While we are predominately a consumer technology website, sometimes we step away from the norm into territories of personal interest. I’ve been playing guitar since I was eleven. Mainly, I play for the church I attend and for personal pleasure. I am by no means a professional guitar player, but I do really enjoy playing every chance I get. So, when I get the opportunity to review a guitar, I usually jump at it. The Orangewood Mason Live is the latest acoustic/electric guitar that I’ve had the pleasure of using.
The Orangewood Mason Live is designed in California and manufactured in Indonesia. Much like Paul Reed Smith does with its SE line of guitars (though PRS guitars are assembled and made in Korea), Orangewood has them assembled in Indonesia and sent back to them in California. The company then inspects each Orangewood Mason Live and performs a setup on the guitars to prepare them for their customers.
Another unique difference between Orangewood and other guitar makers is that they only sell directly to the consumer. So, don’t expect to find an Orangewood dealer, you will need to order this guy from Orangewood’s website. Doing this helps the company keep the price low. Read on for our full review of the Orangewood Mason Live guitar.
The Orangewood Mason Live has the following features and specifications:
- Strings: Ernie Ball Earthwood Medium Light
- Electronics: Fishman Flex EQ
- Tuners: Gold Diecast
- Neck Shape: C
- Scale: 25.5″
- Nut / Saddle: Bone
- Nut Width: 44mm
- Bracing: Scalloped X
- Finish: UV-Cured Gloss
- Body Shape: Grand Auditorium Cutaway
- Top Wood: Solid Sitka Spruce
- Back / Sides: Layered Pau Ferro
- Neck: Mahogany
- Fretboard: Ovangkol
- Bridge: Ovangkol
- Pick Guard: Included (Optional)
- Gig Bag: Included
What’s In The Box
- Orangewood Mason Live
- Gig bag
- Ernie Ball strings already installed
Design is one of the key elements of a guitar. Before most guitar players even touch a guitar, they see it with their eyes. Nine times out of ten, most guitar players would probably not pick up a guitar that did not have some sort of visual appeal. In this case, the Orangewood Mason Live doesn’t veer far off from a traditional design.
The body is a grand auditorium style design that isn’t too thick nor too thin. It’s not a dreadnaught style guitar, nor is it a thin body. It falls somewhere in between. I found the Mason Live to be very comfortable to hold and easy to wrap my arm around. As a lead and fills player, I also appreciate the ample cutaway that allows easier access to frets below the 12th fret.
The playability was excellent on this guitar. Given its price, I wasn’t expecting it to be as great as it was. The frets were all spot on with no dead spots along the fretboard at all. There was absolutely no fret sprout, making it very easy to move your hand up and down the neck without chewing up your hand. Most guitar players will know that fret sprout is no fun and is often found on lower-priced guitars. The best way to get rid of fret sprout is to take your guitar in and have the fret ends rounded and polished. There are ways you can do this on your own, but you have to be careful. Thankfully, the Orangewood Mason Live had no fret sprout to speak of, and the neck was super comfortable.
As for what the Orangewood Mason Live is made of…it has a solid Sitka Spruce top, the sides and back are Layered Pau Ferro, the neck is Mahogany, and the fretboard and bridge are made of Ovangkol. The neck is C-shaped, and the scale length is your typical 25.5 inches. The saddle and the nut are both bone, which is fantastic for a guitar in this price range.
As for design accents, the Orangewood Mason Live sports an abalone rosette around its soundhole. It looks fantastic. The Mason Live also has very nice wing-like inlays on the fretboard, which gives it some character as opposed to just dots. This is also something most guitars at this price would not have.
It also has gold tuners with really well-done black covers that give it a nice two-tone look. The headstock has the Orangewood name along with a nice elegant logo that just completes the entire guitar. To say I was impressed with the look, feel and playability of this guitar is an understatement.
Even with all of these amazing features and specifications, Orangewood isn’t done yet. The company even includes a gig bag with this guitar and not just some cheap dime-store gig bag. It’s a proper gig bag with substantial padding and great craftsmanship. The gig bag itself is probably along the lines of a US$100 value and it’s included with the US$395 price. Outstanding!
