Big bodies, big looks, big fun Ozarks new 12-fret models combine bags of old-time vintage appeal with modern plug-in-and-go capability. Review by Jerry Uwins.
Ozark, as well known for traditional folk instruments as its guitars, introduced its first all-solid-wood Deluxes back in 2006. The initial six-strong range has recently expanded to 10, with new models that include the 3756 Dreadnought and the 3761 so-called Small Body. All but two of the Deluxes are Artec-equipped electros, with either four-band preamps or non-invasive endpin systems; our two models come with the latter. One notable feature of both is their 12-fret necks, more usually the preserve of vintage-style parlours and 00s and slope-shoulder slot-head dreads.
This rosewood-backed guitar may be modelled on square-shoulder Martin lines and have a spade not slot headstock, but it fully merits a retro tag, both for the neck join and its lavish yesteryear cosmetics. Inlaying the cream-bound ebony fingerboard is a sumptuous abalone tree of life (executed with precision thanks no doubt to CNC routing and laser-cutting), while similar shell is used for the rosette and purfling on the amber-stained AAA-grade spruce top. Other vintage accoutrements include a pyramid bridge and a set of open-back Grover Sta-Tite tuners.
The guitar is handsomely dressed in a faultlessly buffed all-over gloss finish, and has commendably clean internals too, with reinforcing strips around the rims affirming the all-solid build, but the effect is a little marred by two of the back struts being attached slightly askew laterally. It’s not anything that affects structural stability, though. The other minor crib is very little break angle left over the treble side of the saddle, raising a question about neck pitch. The action, however, is already reasonably low, so unless you wanted something super-slinky it doesn’t present a problem.
The 630mm-scale mahogany neck is a one-piece affair plus an added heel portion, and it’s been fashioned to a comfortable, fairly shallow depth with a gently V’d profile. Width and string spacing at the nut are moderate; in fact there’s a lot of leeway outside the top and bottom Es further up the fingerboard, suggesting that string spacing at the bridge could be broadened from its presently slightly tight 53mm without involving any re-design beyond rejigging the bridge-pin spacing. Even so, picking doesn’t feel cramped, and the guitar scores well for slick playability, helped by well-dressed fretting and the smoothness of the ebony fingerboard.
The 3756 isn’t the loudest or most deeply rich rosewood dread you’ll come across, but it has a pleasant, sonorous sound with well-balanced clarity, and the sunny, sustaining tone is adequately fleshed out by a smooth underlying low-end warmth. The Artec system does a competent job, though is let down on our sample by dominant top E and B strings, typical of (easily curable but irritating) output imbalances that often afflict undersaddle transducers. That aside, the system sounds reasonably natural save for a little nasality and piezoey clack, but these traits can largely be disguised by judicious EQ’ing at the amp.
The Ozark team would be wise to consider altering the neck pitch on these Deluxes, if only to give users more latitude at the saddle for personalising action heights. That aside, they've come up with a likeable, attractively retro-esque instrument - not only cosmetically but one that is an easy player. The guitars also appeal by offering 12-fret alternatives that are rare to find on these body styles and at these prices.