One of my favorite parts of working for Maury’s Music is the opportunity to collaborate with Maury on exclusive Custom Shop guitar runs. Martin’s Custom Shop gives us a chance to really explore the possibilities of Martin instruments, taking the daydream guitars that we all think about and refining the ideas into something that we feel our customers will truly appreciate. Sometimes this involves complete revisions of a base model while other times it's a simple tweak to an already solid formula. Our most recent batch of four OM-28V Cocobolo Custom Shop guitars definitely falls into the latter category but ends up being all the better for it.
Without a doubt, out of all of the Custom Shop guitars we’ve brought in, the OM-28V Cocobolo were the ones I was most excited to see finished. The OM-28V Cocobolo guitars are constructed using sets of Cocobolo hand picked by Maury while on one of his frequent visits to the Martin factory. Getting to pick the sets in person allowed us to be very particular about the character of the color and grain of each set. But seeing the unfinished pieces of wood can never do justice to what these instruments turn into once they get the Martin treatment. On top of this, the OM-28V has always been a favorite of both Maury and myself. During its run the OM-28V’s balance and tone were nearly unmatched in Martin’s lineup. Needless to say we were both a bit disappointed when the model was discontinued. But all clouds have silver linings, and it’s discontinuation provided the push we needed to make Maury’s Music’s next Custom Shop run something truly special.
Other than the change in wood and a change in the tuning machines, the OM-28V Cocobolo Custom Shop guitars are spec for spec recreations of the the original OM-28V. Each guitar features a 000 sized 14-fret body, 1-¾” nut, and a long 25.4” scale length. They also retain their modified V necks, Drop-In long saddles and their wider 2-5/16” string spacing. Each guitar also comes with Martin’s high quality 533E hardshell Geib case, because guitars this pretty should have a top tier case to call home.
Before we begin discussing the sound of the OM-28V Cocobolo guitars, it’s probably best to talk about exactly what Cocobolo is. Found along the Pacific coast of Central America and Mexico, Cocobolo is a very dense tropical hardwood. It is characterized by its reddish-brown coloring dark spidery grain patterns, and yellowish sapwood that offers a clear delineation line. In terms of looks, Cocobolo is very reminiscent of Brazilian Rosewood which shouldn’t be surprising as both share the same genus.
The first thing you’ll notice when strumming one of these OM-28V Cocobolo are the harmonics. The word lush is often thrown around by both reviewers and manufacturers when describing the tone of a guitar but I have to honestly say that to date I have not found a guitar more deserving of this term as these Custom Shop OM-28V. In terms of both ringing, bell-like chime and low “feel it in your gut” subharmonics, these guitars offer a rich, full tone without sacrificing the balance we’ve come to expect from the OM sized Martin guitars. I can only ascribe this substantial harmonic response to the density of Cocobolo which allows these hard to reproduce frequencies to reflect off the interior surfaces of the guitar rather than getting sucked up by the wood.
The playability of these guitars is everything you’d expect from a standard OM-28V. Their modified V necks feel full and solid in the hand. While definitely larger feeling than the majority of Martin necks, I’ve found that the Mod V has a tendency to grow on players. It’s sharper profile allows for different thumb positions that can provide the leverage needed for more difficult cord forms. I’ve personally played every OM-28V Cocobolo we have in our store and I feel 100% confident in saying that they’re all ready to play out of the box. The action is low and comfortable without creating buzzing, whether you're fingerpicking lightly or really digging in with a heavy gauge flatpick.
So if you're looking for a unique instrument, both in terms of looks and tone, I think it's definitely worth your time to check out our OM-28V Cocobolo Custom Shop guitars. Personally, as a long time fan of the original model, I appreciate these as an interesting tweak on an old classic. Similar enough to remind me why I love the model in the first place but with enough distinction to bring something truly new to the table. Combine that with the fact that Cocobolo is one of the best looking tonewood's available today and you end up with a guitar that should make any Martin fan envious.