Ben Morgan-Brown looks at another nylon strung ‘crossover’ electro-acoustic, this time from Germany’s Ortega
Following our recent review of the Vintage Roger Williams electro-acoustic crossover guitar, it seemed a good idea to stick with the nylon strung theme for our next review and look at another contender for your money – if, that is, you are thinking of the best way to get that distinctive nylon string sound and feel from a guitar with a pickup that you can easily gig with.
Ortega has been around for a few years now (it began in Germany in 1994) and prides itself on combining modern manufacturing techniques with traditional Spanish style guitar concepts. However, the model we were sent to review is quite a few steps away from traditional Spanish guitar style, not least by coming with the sort of pre-distressed finish which you might more usually expect to find on a Stratocaster! There is almost no point our passing comment on this as it’s purely a matter of personal taste whether you like this sort of finish or really thunk it’s best left to Rock and Roll guitars – or maybe left along altogether! The final decision here can only be down to the individual’s aesthetic sense.
As a guitar, though, the Ortega was pretty sound throughout. It has a solid spruce top, laminated mahogany back and sides, a mahogany neck and a blackwood fingerboard and bridge, no doubt in deference to the restrictions now imposed on rosewood.
Key to the instrument’s status as a crossover guitar is the use of Ortega’s own design of piezo undersaddle pickup and the company’s Magus Pro pre-amp. It ships with a decent quality gig bag and is pretty much a ready to go package. It also has a comfortable body size and neck profile, not to mention a cutaway, so it’s very much a guitar for gigging.
The finish on our sample was ‘OK’ Ben felt. There were some small flaws here and there but nothing that would inhibit the sound or playing of the guitar and perhaps they blend in with the overall distressed look, anyway?
Tonally, the sound was almost as unexpected as the finish, Ben described it as ‘down at heel’ but not bad – just low key and in a way that actually would work quite well with some musical styles. Plugged in, the piezo pickup was pretty average for the type but Ben did note a lack of response to bass frequencies. He was unable to determine whether this lack of tonal balance was a characteristic of just this particular sample or is just a design feature, so we’d suggest if you are interested in this guitar you should go and audition one to see how you feel about this aspect- something, in fairness, we’d suggest with any guitar you are thinking of buying anyway!
With a small body and a familiar D shape neck, while this wouldn’t appeal to a strict classical style player, for a singer songwriter who wanted the nylon sound and feel, this is certainly a guitar worth auditioning, particularly if you think the deliberately funky looks suits your image!
Ortega DSSUITE-C/E nylon strung electro-acoustic £528.00
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Colour: DTS distressed tobacco sunburst
Wood top: solid sitka spruce
Finish top: open pore, natural
Wood back: mahogany
Finish back: open pore, natural
Wood neck: mahogany
Finish neck: satin
Neck type: 2-way truss rod (Heel/Body connection on 14th Fret)
Wood fretboard: Blackwood
Binding fretboard: Walnut
Wood bridge: Blackwood (Ortega 12 hole)
Tuner: vintage style
Electronic: ORTEGA MagusPro-NL
Fret: 22 (curved)
Inlay: XII 12th fret
Scale length: 650
Nut width: 48 mm
Depth body: 85 mm
Pickup: Undersaddle Piezo
Rosette: ORTEGA SIGNATURE Mother of pearl / walnut / maple inlay
Strings: SAVAREZ 500CJ
Gig bag: included