I am a big fan of the Martin Authentic guitar series. They show a real understanding and appreciation for the most classic Martin models, from the inside out. Constructing these guitars using traditional approaches like hide glue, identifying and reproducing the detailed engineering of the instruments, and using torrefied wood to bring us as close as possible to the sound of old wood has resulted in instruments that can give more players the experience of making music with these great instruments.
In my collection, I have original versions of both the 00-18 Authentic 1931 and the OM-28 Authentic 1931, and they are among my favorite guitars. Here’s why:
I had been looking for a 1931 00-18 for a while when I found mine. For me, the 00 12-fret body is the ideal size in terms of the combination of comfort and great tone: even if it didn’t have great tone it would be comfortable to play, and if it wasn’t comfortable it would have great tone – but it has both. The neck is a perfect fit too, not too small and not too large. It feels good in my hand and still has enough spacing at the nut and saddle for fingerpicking. The ebony rod in the neck makes it feel really light, and that balances out the little extra weight from the width that I like for getting around the fingerboard.
The 1931 00-18 is like the culmination of lots of ideas that were developing over the years, all brought together in one beautiful package of design and function. The combination of the belly bridge, the shape and size of the guard, the ratio of the upper and lower bouts. To me, it’s like art.
My OM-28 is special to me in part because it was one of Mike Seeger’s guitars. Mike’s primary guidepost in choosing guitars was tone. He had this instrument for many years and played it extensively in his own gigs and with the New Lost City Ramblers because it was so versatile.
The OM-28 has an amazing strength of sound, with push and focus. I can fingerpick it and flatpick it. It may not have as much deep bass as a Dreadnought, but it has everything else.
Mike strung the OM with medium tension strings, and thus the OM-28 Authentic 1931 guitars are setup with Mediums. I kept his strings on the guitar for a long time, keeping it tuned down and playing with a capo, but now I have it strung with light guage strings. When I play the OM-28, it brings back good memories of Mike and his music.