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Orangewood is a new guitar brand that quickly became one of the top choices for quality, affordable acoustic guitars. Their guitars are a great example of well-built modern instruments that feel and play extraordinary. If you are after a new guitar without busting the bank, this Orangewood Hudson Review will guide you through one of the best choices.
My bottom line up front: The Orangewood Hudson and the Acoustic-Electric version, Hudson Live, are superb-sounding and well-built, affordable guitars. The most impressive feature is the high-quality Torrefied tonewoods, typical for expensive models.
With the big full sound of the Dreadnaught shape, the guitars are perfect for singer-songwriters, fingerstyle players, and every guitarist who needs an excellent campfire guitar and occasionally for shows.
About Orangewood Guitars
Orangewood Guitars started in 2018 in Los Angeles and immediately entered the market with their original touch, blending classic shapes and modern building techniques.
All Orangewood Guitars are priced affordably, even though the quality of the craftsmanship and parts compares to much more expensive guitars. The secret to keeping their prices low is their distribution model, where you can only buy new guitar models from their website and directly ship from the fabric. Cutting out the middleman is a great way to keep costs in check.
The Hudson Torrefied, also known as Hudston Torrefied Spruce, and the more expensive Hudson Torrefied Live are part of The Highland collection – a great example of what the brand offers. All solid dreadnought shape, Aged tonewoods, quality craftsmanship, and accessible price for the intermediate up to the advanced player.
- Dreadnought body shape, 25.5” scale length, 44mm nut width
- Scalloped racing, headstock binding, herringbone top purfling, thin natural Satin finish
- Vintage-style open-gear tuners with butterbean knobs
- Torrefied Solid Sitka Spruce top and Solid Mahogany Back
- C Shaped Mahogany Neck with Ebony Fretboard
- TUSQ Nut and saddles
- Ebony bridge
Hudson Torrefied Pros
- The tone is big, rich, and airy
- It has the look of a vintage instrument
- Easy to play modern neck
- It’s affordable
- Hard Case Included in the price
Hudson Torrefied Cons
- It can only be bought directly from the company
Hudson Torrefied Design and Built Quality
Even though it’s a modern guitar, it’s designed to look and feel like any good vintage dreadnought acoustic.
The Torrefied top gives it a slightly darker look, which makes the guitar a timeless classic mixed with the black fretboard and shape. Few added details, like the headstock binding and top purfling, add to the vintage feel you get when looking at the guitar.
Acoustic guitars are simple instruments, and you can tell much about the quality of the built by how it plays the first time you pick them up. It feels solid when held and like it could take a bump as any good old acoustic has. Fretwork is good, and even though there is nothing special about the craftsmanship, it just works and doesn’t leave space for complaints.
Orangewood Hudson Tonewoods
The highest praise goes to Orangewood for having fitted high-quality solid tonewoods in the budget Hudson.
The term “solid wood” indicated that only one piece of wood is used to build that particular part of the guitar. Solid tonewoods resonate more genuinely and contribute more to the guitar’s tone.
Budget guitars generally use laminated wood top and back that is made up of different layers of wood compressed together. While this technique assures the guitar is sturdy and affordable, it takes away much of the tone from the instrument.
The Hudson uses a Torrefied Solid Sitka Top, which is ideal for instruments due to its characteristics of projecting sound towards the listener. The term torrefied refers to the process of drying wood, so it is stiff, lightweight, and less affected by atmospheric conditions. Part of the classic look of the guitar and tone comes from this process.
Torrefied wood is commonly used for expensive instruments only. It essentially adds the necessary years of age to a modern guitar. That is why the first that I can think that defines the Hudson in both the look and tone is ‘old.’
The back and neck of the guitar are made out of Mahogany and painted with a dark brown color. Mahogany is a staple for many acoustic guitar builders. Different from Spruce, it’s a warm-sounding and more robust wood.
The Ebony fretboard is a very nice touch from Orangewood that replaces the need for the typical, yet now endangered and expensive, Rosewood. It’s very similar to Rosewood in the feel and very resistant to abuse.
Overall the tonewoods on the Orangewood Hudson are excellent and almost top-tier, able to match much more expensive big brand guitars.
Orangewood Hudson Tone
Discussing tonewoods without touching on the tone doesn’t fully portray the guitar’s potential. As you’d expect, the Tone of the Hudson matches the quality of the builds and of the tonewoods.
While trying out the guitar, it came naturally first to strum using a very thin pick. The guitar’s resonance vibrated my whole body, and an airy, well-articulated, woody G cowboy chord rang out of the guitar, sustaining for quite a while before fading into some friendly harmonics. It felt just as good as it sounded.
Switching on to fingerstyle playing, the guitar responded nicely to the touch and was loud enough for advanced players to play dynamically. It’s a loud and resonant guitar, primarily due to its dreadnought shape and size. There is plenty of sustain in single notes, and chords die out smoothly.
