View Full Version : Sampling OMs

steve V. johnson
Jul-14-2004, 8:08pm
I've had the good fortune of a couple of folks sending me some nice OMs to meet, play, and learn about. Both of these are pretty young instruments, under 90 days old each, as I understand. Both are strung .012, .022w, .034, .044 with phosphor bronze wounds.

The Mid-Mo is a 22" scale M-70, the maple one with mahogany neck and rosewood 'board and bridge and bone nut. The top is bound in black and white layers and there is a really nice little b/w binding on the soundhole. List price is at $800.

The Trillium is a standard 23.5" with mahogany b/s and neck, spruce top and ebony 'board and bridge. The bridge has a bone insert and the nut is bone, too. The sounhole is bound in MOP or abalone and the whole instrument is bound in Tor-tis, which looks really great. The mahogany is even and tightly-grained and the quiet nitro' finish is splendid. The black-faced headstock is really well done, and the pretty Trillium blossom on the headstock is much prettier than the ones that grow in our woods. <G> The list price of this one is just under $2k.

The difference between the sounds of the two is really wide. The Trillium is a much more complex sound, with lots more overtones and a deeper bottom. The highs I would call 'silky'. The Mid-Mo is a much simpler sound but it's clarity and projection are great, and it has none of the stridency of a lot of new maple-box instruments.

In Irish sessions, both cut thru nicely among a bunch of guitars, a mando, a tenor banjo, whistles and several fiddles. The Mid-Mo really shone for melody work and jumped right up to the head of the class. The more complex tone of the Trillium was more apparent in smaller ensembles, and with a trio or quartet it's richness really came out.

IMO, the Mid-Mo could use a better bridge, and I think that a solid tailpiece would help with mid- and low-mid overtones, and the tuners are ... a tad disappointing to use. They held tune, but I needed to tighten them a couple of times to get them to stay smooth. In use there was a bit of play to the buttons, so they didn't inspire confidence. The maple is really pretty and the satin finish is very nicely done, even and smooth. This one belongs in American musics (imo!!), and is ideally suited to OldTime and Appalachian ballads, and could easliy fit into a blugrass session!

I got this idea that my 25.4" Crump B-II was just too deep and boomy, and got a bit tangled with guitars in Irish sessions, so I thought I should look at shorter OMs to complement it. After playing these two... I'm probably wrong. <GGG>

The cedar/rosewood Crump is not yet a year old, but the complexity of its tone and volume and projection are huge compared to the others. I would expect that, at a year or so, the Trillium (already a very noble instrument!) will be really impressive.
I have no real vision of how the Mid-Mo will age, and that makes me want to keep it, do some upgrading and see what happens. it's raw charm is infectious, and it got more attention in sessions than the Trillium, which sure surprised me! Maybe I'll keep it... ?

Here's a pic attached (I've not done this before...) of the current family and visitors: left to right, 1936 Kalamazoo K-11 mandolin; Trillium 23" OM, Crump B-II; visiting Flatiron mandola; Mid-Mo M-70 OM.

All the best,


Jul-15-2004, 1:25am
Nice Family photo! Thanks for the info Steve! I especially liked the description of your Crump.. They definitely do Boom...But with a very complex tone.

For a 23.5 scale, it seems that the Trillium is strung pretty light. Is it a carved top?

Maybe a bit heavier gauges would set it apart from the crowd a bit..what do you think?


Jul-15-2004, 4:41am
One note about the Mid-MO OMs. I assume the tuners on it were the standard ones? They do offer Waverlies as a 40 dollar upgrade when you order. Actually, they have several upgrade options on their website....including binding and Adi tops. You have me curious about these again.....


John Flynn
Jul-15-2004, 6:17am
They do offer Waverlies as a 40 dollar upgrade when you order.
Wow, $400 tuners for only $40! Actually, the $40 upgrade tuners shown on Mid-mo's site are Grover Sta-Tites. They are a great tuner value, BTW, but you can buy them outright for $25 a set if you shop around.

