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Orangewood Echo Live Review: Best Affordable Dreadnaught Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Orangewood Echo Live Review: Best Affordable Dreadnaught Acoustic-Electric Guitar

My favorite modern affordable guitar manufacturer, Orangewood, always brings surprising instruments to the table. An unbeatable price to quality ratio makes their guitars stand out from the many other options in the market. This Orangewood Echo Live Review is meant for the advancing player who needs the best affordable acoustic-electric guitar to play on stage.

My Bottom Line Up-Front: Yet another well-crafted instrument from the brand, the Orangewood Echo Live, is an excellent affordable acoustic-electric guitar fit for the stage. It keeps its promise of being well built and overall feels more expensive than it is. If you’re on a budget, I highly recommend it.

This Dreadnaught style guitar will surprise you with the Tonewood choice and big acoustic sound. It performs well when plugged in yet is not very flexible with its electronics. It won’t replace the confidence or tone an expensive instrument gives you on stage, but it’s hard to beat for the price.

Apart from focusing on the Orangewood Echo Live Review, I will guide you through other alternatives that might suit you best.

orangewood guitars

About Orangewood Guitars

Orangewood is an American guitar brand that produces its guitars in China. The brand is relatively new yet quickly built a reputation due to the surprising quality of their affordable guitars.

Visual flaws and faulty instruments are not a thing to worry about with Orangewood. Even though the instruments are made overseas, the LA shop is responsible for setting up the guitars before sending them to customers. Your guitar will arrive just as advertised; however, the downside is you won’t find one to try at your local shop, and It might be up to 7 days before your new guitar arrives.

I have played different Orangewood guitars for years, and I recommend them to every beginner and intermediate player. Depending on your budget, you could purchase a guitar that’s fit the stage, like the Echo Live, 

What Makes a Good Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Acoustic-Electric guitars are born out of the need to be heard on stage. While you can mic an acoustic guitar on a jazz gig, it’s tough to do so in a rock concert or with a cheap PA system.

Typically, a good Acoustic-Electric guitar should tick all the boxes a regular Acoustic should: a full resonant tone, easy-to-play neck, and some personal design taste. Good electronics won’t make a poor acoustic guitar sound great; poor electronics will make even the best Tonewoods sound flat.

The quality of the electronics is the next element to consider. The best systems are the ones that alter the acoustic tone of the guitar as little as possible. If the piezo and preamp are poor, the result is a bummy tone with a lot of bass and mid-range that you don’t need. The last element is the flexibility of the electronic. Having a multi-band equalizer, phase control, and tuner is always nice.

While acoustic electrics are great for the stage, I would not recommend using them in the studio unless you mic them.

orangewood overland guitars

Orangewood Echo Live Specs

  • Dreadnought body shape 
  • 25.5″ Scale length, 44mm Nut width
  • Layered Pau Ferro back/sides and Solid Sitka Spruce Top.
  • Ovangkol Bridge and Fretboard
  • C Shaped Mahogany Neck
  • Fishman Flex Plus-T EQ Electronics 
  • Bone Nut and Saddles
  • Gold Die-Cast tuners
  • Natural Gloss Finish

Orangewood Echo Live Pros

  • Loud guitar with a balanced tone for casual playing
  • Quality built reliable for the stage
  • Easy to play neck, already set up from the box
  • Affordable Instrument
  • Gig Bag Included

Orangewood Echo Live Cons

  • The Tone is not very rich and lacks a solid mid-range or high-end sparkle
  • The electronics are decent, yet the mid-range is slightly boomy or nonpresent depending on how you equalize when plugged in.
  • The electronic controls are basic without a mid-range or phase control.

Orangewood Echo Live Design 

I enjoy Dreadnought guitars like the Orangewood Echo Live due to the loud volume and resonance the shape provides. For affordable guitars with non-expensive Tonewoods, a Dreadnoughtshape is an excellent choice to give a richer tone.

This body design is great for strumming, and it will sit well against a small adult body. For a child, though, it could be too big. Going higher than the 15th fret will be difficult. So if the primary genre is your playing is rock, a Concerto shape might be best for you.

Visually, it’s a simple look with a well-done sating finish that makes it look more expensive, almost aged. Guitars of this price range at times look ‘new’ and polished, a look considered cheap by the most guitarist. The Solid Spruce used on the top is shared by many other more expensive instruments, making the Echo pair with them when it comes to looks.

Adding the pickguard, which comes non-installed, adds some contrast to the color and is helpful in protecting the body. Beware, though, as installing it will prevent you from taking advantage of the return policy.The guitar comes with two different looks. The Echo Vintage Sunburst Live is an excellent alternative to the classic Echo look if you like Sunburst guitars.

Echo Vintage Sunburst Live

Orangewood Echo Live Built Quality and Playability

Orangewood has a way of making their guitars solid at any price point. This Orangewood Echo Live review will demonstrate yet another solid build from the company.

The hardware used is basic; no fancy wood or metal is used from the nut to the bridge. The guitar keeps tuning stable and has a relatively low action. Having both is essential on stage and lucky for guitars of this price range.

I didn’t feel any bumps or bad fretwork running the hand along the neck. Some buzzing if you lower the action too much might always be present, but it will still be not a serious issue. 

The C-shaped neck is a modern choice and a good middle for players of all hand sizes and preferences.

It’s not an instrument I would take on an extended tour due to the stress transportation puts on it and the tone, yet I would consider it as a spare instrument if my Martin fails me. The Orangewood Echo Live is a guitar that can take a hit.

