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Orangewood Oliver Jr Review: A Great Backup Guitar

The Orangewood Oliver Jr is little, but is it mighty?

I have played many 3/4 guitars in my life. Honestly, the first guitar that I ever started off on was a bright pink Barbie 3/4 size guitar. I was a little girl ready to take on the world with my subpar rock skills.

Now that I’m many years older and have a lot more skill underneath of my belt, I love trying out all different types of acoustic guitars. To me, the acoustic guitar will always hold a soft spot in my heart just because of all the memories that I have of playing the acoustic.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate on the electric guitar or the bass guitar at all. But, the acoustic guitar and I just have a special relationship.

 So when I saw that Orangewood released a junior-sized guitar of their best-selling Oliver model, I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to try it out. After I clicked order on my Orangewood guitar, I waited (not so) patiently for the guitar to show up on my doorstep.

 After I got it out of the box, played around with it a bit, and put it through the wringer, I had some interesting thoughts. Is the orange would Oliver Jr guitar honestly it worth the hype that the Oliver guitar is known and praised for?

Bottom line upfront: I enjoyed the Orangewood Oliver JR guitar, but this definitely isn’t the best JR guitar I’ve used. I think this is a pretty good guitar to keep with you if you’re planning on traveling or just want to have something basic to keep with you at home. 

Orangewood Oliver guitar

Photo by Alizabeth Swain

Okay, so What is the Orangewood Oliver JR

I mean, if you’re new to the world of guitar or you aren’t super involved, it’s no big deal that you don’t know what the Orangewood Oliver Jr guitar is.

The Oliver JR is modeled after the Oliver guitar, which is a bestseller from Orangewood guitars. If you’ve been looking around to see if the spec on this guitar might be something that you’re interested in working with, I’ve got all of the features you need to know about below.

 At first, you’ll notice that the body shape of this mini acoustic guitar is a mini grand concert. As far as the physical build, the top wood of the guitar is made of solid mahogany.

The sides and the back are made with layered mahogany, which is likely used because it’s a much cheaper option than using solid mahogany all the way around.

But, in my opinion, this definitely makes a difference in the overall tonality of the instrument. Moving on, you’ll find that the neck is comprised of mahogany and is paired with a rosewood bridge, pickguard, and fretboard.

 The guitar is strung with Ernie Ball Earthwood medium light strings. I don’t think the strings are a big deal, but if you or just curious if you’d have to pick up an extra bag of strings the next time that you’re at your local guitar shop to restring this guitar, there you go. 

There aren’t any electronics on this mini guitar. I don’t think that anybody would really expect there to be any electronic, especially considering the price point of the instrument.

The neck is a C shape and has a scale length of 23 1/2 inches. The tuners are made with chrome diecast, but I don’t really think that this is a huge deal to anyone not looking into this guitar.

The length of this acoustic guitar is 36 1/16 inches. To finish up, the body has a scalloped X bracing and comes with a natural satin finish, which I honestly love on this model. Personally, my favorite part of this guitar and terms of manufacturing is that it comes with a one-year warranty. 

Unboxing

The Orangewood Oliver JR guitar showed up on my front porch in a brown cardboard box with the brand’s labeling on it. There wasn’t anything too fancy about it, but the packaging wasn’t discreet. At least I was able to show off to all my neighbors that I’m a cool kid who plays the guitar, right? 

When I opened up the Orangewood Oliver JR guitar box, there wasn’t a whole lot of padding to keep the guitar protected. I only had to pull out a cardboard sleeve and boom -there was the case to my guitar.

I was hopeful that there may have been some type of styrofoam inside of the guitar case to keep the guitar better protected. However, this wasn’t the case (no pun intended… or was there?) 

Instead, the Orangewood Oliver JR guitar was sitting comfortably inside of the lightly padded guitar case. Maybe Orangewood has some type of secret way they package their guitars to keep them safe during shipping. Whatever it is, my guitar arrived safely. Yay! 🙂 

Inside the guitar case was some light fabric padding. I really didn’t think too much of the bag that this guitar came with, But it’s not like this is a buying guide for the guitar case. The case did come with the handle and feet on the bottom of the bag. It’s a black padded carrying case with orange wood embroidered on the front of the case.

The Sound

Okay, so I think this is the part of the instrument most people care about. Personally, I thought the sound was a little bit surprising. Since this guitar is made with so much mahogany, I thought I would get a dark (and stunning) tone out of the Orangewood Oliver JR. But that wasn’t the case with this JR.

