Build Diary: Preston Thompson’s 45 Style Guitars

Ever since Martin took a few orders for a Style 45 guitar back in 1902, musicians have been drooling over these instruments’ unique appointments. And, while presentation-grade guitars are not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s hard to argue with that original Martin aesthetic: A century later and we’re still talking about snowflakes, torches, ferns and backstrips. I don’t see us stopping anytime soon, either.

Over the last few years, Preston Thompson has quickly been earning accolades for his Martin-inspired guitars. So perhaps it’s no surprise that he’s attempted a few 45s of his own. Thompson’s builds are a mix of old and new school techniques and ingredients – Brazilian rosewood, dove tail joints, abalone and a thin Nitro finish are key ingredients but they also get a little help from a CNC with rosette pockets, initial neck shaping and bridge cutting. Here’s a glimpse at the process.

“Obviously we try to make every guitar sound the best it possibly can by graduating the top and hand carving the braces,” Thompson says. “On a 42 or 45 style with abalone all around the top, some people believe that the extra stiffness from the hard edge of the abalone improves tone. That’s an interesting theory but in all honestly I haven’t been able to play enough abalone top trimmed guitars side-by-side with herringbone top-trimmed guitars to formulate that particular opinion. These particular guitars exhibit superb resonance and outstanding volume, particularly for their size.”