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Old 04-03-2021, 07:37 AM
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Default NGD: Circa OM-18

CIRCA OM-18 #98

Itís with great pleasure that I finally report to you all on this amazing OM built by John Slobod in 2013. It happened my way back in October 2019, courtesy of TAMCO in the UK.






Straight up Adirondack spruce over Honduran mahogany, this stripped-down thoroughbred oozes poise and class. The top has a bit of bearclaw and the mahogany shimmers with deep ribbon figuring. Lovely stuff.






Johnís credentials as a craftsman are well established, so Iíll not belabor the point. This thing is as neat as a pin, clean as a whistle.






Iíve never had a guitar with a red spruce top, and beyond a mid-sixties Gibson all-hog B15 I traded away over 25 years ago, I have no real experience with a mahogany body. So what I expected from this classic tonewood combo was based on secondhand information alone: online recordings and the many opinions Iíve read over the years. What I expected more specifically from a Circa was based on two brief sessions Iíd spent with a maple 000 and a rosewood OM. I remembered those two guitars fondly, lightweight, great playability, full tone.






Almost immediately, it was clear that this guitar met those expectations, and then some. The red spruce/mahogany box projects with an extremely clear voice, while coating the notes with a warm woody halo. The sound is dry, with far fewer overtones than most of the guitars Iíve had, but thereís a lot of depth and sustain underneath the fundamental. Thanks to Mr. Slobod's ultra-thin nitro finish, it's a very lively instrument that renders all sorts of subtle nuances.

The mids have a solid presence without sounding too forward. The highs are full, and rounder than they are airy. The bass is taut and firm, not low and loose. Response across the strings and up the fretboard is nicely balanced and organic; the energy you put in is what the guitar gives back.






The guitar is very punchy, with bags of headroom. Everything remains balanced even under the most severe pummeling with a flatpick. And boy, can it can get loud!! At the same time, delicate fingerstyle passages offer a truly rewarding experience, for its more nuanced side is a thing of great beauty, too. Since thereís so much power and sustain on tap, long notes hold true and clear. With faster material, the mahoganyís dry resonance delivers runs of quick notes that remain distinct instead turning into harmonic mist.






The real show-stopper for me, however, is the thoroughly musical timbre of this guitar. It moves me in a way that inspires me to keep playing, on and on.

The only thing I wish I could change on this guitar is the neck profile. Itís not uncomfortable, and I can play all day without getting sore hands. But it is a bit of a handful and requires a little more effort than Iím used to.
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Old 04-03-2021, 07:49 AM
roberts roberts is offline
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Hi - John builds a great guitar and this one's lovely. I particularly like the way you're able to convey the guitar's tone. I can hear and feel it as you go through your description. Nicely done....Robert
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Old 04-03-2021, 08:01 AM
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Congratulations on your new guitar. There is a reason that the combination of Mahogany and Red Spruce is considered a classic!
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Old 04-03-2021, 08:16 AM
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Excellent review. John makes superlative instruments. As regards the neck, Iím finding that I like bigger necks on electrics. It might have something to do with spending so many years playing acoustic only. But having a deep profile with an acoustic width can be a bit of a handful for sure. Iím surprised to hear about one of Johnís guitars having a big neck, though. They are usually medium.
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Old 04-03-2021, 08:36 AM
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Congrats...
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Old 04-03-2021, 08:51 AM
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Timeless beauty! Thanks for sharing your NGD and may you enjoy it for many years.
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Old 04-03-2021, 08:58 AM
Richard Mott Richard Mott is offline
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“[T]he mahogany’s dry resonance delivers runs of quick notes that remain distinct instead turning into harmonic mist” is a perfect description of the wood and the builder’s approach—also an apt description of the limitation I’ve found in some more modern instruments with scattered partials. Thanks for the great the review!
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Old 04-03-2021, 11:11 AM
Scallywag Scallywag is offline
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Default NGD: Circa OM-18

I love the headstock. No alarms, no surprises. Everything in its right place.
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Old 04-03-2021, 12:00 PM
FormerFoodie FormerFoodie is offline
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Big time congrats on the Circa!

John's guitars are truly special and if you're jonesing for a more traditional/vintage tone, his guitars really hit that spot.

One day, I'd love to complete the tri-fecta and nab an adi/hog Circa OM for myself, but in the meantime, I'll vicariously live through you!
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Old 04-03-2021, 07:09 PM
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Such a classic beauty, congrats.
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Old 04-03-2021, 11:19 PM
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Congrats, DT! between Slobod and Claxton, I'd say you have your hands full! Oh, and I *love* the headstock!!
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Old 04-04-2021, 02:00 AM
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Deft Tungsman Deft Tungsman is offline
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Thanks everyone for your kind words!

While it wasn't a deliberate choice on my part, the fact that I waited for a year and a half before writing this review certainly helped me to get to know the guitar well and hone in on the key points that make this guitar so special.

The headstock? I agree with Scallywag and usb_chord. In its plainness it is perfect. Plus, it has so much attitude: "Headstock? You want headstock? 'Nuff said!"

In response to Juston's comment on the neck, I have no way of knowing if it's beefier than John's average neck carve. As I said, it's not uncomfortable. I suppose that I've just become spoiled. The neck on my Claxton OM is so perfect that my other guitars no longer feel as effortless to play.
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Old 04-04-2021, 05:00 AM
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Congrats! Spruce and Hog ... a great collaboration in wood. Can't wait for my Circa to start next year!
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Old 04-04-2021, 10:56 AM
steveh steveh is offline
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Gosh - I didn't realise you had that hiding under your bed for the last 18 months.

What else have you got under there?!

Cheers,
Steve
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Old 04-04-2021, 11:16 AM
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El Conquistador El Conquistador is offline
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Looks great. Congratulations!

Steve
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