Twelve-string sales ebb and flow in part with the popularity of a song featuring one. Orangewood Guitars aims to change such fickle trends with an affordable 12 that plays and sounds great in any situation.
The Echo 12 Live has a dreadnought body with a solid Sitka spruce top and layered back and sides made of Pau Ferro, a South American wood that looks and sounds like rosewood. It’s finished in a very high-gloss UV-cured poly. The two-piece mahogany neck has a headstock attached after the bend under the nut to prevent breakage. Both the fretboard and bridge are made of Ovangkol, a wood from tropical West Africa closely related to rosewood.
The neck has a moderate C shape with a 25.5″ scale topped with a bone nut and gold diecast tuners. Three Orangewood guitars have come through the door so far, and the Echo shares perfect fit and finish with its predecessors.
The 48mm nut is just nine percent wider than Orangewood’s six-string models, yet the string spacing avoids that cramped feeling common with 12-strings. The bass E string clears the 12th fret by just 0.066″, identical to the six-string Orangewood Mason Live, making barre chords no problem at the 10th fret.
Boominess can be an issue with 12-strings, too, but the Echo is remarkably balanced. Every string comes through loud and clear; the treble strings even have a shimmer usually reserved for much more expensive instruments. The Fishman Flex Plus-T EQ pickup system with a built-in tuner and controls for Volume, Bass, and Treble accurately reproduces every nuance.
The Live 12’s quality-to-value ratio is remarkable. If you’re looking to add a 12-string to your arsenal without breaking the bank, it could be a contender.
This article originally appeared in VG’s September 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.