Sit down on your favorite chair or couch, close your eyes and let me hand you a carbon fiber acoustic guitar. I want you to feel and play it before you open your eyes.
It’s the new Blackbird Super OM and you’re going to learn three things right off the bat:
- It’s light weight – lighter than most wooden guitars you’ve played above a parlor.
- Its neck is really substantial front-to-back, almost round, and it’s finished with a clear gloss giving it an old-timey vibe.
- It tucks comfortably up against your body. It’s not a thin guitar, in fact it’s medium deep, but that belly scoop is perfectly placed.
Then you decide to strum an open G with a pick, and your friend across the room gives out an involuntary “whoa”! The neck feels like that’s exactly what it was designed to do, so you fall into a bass walking boom-chuck-a tune, and despite the fact that you know this thing is carbon fiber you can’t help but imagine taking it down to the next bluegrass get-together just to see your jamming buddies expressions. Its voice is quick and loud, and the box will hold onto a note just about as long as you want to let it ring. It’s a kind of OM cannon. Flat-picked rolls and rhythm strums… each note is nicely separate and sweet.
The frets feel medium-low. Their dressing is good. The board is flat and very smooth. You move up the neck for some barred chords. Arpeggios sound great up there. The intonation seems good. A cut-out makes access to the highest frets easy.
So now you abandon the flat-pick and start in on that finger-style blues thing you do. Here’s where this OM falls short in much the same way a dreadnought falls short and you realize you’re going to have to make a new category. Yeah, this is a smaller bodied guitar, but it’s clearly aimed at, and voiced for, the bigger flat-picked and rhythm Okinawa Flat Belly Tonic crowd. Its intimacy isn’t what you’ve come to expect from the Larrivee’s and Taylor’s of a similar size.
Your friend across the room is apparently really getting into it. You can here him tapping his foot. When you quit he says, “Wow, man. That was beautiful”. On a hunch, you pass the guitar over to him and ask that he play it finger-style for a minute.
Whoa! The guitar’s sound really opens up for the audience. The detail is even more crisp and inviting than what you’re hearing as a player. Good news and bad, but that’s the name of the game isn’t it? Trade-offs upon trade-offs.
And now that your eyes are open you can see that the Blackbird Super OM is like something Spock might have played in the original Star Trek if he’d been transported to a bluegrass jam on Xylon IV. Most of the body and the neck are glossy black with a tight carbon weave showing through. The bridge and Gotoh tuning pegs are matte black. But there are small fire-engine red highlights, such as in the offset sound hole, the headstock (with hollow neck opening), and fret markers. The Fishman VT volume and tone knobs barely peek out the side of the sound hole. And there’s a sound port on the side of the upper bout as well.