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The resonator guitar reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!

259 reviews in the archive.

1981 Model 27 Model 27 Review

View all reviews for 1981 Model 27

Submitted by musekatcher (see all reviews from this person) on 3/7/2020

Where Purchased: Guitar Center

Year Purchased: 2020
Price Paid: 1000 ($US) (bought USED)


For my first squareneck, I wanted an early sound, such as heard on the earliest Grand Ole Opry performances. This one has it! Not much to add here, just that once adjusted and setup, it performs its function well, and sounds like a model 27.

Sound Rating: 9


Now that I've taken it apart, clean it, adjusted all the parts, including the spider, its very well setup. I learned some interesting things, as this one had never been apart. The factory setup was very good, fit and finish.

Setup Rating: 8


39 years of wear, smoke residue, and having never been cleaned inside or out, it cleaned up beautifully. The paint and finish were high quality, and released the scum and buildup very easily.

Appearance Rating: 9


All US original hardware is good quality. The tuners are good quality, albeit a bit stiff.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Guitar Center was very helpful with excellent packaging, fast shipping, and assistance with checking it out in the store before completing the sale.

Customer Service: 9


Original US made case is in great shape. Steels, strap and book all look original and period. Guitar parts are original and do not need replacement.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

This was a real find in my opinion.  These OMI instruments are sometimes considered less desirable, but this one demonstrates a great degree of craftsmanship.  The fit of every single part is precise, and tight.  The tunerss were extremely precise fit into the peghead, near machinist level fit!  The cone was precisely located and staked to the well - there is a bead of glue between the cone and well, but I believe this was used as a leveler, rather than an adhesive.  I decided to leave it, as it fit perfectly, and the cone contact was continuous around the perimeter.  I may remove the glue at some point.  After cleaning, the cone had a nice ring to it, right at F3 (173 Hz).  Corrosion was minimal, and there were no dents anywhere, except at the stake points of course.  The spider was fit pretty well, but I did take a little off the feet, by sanding on a granite counter top.  I checked for contact, and all was good.  The bridges were tight fit, full maple.  The slots were cut for half string depth, and tapered to provide a level playing surface on the strings.  The nut is plastic, but is pretty hard.  It was also properly cut.  I cleaned and replaced it, I may replace it at some point with bone.  The tail piece and cover had heavy deposits but cleaned up amazingly with some hot soapy water.  The poinsettia cover has honest wear near the picking path, indicative of plenty of play.  Same with the tuners and sound hole covers.  The body polished up well and the sunburst color came right back.  A touch of mineral oil on the fretboard improved the color and grain.  It now looks quite handsome.  There are minimal nicks and scratches, and the paint was thick and hard enough to manage them gracefully.  This was a high quality finish that has held up despite the attack of heavy smoke residue.  


I think this instrument, having never been apart, gives a more accurate testimony to the quality of instruments coming from OMI in the early 1980s.  After disassembling, I can see where less knowledgeable persons might loose track of the alignment and position of the cone, spider, and cover, causing fit problems when re-assembled incorrectly.   I'm sure things like the seating compound (glue?) under the [stamped?] cone, and the hard plastic nut might can be improved upon, but as originally supplied and intended, this instrument has large volume, good clean tone, and good sustain.  I will likely swap parts, being a tinkerer, but as it is now, its a fine professional grade instrument, fully prepared to perform to any players level.  Given the market prices, I'd say these are undervalued and underrated for those seeking a vintage sound from a US maker.  

Overall Rating: 9

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