How light is too light?

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    • #3585
      Neil Carr

      Hey folks,
      I’m new to the forum and new to SCGC. Just putting in my first order for a custom OM after having toured the shop in December. What a gift that was.

      I could use some collective advice: The guitars I’ve been most attracted to have been very light, very dry, articulate open. You see this quality in some old Martin 12 fret 000’s, for example. The Waterloo instruments by Collings have a lot of this quality, and feel very alive and visceral (I’m thinking of a WL-K I’ve played). Also, while discussing Collings, I recently played a Julian Lage model that was quite impressive in this way. Amongst SCGCs I’ve played, the one that struck me most as having this quality was an OMPW Adi/mahogany. It was the lightest OM in the shop (Sylvan Music in Santa Cruz) and felt very alive indeed.

      So here are my questions:
      1. Is it possible to get more of this in a guitar? For example, is extra-light bracing even a thing? and would it even result in more of the characteristic I seem to like? Could you get an OM to be light like a Waterloo, and yet still retain the OM qualities?

      2. How much of this quality comes from the bracing and build, and how much is in the wood itself? Carolyn (from SCGC) suggested that I might consider a Redwood top instead of Adi. It would lose the volume, but would gain some responsiveness. That said, would it retain the clarity and liveliness?



    • #3587

      Welcome Neil,

      Each of the little babies is different for sure, you got some good questions, I’m sure you’ll find the answers here, again, Welcome!

    • #3588

      I have had similar experience with the guitars you listed and overall I have found that many SCGC models lean in that direction. If you like dry, punchy fundamentals — try an H-13. I think this is a very interesting option if you are looking for a small/mid size  model. A beautiful guitar IMO.

      – Paul –

    • #3589

      Welcome to the SCGPF.  Any relations to the Carr Klan in Philadelphia?   .  I think your on the right track with the OM build design with ADI/MAH.   German might lend towards a little more warmth and responsiveness.   You might also think about the OM/PW with the scalloped bracing if you’d like a touch more bottom presence and sustain.

      Maybe line up a conversation with the Maestro Richard Hoover.    All the best on your build

    • #3590

      New Friend Neil,

      The VERY first thing you should do is schedule a telecon with Richard Hoover…through Carolyn.

      he is a MASTER at putting you sonic desires into wood and steel.

      I am the lucky owner of a “The tree” Hog/Euro OM and also a Madi/Italian H-13 O.T..

      The O.T. is not light but has the sound you wish for……The weight comes from the Madi/Euro and a p/u.

      A different wood combo might be much lighter but man does it have a voice for Blues and the Delta/Cajun C.C.R. sound.

      The OM (and NO builder creates a better OM) is feather light and its’ voice is wonderfully dry.woody and yet rich and mellow beyond belief.

      I don’t believe that there is a better translator of wishes to end result than Santa Cruz Guitar Company……

      But listen to others on this Forum…..they speak the truth from experience and the heart.

      Enjoy the journey…It’s a very special ride.

      1993 Martin HD-28 IR/Sitka
      2001 SCGC F Cutaway Maple/German
      2008 SCGC OT Madi/Italian
      2015 SCGC OM “The Tree” Hog/ European
      2016 SCGC 1934 D45 Braz/ Adi
      2016 Taylor K62 CE Limited Edition 12 string all Koa
      2019 SCGC FTC Granadillo/Redwood
      Life is a journey…not a guided tour,
      The Bay,The Gulf Stream , The Open Ocean are particular about who they share their secrets with.

      • This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by Hank.
    • #3592

      Neil, welcome to the forum.

      Heavy vs Light, man that’s good one. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s the sum of all components and the builder’s talents. Just the weight of a heavy truss rod might take it over the top, so many factors. Mr Hoover would be the man to ask, he can build most anything you might want is what I believe.

      btw, my SCGC VJ is considerably lighter than my Collings CJ.

    • #3593
      Acoustic Soul

      Welcome to the forum!

      I hope I can help as I have gone through a lot of learning with Santa Cruz in the past 8 years.

