Well let's start with the 7 day love it offer. Took a chance and LOVE this OO and play it almost everyday. Yes, I have the major brands in my arsenal as well and it stacks up quite nicely. Now my go to for couch, porch, and back yard and just dropping by a friends house here and there. Really can't beat the great sound and playability. Very comfortable, light, plenty loud for jamming but you can also play it softly. Just can't go wrong with a Mac&Marr Guitar. I will be buying another early next year after I retire. GO FOR IT ! You have only a big win coming for your leap of faith.
I got my Opeongo a little over a week ago. Boy, do I like it. I took it to my guitar lesson today, and my teacher loved it, too.
You know how guitar people are - one is never enough. This is my fourth guitar: two Yamahas and now two Mackenzie Marrs. My other Mackenzie Marr is Canada 150 (which I have reviewed). I love it. It is a beautiful guitar. I mean it just looks great! And it has great tone. It is rich and very balanced from lows to highs. It is not quite as loud as my Yamahas. Not surprising since it is a somewhat smaller guitar. I like my Yamahas, especially my 45 year old L-5; but the Canada 150's tone is more balanced and mellower.
So what about the Opeongo? Why do I like it so much? Why is it the guitar I reach for first? Because it is just so comfortable to play. It is smaller and because it is smaller, I just fit around it better. I am not a small person (5' 10" and shrinking every year), but still the smaller Opeongo just fits better. And the Opeongo is so light! It's like picking up a ukulele. Please, don't misinterpret that! It doesn't SOUND like a ukulele, but every time I pick it up, I am struck by how light and comfortable it is. It is also very, very easy to play, easier than the Yamahas and even easier than the Canada 150, and ease of play was why I got the Canada 150.
There are goods and bads to the sound of the Opeongo. It doesn't have the richness of the Canada 150 or the Yamaha L-5, but there is something about its sound that is quite appealing. I find this particularly true for finger picking. It just feels and sounds nimble. Each note stands out. Maybe this is because there is less blending in a smaller sound box. I don't know. The technicians at M-M could, no doubt, explain it. But I will say that it is a wonderful guitar for finger picking.
Is there any downside to the Opeongo? Maybe two, to be completely honest. It is not a LOUD guitar. Again, I suspect that is result of the smaller soundbox. That is fine in most situations I am in, playing for myself or with a small group in a small room. It might not be quite so good for a bigger venue. By the way, I did not get the pickup installed into it, so I have to live with the volume of the guitar unamplified. The other downside is the length of the neck or placement of the neck on the body. My Yamahas and my Canada 150 have a total of 19 frets, with the body starting at the 14th fret. The Opeongo has 18 frets with the body starting at the 12th fret. This is not often an issue; however, today at my lesson, my teacher had a piece, part of which was played on the 13th and 15th frets. That works fine for the Canada 150 and Yamahas, but that 13th fret and especially the 15th are hard to get to on the Opeongo. Would I send back my Opeongo because of this? Absolutely not. There are not that many cases where this is an issue and, what the heck, I have 3 other guitars I can turn to. But, if you are somebody who likes to play high on the neck, this is not the guitar for you.
I don't want to end on a negative note, so instead let me end on this. The finishing on the guitar is beautiful. Everything fits together so perfectly. No rough spots. No bumps. Just beautiful workmanship. I even like the flat finish. It is a bit unusual, but just makes this guitar a little more special.
I give it 5 stars.
The Ian Tyson Inspiration
It took me about 30 seconds to fall in love with this guitar. As soon as I lifted it out of the case and plucked a few strings, I knew it was a special piece of work. The sound is amazingly dynamic with a rich bottom end and beautiful highs. It plays extremely well and the Florentine cut-away gives access to a repertoire that is seldom explored in acoustic guitars.
The location of the strap button bothered me until I tried it and it does give a better balance that I would have expected.
I also got the Anthem pickup, which also works extremely well. It almost captures the dynamic range of the un-amplified guitar - almost :)
Finally, there is a clear pickguard included that one can put on. I tried it but it's hard to mount without getting bubbles underneath and honestly it detracts from the look of the guitar. Besides, guitar is a tool not an ornament so a few scratches means it's getting used well.
The Ian Tyson Inspiration
WOW! I’ve had the Tyson for two days and I’m just now able to put the guitar down. It plays beautifully and sounds just perfect.
