At the 2019 NAMM show in Anaheim, Scott Sasser and his crew from the Martin Custom Shop brought an impressive spread of tonewoods. Since we had the opportunity to sort through some of the finest tonewoods available, we couldn't resist placing an order for a special Custom Shop guitar right there on the floor of the Anaheim Convention Center.
Although Scott had plenty of nice Walnut, Maple, and Koa, the Cocobolo sets got our attention the most. We knew we wanted to build an Orchestra Model, and we love the well-balanced tone Cocobolo delivers on a mid-size guitar. Solid low-end with plenty of shimmer in the highs creates a complex sound that is rich in subtlety. Plus, we found one particular Cocobolo set that showed beautiful rich grain contrast and gorgeous book-matched figuring.
For the top wood, we chose Italian Alpine Spruce because it can be a little softer than other species, and we wanted to ensure this guitar would have quick, accurate response and a huge dynamic range. To further that aim, we asked for scalloped, 1/4" bracing. The result is a top that follows your picking dynamics. Notes bloom with a light touch, and they growl and jump across the room when you dig in.
As for aesthetics, we needed to make it clear this was a one-of-a-kind Custom Shop guitar. At the same time, we didn't want the guitar to be gaudy. In the tradition Martin guitars, bold, tasteful appointments provide timeless beauty. So we went with traditional Style-28 rosette and Herringbone purfling with upgraded European Flame Maple binding. On the fingerboard, simple but elegant "Foden style" markers at 5, 7, and 9 paint a roadmap for the play and give a touch of bling for the audience. On the peghead, all you will find is a gorgeous piece of Cocobolo. Like the prewar OMs that inspired it, this guitar doesn't have a Martin decal on head plate. On the back, though, you'll see the iconic "C.F. Martin & Co, Nazareth, Pa." stamp impressed into the wood.
Although it took nearly seven and a half months to ship, this Custom Shop OM-28 was well worth the wait. When we ordered it, we intended to create an heirloom instrument—something to inspire generations of musicians and push their music where it wants to go. The Custom Shop delivered just that and so much more.
- Body Size: 14-Fret Orchestra Model
- Top: Italian Alpine Spruce (AAA-AAAA grade)
- Back & Sides: Hand-Selected Cocobolo
- Bracing: Scalloped Sitka Spruce, 1/4"
- Nut: Bone, 1-3/4" spacing
- Saddle: Compensated Drop-In Bone, 2-5/32" spacing
- Scale Length: 25.4"
- Neck Profile: Modified Low Oval
- Fingerboard Inlay: Foden Style Hand-Selected Abalone
- Rosette: Style-28 Black Maple Fiber
- Purfling: Bold Herringbone
- Binding: European Flamed Maple
- Glue: Modern Adhesive
- Finish: Modern Nitrocellulose with no toner