Guitar Interactive Magazine toggle menu

Review

Larrivee OM-02

Issue #52

The recently relaunched -02 series is Larrivée’s most affordable range of guitars, but no corners have been cut in their production - these instruments are made by the same team of luthiers in the same factory as their more luxurious models, and while the price certainly isn’t cheap, for a handmade American guitar from a team of elite builders it’s a bargain.
Nick Jennison

Pros

Superb hand craftsmanship
Sweet and detailed tone
Clean looks
Competitively priced

Cons

May be a little “plain” looking for some.

Larrivée OM-02

When Larrivée announced that would be reintroducing the -02 series, but now with even higher-end features than their previous incarnation, we at Gi magazine couldn’t wait to get our hands on one. So, does it live up to the hype? Nick Jennison has the details.

 


Larrivée is one of those special companies. In today’s climate of outsourcing, mass production and conglomerate ownership, Larrivée are a family run business steeped in history and integrity. Founded in Canada in the late ‘60s by Jean Larrivée, they still make guitars the way they did back then: in North America, by hand, from the finest solid woods. Now in his 70s and aided by his two sons, Jean Larrivée is still very much involved in the process. From traveling the forests of the world in search of the best timbers to getting down and dirty carving necks in their California workshop, Jean isn’t a boss or an owner - he’s a leader.

The recently relaunched -02 series is Larrivée’s most affordable range of guitars, but no corners have been cut in their production - these instruments are made by the same team of luthiers in the same factory as their more luxurious models, and while the price certainly isn’t cheap, for a handmade American guitar from a team of elite builders it’s a bargain.

The savings come from a combination of select materials and a more workmanlike aesthetic. There are no fancy inlays or outlandish rosette, and the whole guitar is finished in an unassuming thin satin. It’s not an instrument to hang on your wall and gawk at - this is a player’s guitar.

The reissued - 02 series features the same solid Canadian sitka spruce top and ebony fingerboard and bridge as it’s more expensive cousins, with solid African sapele used for the back, sides, and neck. Sapele is a member of the mahogany family, and while it doesn’t have the beautiful reddish luster of mahogany, it shares the same tonal richness and midrange punch. By using sapele instead of the more expensive mahogany, Larrivée can offer an instrument that features the same high-end construction and superb sound as their more expensive models, but at a significantly lower price. In a choice between laminate mahogany and solid sapele, it’s the latter every time for me.

The guitar arrived at GI headquarters in tune straight from the case and set up with a very comfortable action. I’m very fond of orchestra sized acoustics for their sweet sound and comfortable body size. The guitar sounds as crisp and clean as it looks, with a leaning more towards shimmering highs than booming dreadnought-esque low end. The midrange is complex and potent without being honky or cluttered. Dig in with a flatpack, and you’re rewarded with a satisfying bark, but a gentler approach reveals a wide dynamic range and vibrant harmonics. The wider string spacing is perhaps more suited to fingerstyle and hybrid picking, but I found it surprisingly easy to adapt to, despite being primarily and electric player myself. It’s a different experience to the current trend of electric-style neck profiles on acoustic guitars, but a very positive one.

Available in parlor and orchestra sizes, either with or without a pickup, the Larrivée -02 series offers serious quality and tone at a very competitive price point. It’s not cheap, but it is a bargain!

GI 52 Cover
Comments

Issue #53

Black Country Communion

Out Now

Read the Mag
Top