The tone quality is superb and the sustain is amazing! I’ve been playing since the early 1960s and can honestly say that I’ve never had a better “out of the box” experience…
I’ve currently got 10 6-strings and 8 12-strings and the Ian Tyson is my new daily player! If you ever make a 12-string, just send the first one to me!
Thanks so much for a beautifully crafted and set up instrument!
I bought the Opeongo 00 2 weeks ago. Initial reluctance to spend the money online on an untried instrument was allayed after several emails with John Marr himself and his assurance in the return policy. As it turns out, I love my guitar and they can't have it back.
This guitar ticked all of my boxes which included portability and comfort, wherever I want to play. The small size and the neck action are just what I wanted. I'm just an average guy who thought he deserved to treat himself and I'm so happy I did. These are reasonably priced acoustic guitars and I recommend that anyone wanting one should give Mackenzie and Marr a try. Heck, even the guitar case is a keeper and the guitar fits beautifully.
As I mentioned, I communicated with John Marr and he certainly impressed me as a man to trust. My whole buying process was professional, but also very personal. Thanks.
Gratitude Canada 150 - LTP
Once I made the commitment to learn guitar, to be really serious, to put in the time and effort, a couple questions inevitably arose: Should I spend the money to get a good guitar or should I just put up with the guitar I already have? And, if I opted to upgrade, what brand good guitar should I get?
I got serious about guitar about three years ago, at age 65. It’s never too late to start! I got myself a decent used Yamaha, signed up for weekly lessons, committed to daily practice and three years later am so glad I did. Not only is it a pleasure to make music, I also hear music in a different way now that I am making it myself. My music experience is much richer. I know I will never be a good guitarist, but I am good enough for myself and friends, especially for myself. Since I still work, running my own granola manufacturing business (www.grizzliesbrand.com), my commitment to practice varies with the days of the week. I do my best to get in a good hour of practice Monday through Thursday and two to three hours per day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That is enough practice to get better week by week, but it is also enough practice that I feel it in these old hands. Barre chords are, of course, the killers. My left thumb now has an ache that is just part of my life. It is also an ache I have to listen to so that I don’t injure it more. That limits my playing time.
I began to wonder, if I had a better guitar, would it make a difference? Looking at various blogs, there were two points of view. One is to simply stick with any old guitar, so long as it’s playable. The other is that a good guitar does make a difference. Nearly three years into it, I decided to take the plunge. I decided to upgrade to a new, better guitar.
Now the second question reared its head: which guitar brand to buy? Again, looking at blogs, the universal answer was that you simply had to go into stores or shop second hand and try a bunch of different guitars by playing them. The problem I had was twofold. First, I am very self-conscious. “Trying” out a guitar in front of someone – whether the seller is a store or individual – intimidates me. I cannot make a good judgment because I can’t relax enough to really get a feel for the guitar. The second problem was time. Playing a guitar for 15 minutes does not give me a good sense of what a guitar is really like. I need to try it for a more extended period of time, going over more of my repertoire to get a really good feel for the guitar. Then there is the problem of what brand? Am I paying for a name? For fancy inlay? Or am I paying for a better sounding, easier to play guitar? I remember my first guitar from the early 70’s – a Gibson. Boy, was it pretty! And it had that Gibson name. But, as it turned out, it was a piece of crap. After twenty years, I finally gave it away to someone else to wrestle with.
I’m a big Ian Tyson fan and, one day, poking around on Ian’s website, I saw him mention that MacKenzie Marr was making an Ian Tyson Inspiration guitar. That got my interest. So I logged on to the MacKenzie Marr website. They claimed that they could offer the best guitar for the price because they didn’t have to factor in middlemen’s costs. They also made a commitment to using solid woods rather than cutting costs with laminates or other materials. And they made the offer to keep the guitar for a week after receiving it so that the I could truly evaluate whether the guitar was right for me. That’s the “Fall in Love in Less than a Week” marketing pitch.
I ended up buying a Gratitude Canada 150. It seemed like the best choice among their models, particularly since MacKenzie Marr claimed it is “An Acoustic That Plays Like an Electric”. I made the plunge, and I am glad I did.
