Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 25 - Jun. 2008
OM-30DB Pat Donohue
Many know Pat Donohue as the guitarist in The Guys All-Star Shoe Band on Public Radio’s popular A Prairie Home Companion, but that title does scant justice to the man’s remarkable talents and achievements. An extraordinary picker who plays jazz, blues, swing and folk with equal flair and often blends all four in his music, Pat also is a great songwriter whose compositions include dazzling instrumentals, droll parodies (“Would You Like to Play the Guitar”), insightful tunes (“Road to Kingdom Come”), and funny, true ruminations (“Stealin’ from Chet”). He has been a featured performer at major music festivals, recorded nine fine albums on his own plus a couple with buddy Mike Dowling, and received a Grammy Award for his contribution to Pink Guitar, which featured acoustic guitar arrangements of Henry Mancini songs. The late Chet Atkins called him “one of the greatest fingerpickers in the world today.”
A versatile player like Pat needs a versatile guitar. So when asked by Martin to collaborate on a Custom Edition guitar that would bear his name, he – with some assistance from John Woodland of Willie’s American Guitars – came up with a unique new design that blends the OM shape, scale and 14-fret configuration with a deeper body depth (1/2” deeper at the end pin than an OM) and an extra wide neck, plus appointments reminiscent of Martins from early in the 20th century. The Martin OM-30DB Pat Donohue Custom Edition is that design brought to life.
“I really like the OM design, but I also like bass resonance, so I went with a deeper body to get it,” Pat explained. “Many of the appointments came from early Martins I’ve admired. I’m excited to combine all these elements in a guitar of my own.”
The premium tonewoods on the OM-30DB Pat Donohue Custom Edition are stellar. The back and sides are East Indian rosewood for rich tone, while the top is rare Adirondack spruce for exceptional power and clarity. Scalloped 1/4” Adirondack spruce top braces enhance its balance and dynamic range. Evocative of Martins from the 1920s, the 1 13/16” (at the nut) modif ied V genuine mahogany neck with diamond volute features a slotted headstock with square slots and Waverly brass tuners with small ivoroid keys. Another nod to the 1920s is the genuine ebony pyramid bridge with wide – 2 5/16” – string spacing and a fossilized ivory saddle.
The appointments are similarly vintage inspired. Intricate multi-colored “parallelogram” Style 30 wood marquetry encircles the top and compliments the Style 45 abalone pearl rosette. The Style 30 wood marquetry backstrip looks spectacular against the rosewood. Bound with grained ivoroid and accented with black/white pur f ling, the East Indian rosewood headplate features the Martin torch inlay in abalone pearl; the back of the headstock displays the historic Martin pressure stamp. The grained ivoroid-bound ebony fingerboard bears Style 30 position markers: a Style 45 snowflake at the 5th fret, two slotted squares at the 7th fret and a Maltese cross at the 9th fret, plus Pat Donohue’s “P D” initials at the 12th fret.
The nut, bridge pins and end pin are crafted from genuine bone, with the latter two sporting abalone pearl dots. Aging toner on the top highlights the OM 45 Style nitrate tortoise color pickguard and grained ivoroid body binding. Martin’s flawless polished gloss lacquer finish on the body, neck and headplate enable the OM-30DB Pat Donohue Custom Edition’s subtle beauty to shine.
Pat Donohue has been obsessed with the guitar since he first picked one up at age 12 in his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota. Among his early influences were Delta blues guitarists like Blind Lemon Jef ferson and Rober t Johnson, and singer/songwriters like Bob Dylan and Steve Goodman.
After graduating from Marquette Universit y in 1975, Pat moved to Denver, Colorado, and rapidly established a reputation as one of the city’s top guitarists. He was runner-up at the National Fingerpicking Championship in Winfield, Kansas in 1982 and took top honors in 1983. In 1983, he returned to St. Paul and two years later released his first album, Manhattan to Memphis. Within a few years, he established his own record label, Bluesky Records.
In 1993, Pat was asked to join the house band at A Prairie Home Companion and he has been with the show ever since, providing tasty accompaniment for a “who’s who” of folk and roots musicians. He also appeared on-screen in A Prairie Home Companion, the movie by Director Robert Altman based on the radio show.
In addition to performing on A Prairie Home Companion, he plays approximately 30 concerts a year, records a new album every couple of years, creates an occasional instructional or performance video and teaches guitar at various music camps across the country. Pat’s latest album is Freewayman, a collection of original solo instrumentals – plus a couple of classics – that received fine reviews on its release in early 2008.
Delivered in a special Geib™ style hardshell case, each Martin OM-30DB Pat Donohue Custom Edition guitar bears an interior label personally signed by Pat Donohue and numbered in sequence. The OM-30DB Pat Donohue Custom Edition may be ordered with a 1935 style or other Martin sunburst top for an additional fee; a left-handed version is available at no additional charge. Authorized C. F. Martin & Co. dealers will begin taking orders for the OM-30DB Pat Donohue Custom Edition immediately.