The Martin OM-28 is highly coveted by collectors and players alike for its outstanding tone and contemporary features. This is the model that plectrum banjo player Perry Bechtel helped Martin develop in the late 1920s when he custom ordered a 000-28 guitar with a neck that gave him better access to the upper frets. Martin decided to redesign the 000 body to accommodate the longer 14-fret neck with a 25.4-inch scale that met Bechtel’s requirements, making it shorter but also increasing its width to maintain the instrument’s output and balanced tone. To achieve this goal, Martin also moved the positions of the bridge and bracing.
Bechtel raved about this new design when he took delivery of the guitar in 1929, but more importantly Martin’s sales representatives and dealers were also impressed, and they implored Martin to offer this design as a new model. At first, Martin made only a handful of examples called the 000-28 Perry Bechtel Special in 1929, but as demand increased they renamed it the Orchestra Model, which was shortened to OM and broke Martin’s previous practice of using numbers to designate size. The first Martin guitars bearing the OM name were a pair of OM-18 guitars that they made in 1930, and shortly afterwards production of Martin’s first 14-fret neck guitars went full steam ahead as they introduced their OM-28, OM-42, OM-45, and the incredible OM-45 Deluxe models later that same year.
Initially, Martin produced more OM-28 guitars than any other OM model in 1930, but in 1931, the year that this guitar was built, the OM-18 surpassed the OM-28’s production numbers. Martin made 166 OM-28 guitars in 1931, and a good number featured the shaded brown finish as seen on this example. The OM-28 as seen here with its 14-fret neck, pickguard, solid “paddle” headstock, and belly bridge established the successful formula for the modern Martin flattop guitar.
This is an incredible-sounding instrument with full, balanced tone and a crisp, articulate voice thanks to its 25.4-inch scale and Brazilian Rosewood back and sides. Although the OM-28 was initially designed for rhythm playing in an orchestra, it is one of the best guitars for solo fingerstyle playing ever produced.
Serial number: 48807
Back and sides: Brazilian Rosewood
Bridge: Ebony belly pin
Tuners: Nickel-plated individual Grover G-98 open gear with metal butter bean buttons