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The History of D and OM Guitars You Didn’t Know

  I don’t know if you have thought about it carefully. In fact, most musical instruments are relatively fixed in size and shape, but for guitars, there are countless sizes and barrel shapes. If you are a new guitar friend, you must It’s full of question marks.
  Some Simple History
  Today ‘s guitar sizes have evolved with the popularity of the instrument and increased playing opportunities in the early 20th century. As instruments moved from living rooms to clubs and bars, and players sought greater volume, guitar manufacturers responded by developing wider, deeper-barrel guitars, culminating in large barrels like the Dreadnought and Jumbo.
  As a result of this evolution in acoustic guitar size, today’s players are offered a vast array of cabinets and sizes to choose from. Thanks to advances in PA equipment, volume is no longer an issue, at least not for players using pickups and microphones. Each size seems to offer the player some unique characteristics, and these different strengths are one of the reasons many guitarists can’t settle for just one guitar.
  The story that followed, as we all know, Martin and Gibson from the mid-1800s to the 1940s pioneered the most recognizable styles of steel-string guitars that have remained the benchmark for many other manufacturers, large and small.
  The all-rounder
  Dreadnought Martin’s Dreadnought is a phenomenon, the most recognizable and replicated barrel shape in the acoustic guitar world. Dreadnought appeared in 1916 as a large 12-fret guitar with a wider waist, made for Ditson, a prominent music publisher and instrument dealer in New York and Boston. Ditson dreadnaught (Martin didn’t use this spelling until the early 1960s, when he changed it to Dreadnought) was originally built with steel strings in mind, but switched to X-bracing in 1921, previously using traditional fanning beam.
  The Ditson was sold in 1930, and the following year Martin began producing Dreadnought under his own name. The newly named D-18 and D-28 both debuted in early 1931. It wasn’t until 1934 that Martin shortened the cabinet – made the shoulders look squared and increased the frets, moved the bridge position to a 14 fret neck entry. This move also set the tone for contemporary steel-string acoustic guitars.
  This 14-fret Martin Dreadnought is 15-5/8″ at the lower bout, tapering from 4-7/8″ at the tail peg to 3-7/8″ at the neck. Such a guitar is full of firepower, with excellent volume and bass. Most of the early players using this body were in string orchestras, because they would not be drowned out by the sound of violins and banjos. Finally, the D-type has also found a home in rock, country, gospel, and just about every pop genre.
  Dreadnought’s initial appeal was its strong power and bass—perfect for country and bluegrass accompaniments. It has become especially popular with flatpickers due to its expressiveness on the monophonic scale and its powerful bass. Tony Rice is known for using Clarence White’s previous heavily modified D-28 as well as his Santa Cruz signature models, while younger players like Billy Strings and Molly Tuttle have their Preston Thompson signatures. On the other hand, the “Old Giants” of fingerpicking, Michael Hedges, used a 1971 Martin D-28 to play countless astonishing tunes with great results.
  For decades, most guitar makers didn’t let the D-type guitar go, it just came standard. Search Martin’s website for current D-barrels and you’ll see a plethora of models, including modern versions and Vintage, entry-level D-X1E to D-28 Modern Deluxe to D-45S Authentic 1936 Aged and more. Big players like Alvarez, Takamine, and Yamaha have made affordable changes on the Dreadnought platform. Small boutiques such as Bourgeois, Collings and Santa Cruz offer carefully crafted D-models in a range of wood and trim options. While most new Dreadnought necks have 14 frets, there are still some 12 fret versions in production, such as Collings’ DS series and Santa Cruz’s D-12 models.
  Gibson’s Response
  On the other hand, in 1934, Gibson responded to Martin’s Dreadnought with a jumbo guitar called the Jumbo. Although it was only in production for two years, this guitar became the basis for many other tuba bodies, such as the Advanced Jumbo, J-50, Gibson’s most influential model, the J-45, and more. The Jumbo and J-45 have a shorter scale (24.75 inches), while the Advanced Jumbo has a longer scale length of 25.5 inches. All of these models have a D-like enclosure, but are “rounded” or “lope-shouldered” compared to Martin’s characteristic square-shouldered design. Of course, Gibson eventually succumbed to the market and still offered square-shouldered D-types like the Hummingbird and Dove.
  Gibson’s round-shouldered D-shaped piano, characterized by loudness, tonal balance and clarity. The J-45 is affectionately known as the Workhorse by a wide range of musicians, including Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Gillian Welch and Lucinda Williams, proving that this body is perfect for recording or accompaniment.
  While not as common as its square shoulder design, the round shoulder design has long been an inspiration to other manufacturers. With models like the E10SS and E20SS, Eastman offered an affordable option, and Taylor made its most recent Grand Pacific cabinet with a V-Class bracing by appropriately modifying this round-shouldered D.
  The OM model, the undisputed rising star
  , is my favorite cabinet, and my own guitars are fine-tuned and selected based on the OM cabinet benchmark. It is also the most common guitar cabinet in the world, a little smaller than the D, with a lower bout of 15 inches wide, and the cabinet tapers from 4-1/8 inches to 3-1/4 inches. The body was developed in 1929 when bandleader, banjo player and guitarist Perry Bechtel asked Martin to build him a guitar with a longer neck. Until then, every Martin was connected at the 12th fret, like a classical guitar. The company built a guitar for Bechtel with a 14-fret neck and moved the position of the bridge to accommodate this new design, while the OM (essentially a 14-fret version of the 12-fret 000 size that first appeared in 1902) )born. (The term OM was also used for other 14-fret guitar models of the early and mid 1930s.)
  Around 1934, this cabinet was split into two models with the same body size: OM, with a scale length of 25.4 inches; 000 , the effective string length is 24.9 inches. Both the OM and 000 are known for producing rich bass and brighter highs, providing excellent all-round tone for almost any type of music. The longer scale OM has excellent responsiveness, brightness and throw, while the 000 may sound warmer and rounder, plus the shorter scale makes the strings softer and more playable.
  Many fingerstyle players, including Laurence Juber and Eric Schoenberg, consider the OM/000 to be the ultimate fingerstyle guitar, but it’s also great for plucking. Eric Clapton relied on 1939 000-42 and 1966 000-28 (customized to 45-style trim) to perform and record for his 1992 Unplugged concert, and his various Martin signature models were very popular. Grant Gordy used the mid-1940s 000-18 to great performances, while Julian Lage recorded his solo acoustic album World’s Fair with the 1939 000-18. By the way, Lage’s 000-18 was the inspiration for his personal signature version of the Collings OM-1 JL, whose neck shape was completely copied from Lage’s Martin 000-18.
  Of course, Collings is one of many manufacturers that has long offered the OM and 000 series. The Martin website currently lists over 20 different models, ranging from the affordable OMC-X1E to the gorgeous 000-42 and OM-42; of course the OM-28 remains the most popular model. Companies such as Guild offer modern OMs that are less expensive, while boutiques such as Bourgeois and Santa Cruz and OM/000s from luthiers such as Julius Borges and John Slobod are also upgrades for high-end enthusiasts.
  At the same time, some manufacturers began to offer their own “magic modified” new cabinets, similar in size to the OM. For example, Taylor’s popular Grand Concert (each company’s GC barrels are actually different sizes, pay attention to this), and various independent luthiers’ OM. In my experience, the OM of independent luthiers is actually difficult to generalize. Some are like GC, some are more like Martin’s OM, and some are Martin OM with round shoulders.