The guitar comes with Earthwood medium-light (12-54) installed. Keeping the guitar still easy to play with this gauge means it might be easier to play it with lighter strings. Consider changing them to lighter ones if they are hard to press or if you are new to guitar.

Rest assured that guitars won’t have any visible flaws if not for bad shipping. In that case, contacting Orangewood will solve your issue. A good setup at the local shop will most likely fix any inconvenience.

Orangewood Echo Live Electronics

The Fishman Flex Plus-T EQ Electronics installed on the guitar are basic ones that will get you through a local show. Although it’s not very flat and flexible, the guitar will sound good with good speakers and some equalizing of the low mids.

I will say upfront that the unplugged tone of this guitar is better than the plugged-in one. That’s not a surprise, though, as it’s a quality shared by even some of the best acoustic-electric models. When plugged in, the guitars lose some of their acoustic high-end spark and note separations. You will also need to EQ some of the ‘bad’ mid-range and boomy bass that the piezo pickup ads on budget acoustic electrics.

The lack of mid-range control makes it hard to control this issue. With a good amp or some work in the mixing board, you should be able to get a nice one of it even for a bit stage. The tuner, on the other hand, is excellent. It might seem ordinary, but a responsive tuner makes the difference between a smooth and challenging show.

orangewood guitar

Orangewood Echo Tonewoods and Tone

Considering the price, the Tonewoods on the Orangewood Echo Live are some of the best you can find. While Layered Pau Ferro is typical for this range, a Solid Sitka Spruce top is rare, if not unique to Orangewood.

Layered wood is made out of different plies of wood mashed together. The combination is cheaper and doesn’t contribute much to the guitar’s overall tone. On the other hand, solid wood contributes to the sound with all the wood’s capabilities.

A Sitka Spruce top is a fine choice that I was surprised to find in such an affordable guitar. It’s used even on premium guitars due to its qualities. However, the one used on the Echo is not aged Sitka Spruce, nor compares to the ones used in a $2000 Martin; however, it still adds to the tone.

The result of the combination of the warm Pau Ferro and Bright Sitka is a big well-balanced guitar sound with articulated strummed chords and plenty of sustain. It does not have that woody mid-range and punch on the bass like an expensive model, yet it is probably the best-sounding affordable Dreadnought I ever played.

The Tonewood of the Fretboard, Ovangkol, is a suitable replacement for Rosewood.

Don’t expect a sound to fit a stadium show or professional studio. However, You have all the tone you need for most local performances and home studio recordings. Dreadnought guitars are famous for doing well when recorded.

Orangewood Echo Torrified Spruce Live vs. Orangewood Echo Live

Orangewood Echo Torrified Spruce Live

The Torrified Spruce version of the guitar is the same instrument but with a better top and thus better projection of the sound. 

The Torrified Spruce sounds and looks like aged Spruce. The process of Torrifying dries the wood artificially, imitating the effect years of seasoning would have.  This guitar sounds slightly better, with a richer high-end than the standard Echo, but it’s not that big a difference and probably not significant for a beginner.

When plugged in, both guitars will most likely sound very similar as the electronics, amplifier, and PA system will affect the tone in the same way.

Orangewood Echo Live Alternatives

Orangewood Echo Vs Oragewood Echo LIve

Orangewood Echo

If you don’t need the electronics on the guitar, you can alternatively purchase the simple Orangewood Echo. Same guitar but without the electronics.

It’s cheaper than the Live version, and it might be good enough for a beginner. You probably don’t need electronics, even if you’re an advanced player that doesn’t play live.

Orangewood Hudson Toreffied Spruce Live vs Orangewood Echo Live

Orangewood Hudson Toreffied Spruce Live

 A notch up in quality from the same brand, you could purchase the Hudson Live. This guitar not only sounds and plays better, but it can be your main instrument. 

The Torrefied Spruce top is superior in quality and adds more to the guitar’s tone. The result is a richer-sounding instrument. The LR Baggs electronic in the Hudson is also more transparent. The Hudson is the best of two from any point of view.

The guitar is more than double the price of the Echo Live, so I’d advise you only purchase it if you are replacing a cheaper guitar or need a reliable instrument for playing on stage.

Yamaha FSX800C Concert Cutaway – Natural vs. Orangewood Echo Live

Yamaha FSX800C Concert Cutaway - Natural

This guitar is best for rock guitarists who need an instrument with easy access to the high frets and better electronics.

The Tonewoods on the Yamaha are not as good as on the Orangewood, resulting in a poorer acoustic tone. However, the electronics are better with a detailed equalizer that can save your tone in a live performance. The better preamp doesn’t guarantee that the guitar sounds better than the Echo since the second sound better acoustically.

I’d recommend the Yamaha only if you need the higher frets and are on a budget.

FAQ

Question: How are Orangewood guitars so affordable?

Answer: The E-commerce system in which you can only order from the LA shop and the manufacturing happing in China helps cut costs for Orangewood.

Question: Do Orangewood guitars come with a warranty?

Answer: All guitars come with a 1-year limited warranty. You can read the details on the warranty website.

Question: Do Orangewood guitars have a return policy?

Answer: Yes, you can return the guitar within 30 days as long you have the original case and have not installed the pickguard.

Final Thoughts on the Orangewood Echo Live

I will go as far as to say that the Orangewood Echo Live and its different versions could be the main guitar or spare guitar of every player besides professionals. If you’re not a pro and are on a budget, don’t hesitate to buy it.

The playability and Tonewood match that of more expensive guitars, while the tone still is decent for most settings. What could be improved though is the electronics, that even though perform well, are not flexible enough for a big stage. 

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