      First off, Richard can definitely build you anything you want/need given a few factors:  you truthfully know exactly what you want, you can describe it accurately and concisely to the best of linguistic ability, and you have a reference… perhaps a SC serial number or another video of a guitar etc.  Even without these things he can get close, but with them it’s pretty much a guaranteed thing.  These guitars take years to really break in though when they’re new so be ready for that.

      I would also like to add that of any Santa Cruz guitar, Adirondack has been my favorite wood… and Mahogany has been the favorite for back and sides.  Something about the way they build and those woods together just works better than anything else I’ve heard personally.

      If you like open definitely check out a OOO.  If you want an OM and OOO comparison I can send you a video link or you can just go to youtube channel ‘Carmelo Santini’ and see OOOO vs OOO.  The OOO is so open its lovely.

      Light, airy, dry, open… definitely wouldn’t recommend EIR or Cocobolo from santa cruz as it will feel dense.  You don’t get the air movement that you get from mahogany with them.  My italian spruce works sooo well with fingers.  With a pick I have to use 80/20 strings.  All their guitars are built light, and if you want responsive… definitely make sure you get hide glue with adirondack bracing.  I would even suggest trying the old growth woods!!!!  You can tell them when they’re building if you want it to be exclusive finger style and always have lights and they’ll build accordingly within a reasonable range.  If you sell the guitar they don’t want it to break for someone else etc.  I would suggest to you also to check out the firefly for an experience, it is the most responsive guitar I’ve ever played.  The OOO seems to fit your description though with some sweetness, and you can get a cutaway if needed.  Don’t overlook the 12 fret advantage.

      A LOT of benefit does come from the woods, I only at this point like to play fully custom and upgraded santa cruz guitars… they do their best work with the best materials.. and it is TOTALLY satisfying.  I spent 11k on mine and was cool with it a week later . .  .  nothing spare for the build even off spec sheet.  And that’s a TON of money for me!  I worked in a bar two years to save my money for that.  So it’s not like it’s worth it to me because I make 200k a year.

      I have an OM Grand with pre-war / advanced x bracing with hide glue upgrade.  Super nice italian / cocobolo. . . all bound in Brazilian… built to be a versatile workhorse strummer for someone who doesn’t like square shoulder dreadnought Martins.

      If you’re doing finger style only I’d say OOO or OM is definitely big enough.  If you wanted to try the redwood, they have a tunnel 13 redwood right now I think that sounds great with the tree or regular mahogany if it’s still available.

      So also try the firefly and H13… but I’d recommend:

      Opting for the OOO unless you’ve played both and still prefer the OM, specify the type of voice you’re after.
      Old Growth Adirondack
      Old Growth Mahogany
      Hide Glue with Old Growth Adirondack Bracing
      If you want a brazilian rosewood bridge, old growth
      Cutaway and pickup if you need it
      Short scale if you like short scales
      Aesthetic appointments up to you, I do all the wood things – binding rosette and all
      Inlays etc you want
      You may want fossilized ivory vs regular bone, not sure you could ask about that in context
      Finish, tuners etc
      Bone end pins if you want them
      Any custom fit and finish or thematic ideas you have or any specifications on setup
      Deep body if that’s your vibe
      if not short scale or long scale another scale length variant in between
      play it a whole lot, put a tone rite on it, play music to it
      be fully satisfied for years to come and never buy another OOO !

      OM G vs OOO

      Firefly /drool


    • #3599
      Neil Carr

      Wow! Such kind responses. I may have to have a conversation with Mr. Hoover before the build starts. I met him in the shop tour in December, and was struck by his kindness and approachability.

      My plan here is to buy 4 instruments over the next 4 years. I have 4 kids, and when my own Father passed away my brothers and I found ourself wishing we had something more to remember him by. My plan is to commission 4 instruments, one with each child in mind.

      I’ve not encountered an H13, though there happens to be one within driving distance of Seattle at a shop in Renton, so maybe I should head up there. I’ve never encountered a Firefly either, but would very much like to. The videos I’ve seen have been very inspiring. So I’ll likely start with an OM as #1 (I’m a sucker for mahogany OMs) but for the remaining  3 I’d consider a VJ, a Dread, an H13, an F or a Firefly. There will be time to figure that out. I’m just thankful that my wife gave me permission to head down this road!!!

