Orangewood Guitars recently announced the launch of the Highland, a long-awaited all solid guitar collection to add to the lineup of Orangewood’s high-quality and reasonably priced acoustic guitars.
Orangewood describes the new line this way:
Inspired by rustic timelessness and sleek playability, Highland is Orangewood’s collection of premium guitars geared towards seasoned players, as well as loyal consumers seeking modern options under $1,000.
While I’m not sure I would have come up with the phrase “rustic timelessness”, I think I would definitely say that the new line has a classic vibe, going for straightahead quality without a lot of gimmicks or distractions.
Three models were announced as part of the collection: Hudson (Dreadnought), Ava (Grand Concert), and Sage (Grand Auditorium Cutaway).
Here at The Guitar Journal, we got a chance to test drive the Sage (Grand Auditorium Cutaway) model.
Key Features of the Highland Series:
- Top: Solid Torrefied Spruce (*intended to “to enhance the sound and stability with the look of natural solid wood and vintage-inspired tone.”)
- Back / Sides: Solid Mahogany
- Fingerboard: Ebony
- Nut / Saddle: TUSQ
- Tuning Machines: Grover Open-Gear Tuners
- Finish: Natural Satin Finish
- Optional Pickup: LR Baggs Anthem
- Starting price: $645 ($945 with the LR Baggs Anthem Pickup System)
We were interested in the Sage model because it looks to best fit the needs of a modern fingerstyle guitar player – that is, smaller body and cutaway for extended fretboard reach.
Our test drive of the guitar was conducted without pickups or amplification. Just old school sit-down-and-play in a variety of environment: brick loft office, home living room, and small practice room.
Here’s what we found:
- Guitar has solid construction, nice matte finish, even tone and intonation.
- Harmonics were particularly nice across the guitar. They seemed to sing out evenly from 5, 7, and 12th fret positions, as well as from artificial harmonics.
- Tone is balanced and mellow – more in the “Martin” world than the “Taylor” world if you’re in to those types of brand comparison.
- Tried it with a thumbpick, all fingers, and general strumming. While all were fine…
- …My favorite was to play with all fingers. The size of the body tucks in nicely, and with a mellow even tone, playing groovy fingerstyle (similar to this guy) or even gently fingerpicking seemed to give a great response. Percussive bits felt just right, and the response to light nuance was good.
- I didn’t feel the same reward with thumb pick playing. I didn’t get the pluck and snap on melody lines or the big bass chunk on the thumb picked lower strings. It was fine, but just didn’t give me ‘the feels’ the way the fingerpicking did.
- The looks of the guitar are classic and conservative. Standard herringbone inlay, understated wood grain, and quality tuner pegs.
This guitar feels a little like a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors – cost-effective, conservatively stylish, and comfortable.
Note: I didn’t test out the version with built-in L.R. Baggs pickups, so I can’t speak to the amplified sound. L.R.Baggs are usually a solid choice, though, and I’ve used them over the years so my expectations are that it has solid performance.
Where to Buy
Orangewood Guitars is a “digital-first” guitar company so, of course, you can go right to their website and buy directly (current price: $645.00 USD)
A hard case is included with every purchase.
While we tested the non-amplified version of the Sage, you can also choose to upgrade with the LR Baggs Anthem Pickup system.
About Orangewood Guitars
Orangewood is a digital-first B2C guitar brand based in Los Angeles, California with one simple vision – making quality guitars more affordable and accessible. Officially launched in 2018, Orangewood’s eCommerce-centric distribution model entails a direct-to-consumer price advantage and superior customer experience. We believe that music is the universal language with unparalleled ability to inspire, empower, and transform the world. As a new generation guitar brand, Orangewood’s mission is to revive guitar culture while giving back and supporting music education programs. For additional information about Orangewood, please visit orangewoodguitars.com and follow @orangewoodguitars on social media.
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