Review: Auden Artist Mahogany Julia and Artist Rosewood Julia

Auden’s popular singer-songwriter-inspired 00 model comes in two distinct flavours, but which should you buy?

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Auden Artist Julia
From a singer-songwriter’s point of view the Julia’s smaller body works beautifully

No longer newcomers to the acoustic scene, Auden Guitars offers reasonably-priced acoustic instruments for players looking for something other than the big USA names. With a loyal artist roster and a reputation for sound quality, Auden’s range covers a wide variety of body sizes and wood combinations. For this review, we have the Julia. This is a smaller-body guitar that Auden has designed with the singer-songwriter in mind, and it comes in two flavours: rosewood and cedar and mahogany and Sitka spruce.

Auden describes the Julia as a 00, which makes sense given its 14.25-inch lower bout, but the rounded, non-cutaway body is closer to a classical guitar outline than anything leaving Nazareth. The 14-fret neck-to-body join and longer 655mm (25.75”) scale length also set the design apart. Incidentally, the Julia is also available as a nylon-string model.

Auden Artist Fretviard

Both review guitars have an elegant simplicity, which serves to showcase the beauty of the natural materials used – solid wood binding and purfling, rather than plastic, features throughout. The Schertler 18:1 open back machine heads look the part, although they’re not always the most responsive. Both guitars come stage-ready with Brad Clark Supernatural active pickup systems, soundhole-mounted control systems and strap buttons fitted as standard.

The satin-finished African mahogany neck is carved with a gentle C shape. It’s a little slim for intricate fingerstyle but comfortable enough in the first position. Moving barre chords up and down the neck is smooth work, even for players with smaller hands. The fretwork is uniformly good with well-rounded ends, and while there is some finish overspray near the neck join, that is indicative of a glued-in dovetail joint constructed prior to finishing.

Auden Artist Headstock

The Julia is very comfortable to play both seated and standing, and from the singer-songwriter’s point of view the smaller body works beautifully. Large body guitars can often feel restrictive for singers as reaching over a bigger body can hamper breathing control and expression. That’s not a problem here! The smooth gloss finish on both instruments also makes the guitars a pleasure to work with when mic’d in the studio, with no extraneous noises and body rubs.

Mahogany moods

Auden Artist Mahoghany Julia (Sound Hole)
The Mahogany Julia has a heavy, dry and snappy character which is pretty sensational for blues and Americana textures

African mahogany has become a catch-all label for a variety of different woods including Sapele and Sipo. In this case we are dealing with a handsome set of Khaya with its characteristic grain stripes accentuated by a dark pore-filler. While this wood has been a popular choice for budget instruments over the years, it is an excellent tonewood in the right hands and shouldn’t be seen as a compromise. That said, any player expecting the rich warmth of a true mahogany guitar may need to adjust their sights, and budget, accordingly.

The AAA grade Sitka spruce top is a pleasing example, with some dark winter growth lines adding character. It looks good together with the Macassar ebony bridge while the abalone rosette gives the guitar a touch of more traditional ornamentation.

The first strummed open position chords on the Mahogany Julia reveal a midrange heavy, dry and snappy character which is pretty sensational for blues and Americana textures. Players used to a more conventional scale length may find that bends and vibrato demand a little more from the fretting hand, but the guitar really does encourage you to dig in with the Sitka top providing more than enough headroom.

Moving into DADGAD we find ourselves squarely in UK folk revival territory, with the mahogany Julia coming close to the woody voice of a vintage Fylde. The bass growls when you hit it just right and while the trebles are a little raw right out of the box, there is every reason to expect them to smooth off as the instrument matures.

Auden Artist Mahoghany Julia (Side)

Rosewood response

Rosewood and cedar is another established wood combination, especially among fingerstyle players, and it certainly makes sense to offer these woods as an alternative voice to Mahogany and Spruce. The Indian rosewood used for the back and sides of this Julia model is straight grained and beautifully dark, while the cedar top is accentuated with a simple but elegant rosewood rosette.