      I like the suggestion of the Old Growth, and I’m certain that I’d love that, but I don’t think I could squeeze out the extra $3.5K it’d take to get me there, at least not at this point with 3 more instruments to save for. Trying to keep it in the $7K range.

      Thanks again.


    • #3600
      Neil Carr

      Also, in response to Acoustic Soul,

      I so want to love 000s, and tend to like them when others play them, as they have many of the qualities I like. Somehow in my own hands they seem a bit boomy though. The EQ just seems off. I say that never having played an SCGC 000 though. Have played some collings.

      The firefly though. I’ve got to try one of those at some point. Agreed that there is a lot there that appeals to me.


    • #3601

      You have received the accumulated knowledge of a group of SCGC  owners that is both accurate and maybe…just maybe a bit overwhelming.

      Your statement that you are going to commission 4 instruments,  One to pass on to each child touches me.

      I own 4 SCs and  1 old Martin  that I also plan on passing on to my Nephew and 3 Nieces.

      I don’t agree with some that SCs take years to develop the voice that we all love…….a couple of years yes, but the more you play them the sooner the instruments true sonic appear.

      if you intend to stick to your 4 year plan…..TELL Maestro Hoover NOW….let him know now so he can advise you and plan what woods he might have in his  “personal” stash.

      Your kids are very lucky.  If they are young you’ll have years to “play in” the guitars and pass on to them open and singing instruments.


      1993 Martin HD-28 IR/Sitka
      2001 SCGC F Cutaway Maple/German
      2008 SCGC OT Madi/Italian
      2015 SCGC OM “The Tree” Hog/ European
      2016 SCGC 1934 D45 Braz/ Adi
      2016 Taylor K62 CE Limited Edition 12 string all Koa
      2019 SCGC FTC Granadillo/Redwood
      Life is a journey…not a guided tour,
      The Bay,The Gulf Stream , The Open Ocean are particular about who they share their secrets with.

    • #3602
      Neil Carr

      Great advice. Yeah. My kids are quite young. The twins are just two years. The idea is that they would see me playing them all their lives and have the story that they were made just for them.

      In fact, In December when I went and visited the shop, I took Etta with me. This first guitar will someday be hers so I’m going to let her weigh in on a few of the aesthetic decisions. This photo is shot after a 90 minute tour, so she’s a bit tired here. I was having a grand time though!

      Etta, Neil and Richard

    • #3606
      Matt Hayden

      I think the key is whether the instrument has adequate structure to stand up to steel strings without imploding and have good sustain while at the same time being light enough to have good volume and ring out.

      It’s kind of a high-wire act that balances structure and sound, and SCGC does it really well.

    • #3614
      Acoustic Soul

      Neil , yeah as Zorro said not all of them take years.. just all of mine that I’ve bought took a long time… the Italian took longer than sitka and it’s still not there.

      Also, yes do speak with Richard about this ASAP, there is no telling when he will retire!

      I’ve never played a OOO that’s not a santa cruz so I’m not sure, but definitely trust your hands… all the marketing pales in comparison to your experience after you play it for yourself and do comparisons!  I find their marketing is slanted towards finger style people more also, I don’t find that for strummer singers some of the wordings on the website for smaller guitars has been accurate to my ears.  Guitars respond differently to picks and fingers so they can’t describe it one way and expect it to be applicable to all is the issue there.


      Also, if I may suggest.. if you’re looking at a VJ…. definitely look at a VS because then you’ll have at least a guitar with a short scale and man oh man santa cruz does really well with short scale guitars in mahogany.

      H13 and Firefly are both really pleasing.  I had an EIR H13.. I wouldn’t recommend that – I would only buy a mahogany one but mine was a custom.  I find that rosewoods for me need 80/20 strings a lot of the times, and that wasn’t something I was aware of back then, so that might’ve helped my case with that guitar a lot.



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