Greg Bennett OM 5 CE

The folks at Samick present the Greg Bennett-designed OM 5 CE, a guitar that looks clean and solid, with minimal inlay (simple dots on the fretboard and tasteful abalone on the rosette), a smooth Venetian cutaway, and a smart-looking black headstock face. The real star of the cosmetics would have to be the deep, rich, mahogany back and sides, whose red wine hue conjures visions of classic Les Pauls and SGs. The 4-band EQ and onboard tuner are both welcome additions. The tuner actually sports a faux needle display that makes it easy to get each string in tune, although you won’t be able to see it on a dark stage. Battery access is a piece of cake but, because Samick didn’t build the battery door into the preamp, you have to put up with another piece of plastic on the side of the instrument. The accompanying circuitry is plainly visible through the soundhole. A couple of strategically placed wire ties would neaten things up.

The OM 5 has a full, loud sound with a good balance of highs and lows when strummed acoustically, although not a ton of depth or dimension. The high action and medium strings make it a tough shred, but there’s no fret buzz at all. This guitar is definitely one of the most powerful of the roundup, and it can really crank out some volume. Plugging into a variety of acoustic amps shows the OM 5 to be versatile with lots of tone-shaping options. There’s no notch filter so you’ll have to find some other way to kill feedback, which will eventually occur as you turn the Bass control up. That being said, this guitar is very resistant to feedback, which will prove to be a godsend onstage. Boosting the Mid slider brings in a little electric guitar mojo and will help leads cut through. The under-saddle pickup has impressive headroom and can deal with aggressive strumming no problem. My favorite amplified setting was a gentle bump to the Bass, Mid slightly notched, Treble flat, and the sweetly voiced Presence cranked. This gave a nice zing to the highs without emphasizing string squeaks. Lighter strings and lower action would make the OM 5 easier to play, especially higher up the neck, but players who want to bash thunderous open chords will dig it as is.