An unexpected and exciting new addition to Orangewood’s line that makes practicing much easier.
Cost: $345.00 new from Orangewoodguitars.com!
Overview & Final Score: 7.6
Acoustic bass guitars have long been something I found incredibly fun. The Orangewood Oliver Jr Live takes that idea and brings it down to a more compact and affordable package. This acoustic-electric bass has a 23.5″ scale length, Fishman Sonitone EQ, and a C-shaped neck that feels almost guitar-like. This miniature 4 string is controlled by tone and volume dials that sit inside the top of the sound hole, not easy but not hard to reach while playing. The Oliver Jr Bass Live features layered Mahogany back and sides with a solid Mahogany top. The Mahogany neck is covered in an Ovangkol fretboard, that pairs with the Ovangkol bridge. Plus all these features come delivered to you inside a plush gig bag as well.
The acoustic sound from the Oliver Jr Bass Live is good if unspectacular. The small body size and shorter bass scale does it make hard to get the huge, rich acoustic bass tones that a full size would offer. It’s not too loud and a bit muddy, but still perfectly fine as the practice instrument it was intended to be. Where the real extra points come from are the electric tones, which are surprisingly huge. I was shocked when I plugged this in and felt like I had a much more expensive, high output acoustic bass. If you really crank the volume, you almost get a hollowbody electric feel that easily goes back to a snappy acoustic once you roll down the volume and tone and controls just a bit. When cranked, I even layered on some distortion and had a ton of fun of with this little Oliver Jr bass.
But back to the clean tones, which were surprisingly snappy, responsive, and percussive when played through a cheap Fender Rumble. The Oliver Jr Bass Live is definitely great for couch players or musicians looking for a bass that’s easier to take around their house, hometown, or region.
Right out of the box the action was excellent, as was the fretwork which featured smooth edges and no fret buzz. The C-shaped neck was really fast and easy to slide up and down the neck. The only real complaint had to be that the smaller neck and frets take some real getting used to. Both me (a guitar player) and my roommate (a bass player) still took awhile to get used to the really small frets and neck. There was also this really strange rough patch between the 3rd and 5th frets, but everything else was incredibly smooth and fun to play.
Finish & Construction: 9
While the Oliver Jr Bass Live has to lose a point for the rough patch on the neck, everything else was in tip top shape on this acoustic bass. The action was great, the finish was spotless and gorgeous with a dark natural satin look that felt a bit “harder” than most acoustics . I was especially impressed with the tuning stability and impressive neck. The small size makes it super easy to transport, especially with the padded case. It’s gig ready in the sense that it feels reliable and comfortable when plugged into an amp, but certainly isn’t meant to be anyone’s main gigging instrument. Overall, it doesn’t feel like it will let me or anyone else down in anyway.
This score may seem harsh, but for me it seems hard to justify paying $350 for a travel bass guitar. As fun as it is, it isn’t perfect, and if this was a $300 electric guitar was a rough patch on the neck or a certain lackluster tonal quality, I may have been harsher. It’s a really great little bass that would be super convenient to have laying around the house or take on the road, but $350 is starting to move towards gigging instrument level. I do love the Oliver Jr Bass Live overall and will definitely be enjoying my time demoing it and playing it, but this is one of those instruments that I’m not begging the company to give me or sell me. If you’ve got the money to burn, you won’t be disappointed at all, I’m just not sure many budget minded players will be jumping on this bandwagon.
Good for: Beginners, Musicians Who Need A Compact Practice Bass, Acoustic Fans
Demos and UG reviews on the way, hopefully even faster than ever because of this lovely lockdown!