The only thing that is lacking about the guitar is that the bottom end is not as powerful and well-articulated as it would on a Martin expensive Dreadnought. The difference between the Hudson, the standard and live version, and a more expensive acoustic lie in the slight mid-range coloring, which is more punchy and sweet on expensive ones. However, you are paying less than 800$ for a guitar tone usually found for almost double the price.
The tone will satisfy both campfire guitarist, casual player and advanced one that needs a good guitar to go along with vocals. The only area where I see the guitar slightly out of place is on a very professional recording session.
Hudson Torrefied Spruce Live; What Makes It Better?
The Difference between the Hudson Torrefied and the Hudson Torrefied Live is the Piezo Pickup on the second one. For around 200$-300$ more, you get a very flat and responsive LR Baggs Anthem electronic system to use on stage.
The electronics are very resistant to feedback and extremely lightweight. I like this system because it doesn’t alter the guitar’s body and tone in any way. The controls include; volume, mix, phase, and a battery check. I don’t like how the controls are placed in the soundhole, right above the low E, and you don’t get a detailed Tuner or EQ.
I’d recommend this over the standard version only for working musicians that need the versatility of having a jack input. There are situations where having the guitar miced is impossible, especially on local shows.
For the added price, you could alternatively buy the Hudson Torrefied and modify it through a good luthier and a good piezo system. However, there is no guarantee that you will get a better result or save much.
Is The Hudson The Right Guitar For You?
If you have been playing for some years and need to replace your first acoustic with a better one, there probably aren’t many better options than the Hudson.
The Hudson will do great if you have plenty of other guitars but lack a good campfire guitar that you might also use to sing along in local shows. It also makes for a great space guitar for advanced players who need a guitar to practice or play for fun between recording sessions or touring.
As a session musician, I can say sure that any Dreadnought guitar is great for recording. Since we are talking about an affordable guitar, home studio owners and producers will find it the perfect guitar for laying down some good rhythm tracks.
If you need a very high-end instrument to carry the weight of an entire song or band, I’d suggest you look for a premium Martin or similar guitar for over 1500$ guitar. The main difference you will get is rare tonewoods, which sound and feel better even though they are still Spruce and Mahogany.
Is a Dreadnought The Right Guitar Shape For You?
The Dreadnought guitar body is iconic and part of the legacy of guitar builders for over a century.
It’s a broad shape mainly adapted into large body guitars. The most significant advantage is the full loud tone and prominent low end the shape gives. On the downside, the shape is not very fit for lead players since the higher frets are to access without a cutaway on the body.
The most common alternative to the Dreadnought shape is the Concert. Concert-shaped guitars are smaller and have less volume, and low end. Having a cutaway makes them better for lead players. Some players argue that Draughtaughts are better for fingerstyle playing while Concert-shaped guitars have more articulated strums.
Orangewood Hudson Alternatives
Choosing an acoustic guitar is a very personal experience as everything is stripped down to only you and the instrument. Some great alternatives around the same price range are the following.
The most recognizable Dreadnaught body guitar is probably a vintage model from Martin guitars. The company is regarded as one of the last century’s best and most influential US guitar brands.
The Martin 000-10E is an affordable auditorium-shaped acoustic-electric guitar that makes for a good rival to the Orangewood Hudson Live. This guitar has less low end than the Hudson, and its more prominent use would be for blues, country, and fingerstyle guitar. The built quality is similar to the Hudson, and the Fishman electronic system is on pair with the LR baggs for responsivity.
On the other end, I place the tonewoods of the Hudson slightly above the ones on the Martin. There is no better replica for a Torrefied Spruce top at this price. The lower price of the Martin testifies to that.
It’s only fair to put a Dreadnought against a Dreadnought. The Taylor Academy 10e is an affordable instrument from one of the most respected acoustic guitar builders.
The 10e has a big full tone like the Hudson and uses similar tonewoods. I’d give a slight advantage to the Hudson for having the Spruce Top Torrefied, even though that might not be enough to place on guitar over the other. The true advantage of the Hudson lies in the slightly more articulated and snappy tone.
When comparing the Taylor to Hudson Live, as two acoustic-electric guitars, the Taylor is more affordable yet delivers a similar experience. Both guitars are meant for the advancing player, and the slight difference in tone might not be enough to justify the extra tone.
Another great brand to consider in the affordable range is Teton Guitars.
Question: Where are Orangewood guitars made?
Answer: The guitars are made in China and later set up in Los Angeles before being shipped out.
Question: How long does Orangewood take to ship?
Answer: If you are inside the US, you will get your order in 3-7 business days. You can read all the different FAQs on the Orangewood website.
Question: What strings do Orangewood guitars use?
Answer: All guitars come with Ernie Ball Medium Light gauge strings and are set up for that string gauge. If you want to go with heavier strings, you probably might need a different setup.
Final Thought on the Orangewood Hudson?
Having access to this level of tonewoods and built quality at this price is rare, even in today’s highly saturated acoustic guitar market. The Orangewood Hudson and Hudson live are two exceptional modern guitars that feel as if they were vintage ones.
If you have enough budget for an affordable guitar, few other choices are better than the Hudson. The only downside is that you can only order directly from the fabric and might not be able to try one at your local shop.