wolfboy1 Grandpa but...Not Yet Old! Silver Supporting Member

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    Great decision process and congrats. I recently had a similar experience and despite trying out some beautiful mahogany guitars, I still was drawn to rosewood. It didn't matter the brand, I just really relish the dark depth of rosewood. I ended up with Italian spruce top and rosewood back/sides. In most instances you just have to play them to understand and find what's right for you.
     

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