Jul-15-2004, 12:44pm
My understanding is that the Trillium is made with an induced arch top, but not a carved one.
Would that explain the lighter strings?

steve V. johnson
Jul-15-2004, 3:45pm
Nice Family photo! #Thanks for the info Steve! #I especially liked the description of your Crump.. They definitely do Boom...But with a very complex tone.

For a 23.5 scale, it seems that the Trillium is strung pretty light. #Is it a carved top?

Maybe a bit heavier gauges would set it apart from the crowd a bit..what do you think?

Thanks, Craig! I am so crazymadinlove with that Crump... <GG>

I got the string gauges from Robt Abrams via email. If it were mine, yeah, I'd make them larger. But the neck is so much narrower (1+5/16", I think) than I am accustomed to, that it's tough for me to imagine getting around on it on bigger, wider strings.

Make no mistake, it has a rich low end, and I'm sure that as the top gets regularly worked out, that it will fill in the bottom and low mids very nicely. It does seem to be a size and design that favors melody players (which I ain't <GG>)

For a player who does what it does, I don't think it will have ANY problem standing "out from the crowd". It's a noble instrument, of great quality, with a voice that won't really be confused with others.

I don't recall if I saw a mention of carving tops on the Trillium website. Back a few years when I was researching zouk luthiers, I found that Phil Nyberg, S.O.Smith, Stefan Sobell, and Phil Crump were the guys mentioning that their tops were carved, so those were the guys I concentrated on.



steve V. johnson
Jul-15-2004, 3:56pm
Re: Mid-Mo M-70

I just found out that I have this one a while longer! Woohoo!

And, I haven't decided whether to buy it or not, so if any of you feel really inspired (and lustful for it) let me know.

I'm convinced that these are a great, great value. While they don't have the hard, shiny finishes of the Pacific rim mfrs' models, I personally like them better. It's entirely possible that these will age much better than the Asian ones. Right off, the Mid-Mo is humble, and I think the look is... well, almost 'homely', and the sound is very much American (IMO), not Euro, and distinctly NOT an Asian knock off of either a mandolin nor an Irish bouzouki. At this age, this one has a really rootsy sound, and clearly has some development yet to come (but then, the Trillium is that young too...), it's not at all a 'mature' sound.

I generally prefer ebony 'boards and as I think I said above, this one might gain character and tone from a more serious bridge.

The basic thing is a great deal. I have no idea how deeply dealers can discount these from the $800 list, but given what's out there at that price, I'd MUCH rather have these than any thing else under a grand. Especially, really, really for American roots musics!!!

Yep, better tuners (smaller if possible, so that an Intellitouch tuner can grap the headstock w/o grabbing metal), bridge and (imo) tailpiece and one of these might be a serious. long term friend.

Great value, these. I was really, really curious about them because I was a little disappointed at the sound of the mandos, tho I haven't gotten to try one with the Wide fretboard option.

Forget those Asians. <GGGG>


steve V. johnson
Jul-15-2004, 3:58pm
Oh, one other thing... the bridge on the Trillium has a lovely, smoothly-shaped dip outboard of the saddle slots, and then another ... 'hill' at the ends. This provides a wonderfully comfortable place to rest one's last one or two fingers, instead of wearing a 'Trigger' hole in the top!

Nice job, Mr. Abrams! Great!

(Maybe I should get one of these for the Mid-Mo?!? <GG>)


Jul-15-2004, 4:36pm
Sorry. Slip of the mind and fingers this a.m. Yes, the 40 dollar tuner upgrade on the Mid-Mos are Grovers (good enough for me)!!! And yes, I suppose I could find them for 25 bucks, but who's gonna put them on? I can barely use my opposable thumbs. Oh, and thank you for further convincing me that I am slowly losing my mind. What can I say? It was early and I was in a hurry. Four hundred dollar tuners on an 800-900 dollar instrument does seem pretty funny though. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif BTW, I have only seen these Mid-Mo OMs discounted by about 100 bucks. Enjoy!


Steve L
Jul-15-2004, 6:17pm
What a great post! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful comparison with us.

steve V. johnson
Jul-15-2004, 11:15pm
What a great post! #Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful comparison with us.

Hey, you're most welcome!

It's all fun on this end, playing, comparing, writing, playing.

What a life! <GGG>

Thanks very much!