Originally posted October 27, 2021
This is the definitive 2021 Orangewood Morgan Spruce Live acoustic guitar review and I will answer a few very important questions.
- Is the Orangewood Morgan Spruce Live worth buying?
- Why did I return it for a refund?
- Why did I return a previous Orangewood I purchased? (That was the Mason Live, a more expensive model.)
Unlike other reviewers, I actually bought this Orangewood guitar with my own money. I was not paid for this review and I don’t get paid if you buy an Orangewood guitar from links on this page.
I spent ~10 hours playing this acoustic guitar before writing this review. This was sometimes a challenge because of the annoying fret buzz on the 2nd fret of the high E, but more on that later. The sound samples in the demo video were made with the guitar as it was sent to me and I did not have it set up, nor did I do any set up myself. Also more on this later.
Table of Contents
About The Author
Hey, I’m Karol (like Karl not Carol). I’ve been playing guitar for 20+ years, but I’m still an amateur and learning every day. In my younger years I played in a band, but nowadays it’s for fun.
Why should you listen to this review? Because I don’t care about selling you anything and I don’t get paid for this. I started Art Of Shred because I was unimpressed with the obviously biased guitar and musical equipment reviews online. Keep in mind, of course, that these are just my views. I don’t know everything and my opinions are my opinions.
Orangewood Morgan Spruce Live
Orangewood Morgan Spruce Live
Easy return process
Nice gig bag
Timely customer service
Costs $15 to return
If you’re in a hurry, here’s a video version of the Orangewood Morgan Spruce Live review. This written review is a companion to the video so reading and watching is best.
The Morgan Live is a Grand Auditorium Cutaway acoustic guitar with Fishman Sonitone EQ electronics. It has a solid spruce top, layered mahogany back/sides, mahogany neck, sonokeling fretboard, a bone nut, a bone saddle, and ships with a gig bag.
You can also get the Morgan Live with a mahogany top if you prefer a darker wood and the tone of mahogany.
This is all stuff you can find on the Orangewood Guitars website, but those are the basics none-the-less.
I had high hopes for this! I’d previously bought a Mason Live (same body style, but different electronics and a few extras like bindings) which I returned because it had an annoying overtone I couldn’t figure out. I talk a little bit more about that in my video review.
But I still had high hopes because, although I returned the Mason due to those annoying overtones, it was a nicely setup guitar and would make a respectable acoustic for someone like me. I am not predominantly an acoustic player, but I love the sound of acoustic guitar and have been wanting to experiment with more fingerstyle playing.
Anyway, my hopes weren’t so high that I expected a $250 acoustic guitar to sound like a nice Martin or Taylor, but my hopes were high enough that I thought I’d like it enough to keep it.
Sadly, right out of the box I noticed fret buzz on the 2nd fret of the high E. The 3rd fret was high and if you watch the video review I show a clip of my Fret Guru gauge rocking on the fret, clearly showing it’s not well set up. While I have the skills to fix this myself the promise with Orangewood Guitars is there guitars are professionally set up and ready to play out of the box. (After tuning, of course.) This was not at all the case.
No respectable guitar tech would give a quality control pass to a guitar with egregious fret buzz. My only guess is Orangewood is overwhelmed with orders like every other guitar company and they are cutting corners on their promises. No other guitar company promises a setup and ready-to-play out of the box so some credit to them for that. But you’ve gotta keep your promises, right?
So that’s why I returned this Morgan Spruce Live.
- Fret buzz at the 2nd fret of high E.
- Have to pay $15 to return the guitar even though they didn’t live up to their promises.
- $250 is a good price for this guitar if you get one that truly is set up and ready to play out of the box.
- It looks and sounds nice.
- The gig bag is good quality. Although this is kind of neutral for me since I don’t take my guitars anywhere and don’t need nice cases or gig bags.
- The return process is easy enough and their customer service responds quickly (less than a day).
How Does It Sound?
It sounds good! Both acoustically and plugged in it had a bright, but deep acoustic tone. Would I compare this to a high end acoustic guitar? No, of course not. But would I compare it to guitars in the $300-400 price range? Yup. Honestly, I have a feeling if you get a well setup guitar from Orangewood you’ll find it punches above it’s weight. That’s not to say you can’t find other decently sounding acoustic/electrics for $250.
How Does It Play?
The Morgan (and I believe all Orangewood Guitars) has medium sized frets. They don’t state this on their website (why?!), but I emailed support to ask. The action was good and it played well, all things considered (ahem, fret buzz). If you’ve played and liked other grand auditorium cutaway style guitars you’ll likely find the Morgan Spruce Live comfortable for you. Even though mine had fret buzz I made sure to put it through its paces and I played it for a good 10 hours over the course of 3 weeks.
Who’s It For? Should You Buy It?
This is definitely an entry level guitar, but if you’re an intermediate player who doesn’t often play acoustically then I don’t think you’d be unhappy with this guitar. (Again, if it’s actually set up well.)
Should you buy it? Well, that’s more difficult to answer. If you don’t mind that the electronics (volume and tone controls) are in the soundhole, and you want a lower-priced acoustic then maybe. If you’re looking to get a Martin or Taylor level guitar then definitely no.
There are other guitars in this price range that I have not reviewed but do like. Epiphone, Ibanez, and Fender all make decent entry level acoustic guitars in the $300 range. No guarantees you’ll get a good setup out of the box on any of those either, of course. Although maybe you’d be surprised. 10 years ago when I was living overseas I bought a cheap $100 Epiphone DR-100 (it’s now $170) and the setup was quite good. The tuners on the DR-100 were junk and it didn’t stay in tune for long, but the setup was decent!
All that to say, if you’re willing to spend $15 (the cost if you return it) then the Orangewood Morgan Spruce Live might be worth your while.
What Would I Upgrade?
Honestly, I don’t think I’d upgrade anything if I were to keep this guitar. If I was planning on buying a cheap acoustic like this to mod it I’d simply buy a more expensive acoustic instead. I get much more enjoyment out of modding electric guitars.
Well, I covered a lot of ground above. But let’s recap. The Morgan Spruce Live looks and sounds good. It’s not expensive. And if it was setup well I’d say it punches above its weight class. Mine was not setup well so I returned it, but you might get lucky and get a great guitar at a reasonable price.
Overall? Not quite a 6/10. Assuming the setup was good it’d get a 7. But I have no hate for Orangewood and will consider testing out another guitar from them in the future.
Do you own a Morgan Live? What are your experiences? Email me or leave a comment below.