Orangewood connects with the next generation of players dedicated to represent women guitarists.
The stories have been unrelenting. Like clockwork, every few months a prominent media outlet declares that the guitar is dead, attributing the decline to a number of factors, including a perceived lack of male guitar heroes in the leather-pant-wearing arpeggio abusing vein, to the emergence of EDM, to paltry sales figures for new instruments, and my personal favorite–to the over reliance of reverb pedals.
Immediately, these think pieces elicit a range of reactions, all of which are inescapable because as a guitarist who probably interacts with other musicians, everyone you know has a thought they must transmit over every social media platform right now. The comment section becomes a sea of outraged emojis, bad puns about being a buzz killer (like fret buzz, oof), and links to videos of St. Vincent shredding.
Consequently, She Shreds editors then have to assign writers to publish thoroughly researched responses, like this exhaustive one, to dispel this myth. Not to mention, reach out to a top executive at Fender (thanks, Evan Jones) to provide information about how the guitar is not dying a slow death. All the while still acknowledging that, “there’s a very real need, however, to offer electric and acoustic guitars that acknowledge that guitarists—male and female—come in all shapes and sizes physically.”
A completely reasonable point, especially given industry data. In 2017, the Acoustic and Electric Guitar Manufacturing industry brought in $542.2 million in revenue, according to Rory Masterson of IBISWorld Reports. Within this industry, a staggering 37.3% (or over $200 million) of total revenue was attributable solely to the sales of acoustic guitars. To contextualize this, electric guitar sales account for a mere 28.0% of the industry’s profit.
Which is why it makes sense that some exciting new companies like Orangewood are emerging to meet the sizable acoustic guitar market’s needs. Officially launched in April 2018, Orangewood’s vision “is to make quality guitars more affordable and accessible for the next generation of musicians through the direct-to-consumer business model; no middleman means no extra markup.”
Motivated by a desire to, “inspire the next generation of musicians to play the guitar, and keep the popularity and integrity of the guitar in our culture,” Orangewood has been able to offer its high-quality instruments at affordable price ranges by operating as a digital-first company. In practice, this means that when you order a guitar from Orangewoodguitars.com, it’s shipped directly to you from them, professionally set up with Ernie Ball Earthwood Strings by technicians, completely ready to play. This business model has proven to be successful for Orangewood, as currently most of the models are sold out but will be fully re-stocked by holiday season.
Given the wage gap between female and male earners (which is even more drastic for women of color), offering a well-crafted and affordable product shows a commitment to inclusivity—an important value to the company’s founders, as evidenced by their commitment to representing the womxn guitarist community and track record of working with guitarists like some of our faves, Arianna Powell and Destiny Petrel.
In addition to the accessible price range, Orangewood is creating digital content that stands out to players of all styles, and more importantly, providing a level of visibility that’s few and far between in this category of our industry. At first glance to their Instagram page you’re met with a community of players that you can actually see yourself in. For the generation of players demanding inclusivity as the future, Orangewood is taking the steps to declaring it a reality in acoustic guitars.