Santa Cruz 1934 OM Adirondack and Old Growth Mahogany
The iconic 1934 line of guitars from Santa Cruz continues to celebrate the mystic modern day instruments constructed of old growth woods. Santa Cruz has enjoyed a great amount of critical and popular success with this model, and here at Artisan, we simply can’t rest! We decided to investigate the possibilities of re-creating the same pre-war aesthetics in smaller bodied instruments, namely the 14 fret 000, or OM. Let us start with a bit of history in regards to the OM.
The OM, or Orchestra Model was introduced in 1929, at the suggestion of teacher and musician, Perry Bechtel of Atlanta, GA, who needed access to more frets on an instrument that, up until that time, had only 12 frets to the body joint. The first version of the OM-28 began to evolve immediately. First to go was the narrow, straight bridge, replaced by the more common “belly” bridge, which had a wider footing to better withstand the tension of steel strings. Pick wear around the edge of the sound hole prompted Martin to extend the small pick guard, creating the teardrop shape that is still in use today. The solid peghead with straight-through banjo tuners was possibly an attempt to appeal to banjo players, as right-angle guitar gears for solid peghead design had been widely available for decades. The banjo-style gears didn’t hold up well under guitar string tension, and were replaced by more ordinary guitar tuners by late 1931.
From Santa Cruz’s website, regarding their vision for the 1934 Series: "In 1934, the powerful 14-fret herringbone dreadnought was unleashed. This has become one of the most revered and sought after designs of the steel string acoustic guitar. No one has reproduced the essence of the iconic original, until now. The secret to the often superior tone of vintage instruments lies in aged woods (crystallized resins) and the relaxation of tensions built-in during manufacture.
This is exactly what we account for in our 1934 OM Model. Adirondack Spruce tops and bracing from the same region as the originals and real hot hide glue are among our secret weapons. Hot hide glue is a time tested, natural adhesive that sets glass-like and resonant for a quicker, cleaner response. This isn't 'like the old stuff.' It is the old stuff. These rarefied materials give us the foundation for a true and genuine vintage sound.
Not every venerable 1930's herringbone dreadnought was exceptional, as they were products of a small, though nonetheless factory, assembly. By applying our singular tuning and voicing talents and taking our time to ensure a relaxed assembly, we consistently access the secrets to the 'Old Bone' sound." The original lacquer formula, nitro-cellulose, is composed of the same stuff as trees; we are protecting and enhancing the sound of the instrument with a fine coating of wood! It is the only choice to complement this heirloom quality guitar. The 1934 D Model's materials are very challenging to acquire. Availability is limited."
With these same ideas in mind, Santa Cruz has created, or should we say – Re-created, the famous 14 fret OM guitar from the same period! Utilizing Santa Cruz’s tried and true method, each guitar top is individually tapped for resonant testing for the particular wood set, then braces individually scalloped by hand. The 1934 OM responds to the lightest, bare finger touch, yet should you like to flat pick some fiddle tunes, you will find that the OM’s body size is much more balanced in the mid-range allowing you to hear inner voicing’s, and yet has plenty of power for the task at hand.
The hide glue construction makes for a fast note response on all of your single note lines, however adding a complexity to the overall chordal tone. One final note: in a blind test with a 1934 D, one might be challenged to consistently identify the larger build dreadnought. When the historians reflect upon the fundamental aspects of 20th century guitar building, the Santa Cruz 1934 line will be in that rare pantheon of the greatest guitars ever built. Rarely, if ever, can you capture lightning in a bottle, however, the small shop luthiers in Santa Cruz have not only captured it, they are able to re-create history at whim.