The hardest part was the wait. Yes, it was in stock, but it was also in Montreal, Canada, and I live in Eugene, Oregon. That meant a week just waiting for the guitar to travel from Montreal to me. On top of that, my timing was not ideal. I ordered it just before Quebec National Day, so that introduced nearly a week’s additional delay. Darn those Canadians and their holidays!! But, finally it arrived, getting to me on July 3. That meant I would have a nice long weekend to try it out. Darn us Americans and our holidays!
I was not disappointed. First, it is a really pretty guitar. The picture on the website does not give it credit. The maple veneer on the head stock is really striking, and works well with the light color of the spruce sound board. The attention to detail is evident. The maple binding is flawless and so much prettier than most bindings you will find. The mahogany back, sides and neck are handsome and offer a nice aesthetic contrast to the light spruce sound board, the maple binding and the maple head stock veneer. All in all, it is an elegantly simple look that suits me fine.
But what about the guitar itself? How does it sound? How does it play? I am very satisfied. The guitar is a bit smaller than my Yamahas (I have two). That makes it lighter and easier to hold. It also means it is not quite as loud as my Yamahas, but that is OK. It is plenty loud enough. And its sound is just sweet, balanced perfectly from lows through the midranges and into the highs. Wow! I like my Yamahas’ sound, but this is just so much better. Especially the mid-ranges. They fill out the sound without the bass or treble dominating. The sound is great.
What about playability? That is the best part. Finally, I do not dread barre chords! That about says it all. In fact, my thumb is feeling noticeably better after a couple weeks playing the Canada 150, and I have been playing more hours per day than I would have been playing the Yamahas. I now wonder what I will do with them. Good guitars. I figured that I would use the Canada 150 for home where it wouldn’t get battered and use the Yamahas as travelling guitars, but I can’t bring myself to go back to them. The Canada 150 just feels so damn good to play.
So, yes a good guitar does make a difference. How would I compare the Canada 150 to a Martin? How the heck would I know? The Martins are too dreadfully expensive for me to even pick one up. On the other hand, I don’t really care. I am satisfied with the Canada 150.
The Opeongo arrived a few weeks ago, delivered in a hard case in a well-packaged box with no issues. This is only the second time I’ve chanced buying a guitar online rather than taking it on a road-test first. I got a week to decide whether to send it back or not and clearly I chose for the Opeongo to stay.
I am familiar with 00 and parlour-style guitars. As you likely know, these terms are somewhat imprecise and can be confusing. The picture and dimensions on the M&M website is helpful - maybe this will help a bit more: This instrument is bigger than the somewhat skinny parlours that mimic the originals of a century ago. I have a parlour from the Godin Company that is smaller than the Opeongo. On the other hand, when put up against a 12-fret Grand Concert Taylor I have, it is somewhat smaller.
Like what somebody else said, I also expected a gloss finish. Keep in mind, the specifications on the macmarr.com website clearly say this guitar has a matte finish, so I have no room to beef. For me this was certainly not a deal-killer. I have a couple of other matte finish guitars, and as I pondered what I actually paid for this thing, the lack of a gloss finish quickly became a moot point.
Other than a 1967 Guild I own, I have no other steel-string guitar that is anywhere near this light. I’m convinced that is part of the reason the Opeongo has the volume it does. Sound is nicely balanced from lows to highs. The fit and finish were impeccable, including all glued spots, internal bracing, and the fit on the dovetail. The set-up was just fine to my liking. The action is medium-low, and the fretboard, frets and intonation were what you’d expect from a well-made acoustic. By the way, regarding the fretboard: I don’t think the website gives the radius in the spec’s, but it is rather flat feeling, suggesting the radius is pretty large. Now, that might not matter to many, but I fingerpick and can feel rather cramped on guitars where the nut is narrower than 1 3/4" or a radius that’s more curved. My fingers are not particular fat, but there feels to be lots of room between the strings, making sloppy contact with adjacent strings much less likely.
The edges looked a bit fragile as I first thought there wasn’t a binding on the edges. In fact, the binding is there; they just matched the top in color, and it’s wood rather than a plastic or synthetic binding material. (I paid extra for wood binding on a high-end guitar I own.) The spruce top, rated as AAA grade, really is top-notch regarding grain and appearance. This is an area where M&M has made a decision on quality that really pays off in appearance. It comes with a detached pickguard you can apply if that’s your thing. Personally, I wouldn’t want to detract from the beauty of the grain.
