I just spent a day with one of Collings’ newest models, the OM2H T. This guitar is easy to review: It’s perfect.
Hey, guess what?Premier Guitarwon’t pay me for an 85-word review! So I guess I have to cough up some paragraphs telling youwhythis retro-flavored flattop is perfect.
OM Sweet OM
Let’s decode the Collings’ model number. OM stands for orchestra model. The H is for the lovely herringbone purfling that rings the guitar’s top. And the T represents Collings’ traditional series—guitars influenced by pre-WWII tones and construction techniques. T models are built with animal-protein glue and have thin nitro finishes. They’re voiced more warmly than all those sizzlin’-bright modern flattops, with manicured highs and complex low-mids.
The OM2H T is built from beautiful materials. The tight, even grain of the Sitka spruce top seems to glow through an exquisite finish. The East Indian rosewood back and sides are a delicious dark chocolate hue. The elegant Honduran mahogany neck has a retro-cool squared-off peghead and a pretty volute with an offset pyramid shape. The compound-radius neck’s relaxed V profile feels simultaneously sleek and substantial. The long-scale ebony fretboard meets the body at the 14th fret. There are 20 smallish, square-shouldered frets. The bridge is ebony. The nut and bridge are bone. A built-in-house, Bill Collings-designed case that combines vintage aesthetic with much more thorough and modern protective features is also included.
At this point in a review we usually assess the detail work. Are the frets evenly seated? Are their ends rounded and comfy? Is the instrument devoid of acoustic dead spots? Does the finish shine with mirror-like perfection? Is the detail work of the binding, purfling, and rosette flub-free? Are the interior surfaces and X-bracing as immaculate as the exterior? Well, duh—I already told you this guitar was perfect! And while most new acoustic guitars smell nice, sniffing this soundhole is an apex olfactory experience. If the fragrance were sold as cologne, I’d buy it and bathe in it.
I confess I’ve clocked relatively few hours on OM-style guitars, so consider these observations as an outsider’s perspective. OM bodies aren’t as deep or wide as dreadnoughts. You don’t get a dreadnought’s volume and bottom-octave thump, but the midrange character—especially between approximately 150 and 500 Hz—is more pronounced and complex than on smaller-bodied flattops.
Some OM fans describe the style’s tonal tendencies as “piano-like,” and I definitely hear that. Tones are dense and complex in the best sort of way, with an especially prominent second (octave) harmonic, especially on the bass strings. The mids never feel crowded or constipated, however. There’s simply a wealth of energy in that register. The resulting tones can feel warmer than those from 000-type guitars (which typically have similar body dimensions, but use shorter scale length) though there’s no shortage of high-end shimmer.
Make no mistake: the OM2H T sounds great for pretty much any style/technique, from crude cowboy chords to fleet flatpicked lines to refined fingerpicking. But the latter style is probably the guitar’s greatest forte.
The wide, touch-responsive dynamics amplify every nuance of fingerstyle playing. The complex low-midrange character makes solo playing sound massive, but some of that particular character might be obscured in ensemble contexts. And while string spacing is a matter of taste, the OM-signature 1 3/4" nut width (as opposed a more common 1 11/16" you typically see on a 000) seems more attuned to a relaxed picking hand and fingerstyle phrasing than to speedy flatpicking. (Man, a mere 1/16" can mean such a difference in feel!)
I already told you: perfection! Collings’ OM2H T is glorious to listen to, look at, and touch. It sounds magnificent now, and its tones will only improve as the instrument opens up and mellows out. It excels at any style, though its detailed low mids and 1 3/4" string spacing make it especially suitable for sophisticated solo fingerstyle work. It was an honor to spend time with this extraordinary guitar.
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