Instead, the sound was pretty bright overall. I did feel like the overall tone of this guitar was balanced, which was nice to see on such a small and affordable guitar. I know that it leads smaller body on the guitar, making it hard to get all of the full tones that most people expect to get when they’re playing a full body guitar. 

Compared to other mini guitars I’ve played,  I was looking for more sound out of the Orangewood Oliver JR while I was playing. I do think this may be because of how lightweight this guitar is.

And I wouldn’t say that this isn’t necessarily something that a beginner would notice. But, if you are somebody who already has experience playing the guitar and you’re just looking for a travel instrument, I would say that you would notice a difference in how lightweight this guitar is. 

sound of orangewood guitar

Photo by Alizabeth Swain

Playability

I found that the action was just way too high on this guitar. As soon as I pulled it out of the box, I found that I had some problems with my guitar’s action. It wasn’t a huge problem, and I can’t say that I didn’t expect to have some problems with the action out of the box. Once I got the action adjusted, I was much happier. 

I loved how easy it was to hold this guitar, but this may be because I have smaller hands. Playing the guitar has always been a challenge for me because of my small hands, but I find ways to make it work. However, my husband, who has significantly larger hands than I do, didn’t seem to have too many problems.

I think I was the most worried about how consistent the tuning with was going to be with this guitar. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Tuning wasn’t an issue with this guitar.

I was able to play around with it and be kind of aggressive without the tuning going crazy. Really, I only had problems with this guitar when it came down to aggressive picking. But I know there’s always a chance that a guitar will go out of tune when you’re aggressively picking, so I wasn’t too bothered by this. 

Pros and Cons of the Orangewood Oliver JR Guitar

pros and cons of orangewood guitar

Photo by Alizabeth Swain

Now that you have a better understanding of all that the Orangewood Oliver JR guitar has to offer, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of this guitar:

Pros

  • Payment plans are available for you to use if you aren’t able to buy this guitar immediately out of pocket
  • Orangewood has a charity program that donates to underfunded music programs 
  • Very affordable
  • Super lightweight
  • Bright and bold tones
  • Comes with a nice gig bag

Cons

  • This guitar isn’t manufactured in the USA
  • The action was a little high out of the box
  • Doesn’t have a great sound projection

Who is the Orangewood Oliver JR Best Suited for? 

Personally, I think this guitar would be best for a beginner or student guitarist. I also think this would be a good guitar to keep around if you’re looking for a backup acoustic to keep in your home or in your car. 

I have a couple of recommendations listed below just in case you don’t feel like the Orangewood Oliver JR is the best option for you. 

Other Alternatives to Consider

So if you aren’t a beginner guitarist and you’re still looking for a mini guitar, I have a few other guitars I would highly recommend you check out. 

Martin D JR

Martin D JR

This mini guitar is a dream to play. I personally LOVE the Martin D JR; it’s a guitar that’s really gotten me through the years. Even though this guitar is small, it packs a powerful punch in terms of the dynamic value it provides. It doesn’t lack the value and quality that Martin’s known and loved for either.

It’s a perfect guitar for anyone looking for a travel guitar that’s going to deliver on durability, quality, and tonal superiority. Plus, it’s super friendly towards your wallet too – what more could you want?

Taylor GS Mini

Taylor GS Mini

I love how this guitar feels in my hands; it’s got a deep body, so it feels (and sounds) like I’m playing on a full-sized Taylor GS. I personally enjoy how the midrange is favored on this mini, but it didn’t lack on the bass and treble ends either. Out of the box, this guitar is pretty easy to play.

I think this is a sturdy mini guitar for people who want something sturdy to travel with or keep around the house to pick up every once in a while.

FAQs

Question: Can I Find Orangewood Guitars in Store?

Answer: No, you can’t. Orangewood has a unique business model, where they only sell their guides online. That way, you can get your guitars for as cheap as possible since you won’t have to worry about paying the middle man. 

Question: Does Orangewood Guitars Offer a Warranty?

Answer: Yes! There’s a limited one-year warranty on all of their guitars. 

Question: Does Orangewood Offer Left-Handed Models?

Answer: Surprisingly, yes, they do. They offer left-handed versions of all of their popular guitar models. 
orangewood oliver junior

Photo by Alizabeth Swain

Final Thoughts: is the Orangewood Oliver JR Worth the Hype?

I think the answer to this question really depends on who is asking. Personally, I think this guitar is best suited for someone who is looking for a beginner-friendly guitar or for someone who wants an affordable guitar that’s easy to travel around with.

Have you played the Orangewood Oliver JR? If so, what are your thoughts?