The guitar still smells very new, and the sound is typical of an instrument of newly cut wood and new strings, perhaps noticeable to the discriminating ear or when put up against a guitar with a few years on it to open up. I suspect the sound will mellow as the guitar begins to mature a bit more. The strings are D’Addario Exp, which may also influence the sound, and most of us have our favorites or try a few alternatives until we find the sound we’re looking for. I’ve played it up against several of my guitars, and John Marr is right – this thing really does have more projection and more low-end and sustain than one would expect from an instrument this size.
Balance, neck, etc. are all perfect for a fingerstyle player. Truss-rod adjustment is from the inside, so no truss-rod cover. No wrench came with it, but it looks like it uses a typical Allen wrench like you probably already have. (No adjustment of that was needed, by the way.) Tuners are open 18:1 Grovers. They also threw in an extra bridge pin in case you lose one when you’re changing strings, I guess. The pins look to be ebony. The locking arch-top hard case is nicely done with the M&M brand stenciled on the outside. Since the case is included in the price, that’s worth considering in regard to bang for your buck. I did not order the Baggs Anthem pickup. I guess I could get them to send me one for installation later.
Without mentioning other brands, if you read John Marr’s history of the development of the Opeongo carefully and then do a little web search of the Monterrey area, you’ll find a 00 online that looks quite similar in trim and dimensions (other than a ¼ inch difference in scale length) for a few thousand more from a boutique company. And I think that’s the bottom line here. For a lot more money, you can probably get a better 00 instrument, but when you compare this guitar to even higher-priced options, I think you’ll agree this is a heck of a value.
First impression was that it played great, is set up perfectly and fit and finish other than some very minor imperfections is quite good. I cannot tell that there is any twist in the neck.
I'm just not used to the sound of a new guitar. It is somewhat shrill and rough. In fairness, when ever I go to a retailer to play some new stock, I find similar issues with guitars that sell for 3 or 4 times the Opeongo. Further, the setups I've seen on these new and expensive guitars are almost universally woeful. My guitars, Martin and Guild are from the 60s and have quite a polished sound as do my Taylors from the early 2000s. It's not a fair comparison. I'm hoping that it will mellow out with some playing.
Looks like a keeper, so far, unless it suddenly self destructs.
The Tom Rush Naked Lady
I recently received my Tom Rush Naked Lady, and it is everything I expected it to be. Easy to play, a beautiful, rich, chimey sound that's also quite booming. I normally play with a pick but for the first day I just used my fingers and was very impressed by the sounds that I could make using just my fingertips and mostly chewed off fingernails. Ha! When I finally decided to use a pick, the bells chimed out even more. You don't have to strum or pick hard to be heard on this one. I went through my whole repertoire up and down the neck and hit every note. It's a fun guitar to play, you just don't want to put it down. As for looks, you can spend hours just looking at it, (and I'm not solely talking about the neck inlay). It is just gorgeous. From the high-altitude cedar top to the rosewood sides and back, to the tuning buttons. John Marr couldn't be more accommodating either. He made sure I was happy with my purchase and went the extra mile. I have Gibsons, I've played Martins and Taylors, but this is something different. Something unique. Thank you.
The Tom Rush Naked Lady
I have been a Tom Rush fan since 1962 and am familiar with his original naked lady guitar and it’s demise. When I read about the limited edition Tom Rush Naked Lady guitar (TRNL) available from MacKenzie & Marr in Tom’s recent newsletter, I immediately went online and ordered one as a Christmas gift for myself. I received it the week before Christmas and can honestly say I cannot remember being more pleased with a Christmas present.
Spoiler alert: I purchased my first Martin guitar over fifty years ago and presently own eight. My #77 TRNL is an exceptional value and of equal quality and performance when compared to much more expensive guitars from the major manufacturers. The action is excellent and the combination of beautiful tonewoods provide brightness and balance with a bass response that is not overpowering. I no longer plug in, so I cannot comment on the Baggs electronics, but if Tom likes them, that is good enough for me. I like the hard shell case and the combination lock (if I can remember how to set it) and the keyed lock which I assume meets TSA standards for travel purposes.
To sum it up, thank you M&M fo my TRNL!