Overall, the Orangewood Mason Live has a spectacular design, build quality, craftsmanship, attention to detail, and set up for a guitar of this price point. I’ve let players who use Taylor and Roberts guitars try this review unit out and they loved it, especially given the price.
The Orangewood Mason Live sound is outstanding and exactly what I look for in an acoustic guitar. It does not favor the low register but instead has a bright and shimmery sound. It’s a lot like what Taylor does with their guitars. I compared the Mason Live to my fathers-in-law’s Roberts guitar, and there was a noticeable difference in tone. The Roberts guitar had a darker, fatter tone while the Mason Live cut through better.
This doesn’t make either guitar better than the other. They’re just different tones from different builds, woods, strings, and setups. When comparing the Orangewood Mason Live to a similar Taylor, I found that they were closer in sound. The Taylor had a brighter register with better projection, but not by much. Given that the Mason Live is US$395, I honestly didn’t feel the Taylor guitars were that much better.
Orangewood includes the Fishman Flex EQ on the Mason Live and it is a respectable pickup system for an acoustic. There are better choices, but remember the price tag here is under US$400. The built-in tuner is also rock solid. I found it did the job perfectly and was super simple to use.
As for the sound plugged-in, this will highly depend on your amp. I don’t have a dedicated acoustic amp and played through the Monoprice tube amp which works great with my PRS guitars. The Mason Live sounded great coming through that amp, but it probably would sound even better using a dedicated acoustic amp or going directly into the house. I honestly used the Mason Live for acoustic mostly. Sometimes you just need to unplug.
Overall, the sound is fantastic. It was exactly what I was wanting in an acoustic guitar, on par with and sort of like the Taylors but without the crazy price tag.
Out of Box Setup
There is very little to do when you unbox the Orangewood Mason Live. It comes in packed in that amazing gig bag that is included in the price. It already has a set of Ernie Ball strings installed, and it seems Orangewood does an excellent job of setting these up before they leave their facility.
The only thing you might have to do is tune the guitar, which I had to do. Only a few strings were out of tune on this one. The built-in tuner makes that process a breeze. It did take a few plays for the strings to settle and for the guitar to stay in tune. This is normal for guitars as the wood takes time to adjust to your humidity and environment. Overall, you can basically unbox the Mason Live and start using it within minutes without any issues.
The Orangewood Mason Live is priced at US$395 with the gig bag included. This is an outstanding value considering the quality of the guitar itself, never mind the gig bag. I know each guitar player is going to have a different perspective and opinion, but I feel the Mason Live could easily be used to gig with and offers many features which guitars with double the price tag offer. The build quality is also excellent considering this price point. The attention to detail and care taken in setup is also a great value add.
Overall, this price point is most certainly spot-on for what you get. Orangewood is not only making a great instrument but they’re pricing it at an attainable price for most everyone.
There is so much YES here. I love that Orangewood designs these guitars in California. Sure they have them built in Indonesia, but they’re sent back to California for inspection and setup. That makes a huge difference in quality. As I mentioned before, Paul Reed Smith does something similar for its entry-level SE line and those guitars are fantastic.
The features and specifications you’re getting in the Orangewood Mason Live are worth far more than what you’re paying. I would recommend this guitar over any Amazon special as a first guitar or even for seasoned guitar players who may just want an extra acoustic to noodle on at home with. The Orangewood Mason Live offers you the best bang for your buck when it comes to acoustic guitars. Be sure to check out their website as they have other guitars without electronics that cost even less. You will lose some things like the abalone rosette and nice inlays but those are just eye-pleasing. The quality and playability of the guitars are still the same.
*We received a review unit of the Orangewood Mason Live for the purposes of this review.
Orangewood Mason LiveUS$395
- Beautiful design
- Quality craftsmanship
- High quality materials
- Gig bag included
- Needs practically no additional setup
- Sounds amazing
- Priced right with a ton of value
- I really do not have a bad thing to say about this instrument