View Full Version : Ozark tenor guitar

Martin Jonas
Oct-27-2008, 7:18am
I've just received my new Ozark tenor guitar, which I bought for GBP189 including a really quite good close-fitting hard shell case (normally GBP40 if bought separately) from Eagle Music (http://www.eaglemusicshop.com/details3.asp/ProductID/5462/sid/386/name/ozark-tenor-guitar.htm).

I've only just opened the parcel, so I can't say much yet, except that the first impressions exceed my expectations quite a bit. This tenor has a solid spruce top and plywood rosewood back and sides. The web listing doesn't give a good impression of size: this is a small-bodied parlour guitar, not much bigger than my baritone uke, and where the picture on the web makes it look quite blonde and modern looking, the most striking thing about it is its distinctly aged fake-vintage look. The finish is matt and notably thin, and the top has the dark tobacco stain of old spruce. No plastic binding at all -- the top, back and fretboard are all bound in maple, stained the same colour as the top. The bridge pins are rosewood with maple dots, again no plastic. The only plastic parts are the nut and the saddle. I'm not mad about the headstock shape, but again it works better in the flesh than on the photo and does quote old 1930s designs. On first glance, this does a good job in faking age; it does not look like a brand-new guitar. Seems well setup, with a radiused fretboard and nice low action. Adjustable truss-rod with a hex key through the soundhole.

All in all (and pending my actual playing it), this does appear to be great value, especially with the free case included. In particular, I would think it should compare well with the Gold Tone and the Martin tenors, which seem to be the main new models on sale in the US. With the recent drop of the Pound against the Dollar, and minus the 17.5% VAT which one wouldn't have to pay if ordered from the US, the Ozark price converts to $247, which is not much more than half the price of the solid-top Gold Tone TG-18 or the HPL-topped Martin. About the same as the all-laminate Gold Tone TG-10.

It's currently setup for CGDA, with cheap-looking bright bronze strings, but I intend to change it to GDAE -- just need to get a string tension calculator for the best fit of strings.


Edit: I've just noticed that Ozark's own web site here (http://www.ozark-acoustic.com/guitars/speciality.html) says it's a solid cedar top, rather than spruce as it says on the Eagle Music site. Because of the stain, it's difficult to tell what wood it actually is. The photo on the Ozark site also makes the top look much more blonde than it actually is. I wonder whether this vintage stain is a recent addition. Whichever, I rather like it -- it's really a good looking instrument.

Another Edit: Just noticed that I could have got it for GBP179 including HSC and free UK shipping from Highly Strung (http://www.highlystrung.co.uk/acatalog/Tenor_Guitars.html), i.e. about 10% cheaper than I got it.

Oct-27-2008, 1:15pm
That looks like a nice tenor, Martin. Does it say where it was made? (I'm guessing China)

Is there a truss rod in the neck?

Also, I wonder how much the shipping and US Import duty would be. When I bought my Hodsons from the UK those costs were quite substantial.

Martin Jonas
Oct-27-2008, 7:44pm
Yes, it's made in China. There is a truss rod, with a hex nut accessible through the soundhole, Martin style. No idea about shipping to the US -- last time I ordered in the opposite direction, it was $45, but that may not mean anything. I believe there is a fair range of prices for cross-Atlantic couriering, so it's worthwhile shopping around -- when I last shipped a mandolin to Italy, I was quoted prices from 20 to 80 Pounds.

It's a bit curious that there are at least two different models of decent cheap solid-top tenor guitars that are sold in the UK, but not in the US (the Ashbury and the Ozark). I suspect this is because of the recent popularity of Seth Lakeman in the UK -- his last few albums made the top ten in the pop charts and he plays a parlour-sized tenor (originally a vintage Martin, now a recent custom model with the same body size).