The tonal personality of the Rosewood Julia is smoother and more refined than its mahogany sister. There’s a breathy openness to chord work, especially with a lighter pick, and while it may not have the headroom of a spruce guitar, there’s enough volume to accompany vocals unplugged. It’s particularly effective in pop and R&B contexts.

Exploring open tunings confirms our initial impression that the Rosewood Julia offers a more modern personality than its sibling, with a sheen and immediacy to the trebles that make it a worthy companion for Antoine Dufour inspired solo playing as well as James Taylor style vocal accompaniment. In fact, it excels in any context where nuance and space are key.

Switched on

The aforementioned Brad Clarke Supernatural twin sensor active pickup system features a powerful soundhole-mounted EQ, with additional programmed presets for Thick Strum, Finger Pick, Solo and Thin Strum voices. The preamp sliders are a little fiddly to get around but in most instances we suspect they’ll be ‘set and forget’, without the need for much manipulation during performance.

The electric sound quality is good, translating the acoustic performance of both instruments into a lively, detailed plugged-in tone. The smaller body of the Julia also makes both guitars impressively resistant to feeding back. Auden ships its guitars with a composite saddle, which transfers energy into the pickup more effectively. If you’re planning to play predominantly unplugged, you’ll find a beautifully cut bone saddle in the pocket of the sturdy buckskin case, along with an invitation to visit the Auden workshop. That’s a really nice touch.

Auden Artist Pickup
Both Julias feature the Brad Clark Supernatural pickup system

Our time with both flavours of the Artist Julia certainly supports Auden’s recommendation of the guitar not only for singers but also for those guitarists who support vocalists on stage and in the studio. These are sweet-sounding instruments that have the dynamic and tonal range to bring a song to life.

Key Features

Auden Artist Mahogany Julia – 8/10

  • PRICE £1,299 (inc. hard case)
  • DESCRIPTION All-solid-wood electro-acoustic guitar, assembled in the UK
  • BUILD African mahogany back and sides, AAA Sitka spruce top, ebony bridge, African mahogany neck, ebony fingerboard, maple binding, maple and mahogany purfling, abalone rosette, bone nut, composite saddle (bone alternative supplied), Schertler 18:1 open-gear tuners
  • ELECTRONICS Brad Clark Supernatural pickup system
  • SCALE LENGTH 655mm/25.75”
  • NECK WIDTH 43mm at nut, 54mm at 12th fret
  • NECK DEPTH 20mm at first fret, 22mm at 7th fret
  • STRING SPACING 38mm at nut, 54mm at bridge 0
  • WEIGHT 1.7kg/3.8lb
  • FINISH Gloss
  • VERDICT A snappy, woody blues and Americana machine with plenty of headroom

Auden Artist Rosewood Julia – 8/10

  • PRICE £1,499 (inc. hard case)
  • DESCRIPTION All-solid-wood electro-acoustic guitar, assembled in the UK
  • BUILD Indian rosewood back and sides, AAA cedar top, ebony bridge, African mahogany neck, ebony fingerboard, maple and rosewood purfling and rosette, bone nut, composite saddle (Bone alternative supplied) Schertler 18:1 open tuners
  • ELECTRONICS Brad Clark Supernatural pickup system
  • SCALE LENGTH 655mm/25.75”
  • NECK WIDTH 43mm at nut, 54mm at 12th fret
  • NECK DEPTH 20mm at 1st fret, 22mm at 7th fret
  • STRING SPACING 38mm at nut, 54mm at bridge
  • WEIGHT 1.8kg/4.0lb
  • FINISH Gloss
  • CONTACT audenguitars.com
  • VERDICT A soft-spoken and sophisticated Cedar serenader ideal for contemporary styles

Like this? Try these

Auden Artist Mahogany Julia

  • Eastman E20 OM £1,459
  • Martin 000-15 Special Spruce Top £1,450
  • Taylor 314ce V-Class Sapele Sitka £1,849

Auden Artist Rosewood Julia

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