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Alternative to Martin’s John Mayer OMJM Acoustic

recording-king-RO227

We all have gear lust from time to time, especially when you see your favorite artists using their signature instruments.  Usually these are instruments with hand selected materials, hand crafting, and unique embellishments that push the retail price up into the stratosphere for us common folks.  I have made it a practice to research, and research, and research, to find comparable instruments at prices almost anyone can afford.

I had fallen in love with the Martin OMJM John Mayer signature model acoustic for its classic styling, bright but flavorful tone, and friendliness to fingerstyle playing.  But a Martin north of $3000 wasn’t my the cards (and probably will never be).  So I began my search.  I examined what gave the OMJM it’s character: solid spruce top and rosewood sides and back, x-bracing, open-geared tuners vintage butterbean knobs, solid ebony bridge, beautiful rosette and ivory binding, mother-of-pearl peg dots and fret markers, and a vintage tint top.  Tall order for my $500 price range….

Then I found the Recording King RO-227.

recording-king-RO227-full recording king RO227 neck recording king RO227 hole recording king RO227 back

For those of you who don’t know, Recording King began as a house brand for Montgomery Ward in the 1930’s.  Based in Hayward, California, their instruments were developed during the Golden Age of musical craftsmanship.  They faded away along with many manufacturers of that period, but the brand was revived in 2007 by Johnson Guitars U.S.A. in Arizona and is a subsidiary to AXL Corporation.

The RO-227 is an OM-style acoustic with strikingly close specs to the Martin OMJM.  You can see the specs stacked up below, and I’ve highlighted the ones that they share.  Had I really found an American-heritage acoustic that measured up to my coveted Martin?  The crucial test of course: how did it sound?  The answer was: extremely good.  It sounds great – better than my $500 paid for.  Much better.

I will admit, I still love the OMJM.  I got some time with one at a wonderful little guitar shop in New London, CT a few weeks ago….and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a magnificent instrument.  There’s a character about it that’s alluring.  Notes just pour out of it and ring for days.  But people say the same about my RO-227.  The difference between the two is there, but slight.  Is it a $2500+ difference?…..absolutely not.

I can’t say good enough things about the Recording King RO-227.  If you’re looking for a classic OM-style acoustic that gives you practically the same materials, hardware, and vibe as the OMJM that won’t break your bank….this is it.  If you have found others like the RO-227, share it with us.

MODEL: Recording King RO-227

SPECS

BODY SHAPE: OOO-Style

TOP MATERIAL: Solid AA Grade Sitka Spruce

BACK MATERIAL: Solid East Indian Rosewood

SIDE MATERIAL: Solid East Indian Rosewood

TOP BRACING PATTERN: X-Bracing

TOP BRACES: Fully Scalloped Spruce

NECK MATERIAL: 1-Piece Mahogany

NECK PROFILE: Vintage V

NECK JOINT: Dovetail

FRETBOARD MATERIAL: Ebony

SCALE LENGTH: 24.9″

# OF FRETS CLEAR: 14

# OF FRETS TOTAL: 20

NUT MATERIAL: Bone

NUT WIDTH: 1-3/4″

HEADSTOCK OVERLAY: Rosewood

TUNING MACHINES: Gold, Open-Geared Butterbean Knobs

BODY BINDING: Grained Ivoroid

ROSETTE: Abalone

TOP PURFLING: Abalone

BACK PURFLING: none

FRETBOARD INLAYS: Abalone Snowflake

FRETBOARD BINDING: Grained Ivoroid

BRIDGE MATERIAL: Ebony

BRIDGE SHAPE: Standard

SADDLE: Bone

BRIDGE PINS & ENDPIN: Ivory with Abalone Dot

PICKGUARD: none

FINISH: Natural Gloss

ELECTRONICS: none

MODEL: Martin OMJM John Mayer

SPECS

BODY SHAPE: OOO-Style

TOP MATERIAL: Solid Engelmann Spruce

BACK MATERIAL: Solid East Indian Rosewood

SIDE MATERIAL: Solid East Indian Rosewood

TOP BRACING PATTERN: Hybrid ”X”

TOP BRACES: Solid Scalloped Sitka Spruce 5/16

NECK MATERIAL: Select Hardwood

NECK PROFILE: Low Profile

NECK JOINT: Dovetail

FRETBOARD MATERIAL: Solid Black Ebony

SCALE LENGTH: 25.4”

# OF FRETS CLEAR: 14

# OF FRETS TOTAL: 20

NUT MATERIAL: Bone

NUT WIDTH: 1-11/16”

HEADSTOCK OVERLAY: Solid East Indian Rosewood

TUNING MACHINES: Nickel, Open-Geared Butterbean Knobs

BODY BINDING: Grained Ivoroid

ROSETTE: Style 45

TOP PURFLING: none

BACK PURFLING: HD Zig-Zag

FRETBOARD INLAYS: MOP Dots

FRETBOARD BINDING: none

BRIDGE MATERIAL: Solid Black Ebony

BRIDGE SHAPE: Standard

SADDLE: White Tusq

BRIDGE PINS & ENDPIN: White with Abalone Dot

PICKGUARD: Tortoise Color – Beveled & Polished

FINISH: Polished Gloss w/ Vintage Toner

ELECTRONICS: Martin Gold Plus Natural 1 

3 comments on “Alternative to Martin’s John Mayer OMJM Acoustic

  1. Roddy Clenaghan
    July 19, 2013

    I can relate to every single word you’ve written. I’ve just got my ROS-627 (had it just over a fortnight now) and chose it for exactly the same reasons you chose your RO-227. The 627 has an almost identical spec to the Martin 000-28VS and I felt that with that specification it would be difficult to go wrong: AA grade sitka spruce top, solid East Indian rosewood back and sides, one piece neck with hand cut dovetail joint, ebony bridge, ebony fingerboard, hand buffed nitrocellulose finish… the list goes on. Like you, I read up everything there was to read about it and there was rarely a negative comment. The only negatives from some people were the ‘made in China’ and the V shaped neck. I prefer a wide, chunky neck, always have, and the ‘made in China’ wasn’t an issue. Recording King really does put a lot into their top end models and the woods are beautiful and the finishes perfect. It’s starting to ‘play in’ already and with that spec will only get better as the years go by. I’m really pleased wit it – again, like you, there was no chance I’d be in the position to spend £3,000 – £4,000 on a guitar and for £600 outlay I feel I can give myself a pat on the back for the effort I put into research and for choosing wisely based on an extremely well calculated risk. I now have the small bodied, 12 fret, slotted headstock guitar I’ve been pining after for years and being Scottish getting it for that price is a terrific bonus!

    • davealloway2001
      July 19, 2013

      Good to know others have discovered and are appreciating Recording King! It was a great find, and I love the instrument. And it’s also nice to hear from a fellow Scotsman (I was born in the U.S., but my grandmother came from “The Old Country”).

      • Roddy Clenaghan
        July 19, 2013

        With a name like Alloway I should have guessed – Burns country… just a few miles from Dumfries where I come from, I live in England now. Yes, it would be good to hear from others who have ‘lucked out’ with Recording King guitars, let’s hope you get more posts on this very interesting topic.

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This entry was posted on July 13, 2013 by in Instruments and tagged , , , , , , , .

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