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I've had the Oliver Mahogany now for almost 2 months now. I have played it almost every day since then (trying to pick up the guitar again after a long hiatus). It looks good, sounds good, and is comfortable to play. I've have and have had more expensive guitars but so far this is my favorite. I'm very happy with it. I wish it were my first guitar.
Some of you guys might be in my shoes, so I hope this review is helpful. For your reference, I've been playing for the past 15 years or so and I'm not good at all, but I enjoy exploring and trying to perfect a couple finger-style bars that I've uncovered.
Anyhow, I was in the market to replace my daily driver(I only have a daily driver guitar) and after viewing Mary Spender's youtube video and hearing the Oliver in Mahogany, I had my sights set. I scoured youtube looking for reviews to cross reference and determined that most didn't sound as good as Mary's.
So, I bought a Martin DJR for $700. It sounded great with lots of low end and tons of resonance. The problem with the Martin was that the action was too high and my fingers began to hurt after about an hour of playing. Let it be known that I have delicate fingers. Regardless, ideally I would like a guitar that I can play all day without this problem. Sadly, only nylon strings have been able to fit the bill. So my goal with a steel string was at least 3 hours of comfortable playing.
With the Martin unseated as my daily driver, I began to look for another guitar and eventually found my way back to Mary Spender's video. It sounded SO clean and she said it was easy(comfortable) to play. After some thought thinking about the other videos with lesser sound quality coming from the Oliver, I eventually decided to purchase the Ava in Spruce. I figured pay more and get guaranteed good sound quality AND playability. It arrived and I strummed a chord. It sounded good and loud with strong resonance and low end, but a little boxy. The action was high and after 15 minutes, my fingers started to hurt.
I put it away and played it now and then for the next week, but there were no changes to its characteristics. Most importantly, it still hurt to play it. I reached out to Orangewood and asked if the Oliver had the same action and playability. They said yes it did and that all their guitars are finished to the same specs: strings 2.5mm above the bridge. So, I turned my back from Orangewood and was again on the look out for a good low end guitar on sale.
After several months of no luck, I received an email from Orangewood letting me know the Oliver is back in stock and out of desperation, I bought one. I can't believe it arrived the next day. Opened it up and it sounded tinny, but the playability was very high. It was a guitar that I could play for hours!
Excited on just that fact alone, I was willing to return the Martin I bought earlier even though the tone on the Martin was much richer. I figured my ears would adjust to the Oliver and I'd be fine. After playing the guitar for the past 3 days, I don't know if my ears adjusted from the Martin to the Oliver, but it sounds to me that it opened up and the sound changed. The tinny-ness is gone and it has good resonance. It sounds like the Mary Spender video, but just with less volume as the video sounds like it can fill a concert hall.
I can pick 4-5 strings is rapid sequence and hear all of them ringing in harmony. The guitar stays in tune and it looks great. Starting out as a skeptical buyer, I am VERY impressed with the Oliver and am SO happy I took the plunge and risked the purchase. The only drawback I would say is that the Oliver doesn't project well and is a medium on loudness. This is a problem if you are looking to play out. I am not and only play for myself, so all is good. The Oliver is a guitar that I WANT to pick up and play, unlike the Ava and the Martin which corresponded in my mind to finger pain.
Anyhow, that's my review and I hope it helps those out there like myself that are reading these reviews with filters on, not knowing if they are real or covert advertisements. I bought the Oliver thinking I was going to need to return the item, but I LOVE it!
And best of all, I don't need to treat it like a museum piece every time I play. If it gets scratched, who care? If it gets dinged, who cares? Once it gets so much damage it's unplayable, I'll just buy another one.
VERY HAPPY BUYER!
One last benefit I forgot to mention is the gig bag which has a lot of cushion and is high quality. I just came back from returning the Martin and as I was passing the aisles, I saw various gig backs, which were all of lesser quality than the Orangewood, for $99, $69, and $49. Almost half the price of the Oliver? Just for a lesser quality bag…
Bought this as a first learner guitar for my petite wife who has tried before on my full size with little success. The Oliver Jr.proved to be just what she needed. She loves the looks and I'm impressed with the quality of workmanship for such an inexpensive instrument. It did require truss rod adjustment which was easy and worked perfectly to get a straight neck. I only wish it had come with EB Silk and Steel light gauge strings!