Larrivee Om-3r

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Larrivee OM-3R acoustic guitar: A pleasant surprise

Aug 27, 2003 (Updated May 4, 2005)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Tight, punchy sound; good intonation; fun to play

Cons:Sound not as refined or liquid as that of more expensive rosewood OMs

The Bottom Line: The Larrivee OM-3R is a surprisingly good solid rosewood guitar for around $1000.

The Larrivee OM-3R is one of the least expensive ways out there to purchase a high quality solid rosewood OM-style guitar. The OM (Orchestra Model) is slightly smaller than a dreadnought, and is often described as a compromise guitar: one that can be used for flatpicking or fingerpicking. Martin's excellent OM-28 can be had for about $2000. Santa Cruz's even more liquid-sounding OM will set you back close to $3000. The Larrivee OM-3R retails for about $1350 and can be found for under $1000.

Larrivee's "3" series guitars are high quality guitars with ebony fingerboards, good attention to detail, but minimal appointments, to keep the cost down. The OM-3R is finished matte and has a clear pick guard. The neck is the standard (for an OM) 1 3/4" at the nut. In my lap, the OM-3R feels slightly more comfortable than a dreadnought, due to its smaller size, and slightly lighter than my Santa Cruz OM.

The sound of the OM-3R is tight and a tad punchy, with excellent sensitivity and sustain. In the Larrivee tradition, it is liquid, but not as much so as my Larrivee LS-05 (a small mahogany guitar) or the Larrivee D-05 (a mahogany dreadnought), another favorite of mine. However, the bass of the OM-3R is tight and firm, and a bit more pronounced than with Larrivee's mahogany guitars.

Compared to my rosewood Santa Cruz OM, the sound of the Larrivee OM-3R was comparable in volume and sustain, but it was not as refined or as liquid. Individual notes were punchy and direct, and chords sounded well-integrated, but the overall sound was a bit "coarser" than the sound from the more expensive Santa Cruz. Still, the Larrivee OM-3R sounded better than most $1000 guitars, and the good intonation made me want to keep playing. The playability was also good, in spite of the wide fingerboard. All in all, the OM-3R had a high "smile factor."

For whom might this guitar be an ideal choice? It might be the perfect guitar for someone on a budget who is looking for a guitar to gig with, to to take to bluegrass jams, AND to fingerpick during quiet moments at home. It is a bit woodier, more aggressive, and "pointier" sounding than Larrivee's marvelous 5-series mahogany guitars, but the rosewood warmth nicely balances the 3-series's slightly less liquid sound. I still haven't been able to track down a mahogany Larrivee OM-05 (a bit more expensive than the OM-3R), as it may sound a tad more liquid and refined, relative to the OM-3R, but I still think the OM-3R is a nice little guitar.

Some of the OM-3Rs specs are as follows (taken from Larrivee's website):

Single Piece Mahogany Neck (S. American)
Canadian Maple Body Binding
Symmetrical X-Bracing
Dovetail Neck Joint
Ping Tuners (18:1 Ratio)
Ivroid Fretboard Binding
Microdot Fretboard Inlays
Comes with Elixir Nanoweb Light Gauge Strings but will handle Medium Gauge Strings
Lower Bout: 15.25"
Upper Bout: 11.75"
Waist: 9.5"
Depth: 4.25"
Scale Length: 25.5"
TUSQ Nut & Saddle by Graphtech
Flat-Top Case Included

If I were looking for a high quality solid rosewood guitar in the $1000 price range, the Larrivee OM-3R would definitely be on my short list. Its sound is a touch more aggressive than that of my favorite mahogany guitars in or slightly above its price range, but its warmth, excellent intonation and playability make for a very likable instrument. I haven't seen that many OM-3Rs out there, but this guitar is worth a play if you're looking for an acoustic in the $1000 price range.

Update: Since I wrote this review, I've seen a lot more OM-3Rs out there. Actually, they may more often be called OM-03Rs. At least that's what I found on Larrivee's website. But it's the same guitar, and I stand by my recommendation. These are great guitars for the money. See also this review (same guitar; different Epinions "category") for a "second opinion":

Happy Picking!

Recommend this product? Yes

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