Where Are Breedlove Guitars Made? Are They Good?
Breedlove Guitars is an acoustic guitar manufacturer based in Bend, Oregon. Founded in 1990, it is still considered a young company in a market full of classics, but this does not make its history less interesting, nor its instruments a bad option. Breedlove offers a wide range of guitar models, including traditional designs and more modern, innovative styles.
Now Let’s talk about the history of Breedlove guitars.
Back strip of a Legacy Concertina Natural Shadow CE, made in Honduran mahogany
Brief History of Breedlove Guitars
Breedlove Guitars was founded in 1990 by Larry Breedlove and Steve Henderson, two Californian luthiers who left their jobs at Taylor Guitars to create their own company with the intention of producing guitars that combine traditional manufacturing methods with modern technologies. They established their shop in Tumalo, Oregon, in an old abandoned barn, and specialized in custom fingerstyle (to be played with the fingers) acoustic guitars of six and twelve strings.
They soon got to work, developing advances such as graduated tops, bridge trusses, asymmetrical headstock, and winged bridges that they used together with the introduction of new woods to the world of guitars, such as Oregon Myrtlewood.
In 1991 the first Breedlove guitar appeared on the market: the shallow body C-10, an acoustic guitar with an innovative body design called Concert. In 1992, the brand released five more models with three different body types based on the Concert design. These four body types and sizes became its flagship products and are what the brand continues to produce today. In 1994, Larry’s older brother, Kim Breedlove, joined the brand as a master luthier, and Larry returned to work at Taylor Guitars. Kim ran the brand for 25 years, guiding it through its path of advancements and improvements that included everything from refinements of traditional assembly methods to radical new body shapes like the legendary, angular Master Class CM.
In 1999, financial problems plagued the brand, and it was sold to a new owner. Peter Newport invested in the company and introduced Breedlove Guitars’ first imported models, the Atlas Series, produced in South Korea. This series was followed by the Revival series, which continued the line of innovative designs including dreadnoughts and orchestra models. These were not designed for fingerstyle, and meant a breakthrough in the brand’s design line, becoming key products in its history.
In 2010, the brand was once again sold, to Tom and Molly Bedell’s Two Old Hippies LLC. They moved the factory to Bend, Oregon, right next to Tumalo, and in 2012 they moved this factory to another one, also in Bend, where they were able to expand their production. Even today, much of the guitar manufacturing process is done by hand, by more than three dozen artisans working in Bend, producing up to 2,000 guitars a year.
Design Innovations and Distinctive Technologies Introduced on Breedlove Guitars
Let’s take a look at some of the distinctive innovations and technologies that Breedlove uses in their instruments.
Traditional headstock and asymmetrical headstock at the Breedlove factory. Bend, Oregon
This body design was already seen on the first Breedloves, the C1, and C2 models. Provides better access to the upper frets and greater comfort when playing
This design distributes the force between the pegs and the nut in a better way, achieving less tension and allowing the strings to move more freely both for tuning and playing.
It was a registered trademark of all Breedlove until 2018. Together with the asymmetrical headstock, it achieves the best tension distribution throughout the guitar. It is still available on custom Breedlove guitars.
Similar to Spanish guitars, this bridge design routes the strings through the bridge from the rear rather than the bottom. This keeps the string straighter and cannot come loose from the bridge as it happens when pins are used.
Final hand polish of a Breedlove Oregon Concert
Use of Myrtle Wood
Myrtlewood is a large hardwood tree found in the coastal forests of Oregon.
The Myrtlewood sound is the ideal blend of rosewood, mahogany, and maple.
This wood is very easy to work with and its sound is very clear, sustained, and with a high overall volume.
The frequency response of the guitars’ tops and backwoods are regularly measured, then the shape of the pieces and the thickness of the woods are adjusted for optimum tonal performance.
Tonewood Certification Program
It is a quality certification of the wood used, which consists of four principles: only dead or fallen trees or very old trees at the end of their life will be taken, the trees will be harvested individually so that the forest is disturbed as little as possible, only fully documented “treasured tonewood” pieces that comply with all Lacey Act and CITES regulations will be used and, finally, partner tonewood suppliers must commit to the principles by providing documents on the providence of origin of the trees taken. Some Breedlove models feature 3,000-year-old Sitka spruce woods that were once buried underground.
Model and serial number inside a Breedlove
Models and Price Ranges For Breedlove Guitars
Breedlove has a long catalog of models, and their prices vary between $350 and $1,200 for imported guitars, and $1,500 and $4,000 for those made in the USA.
Among those made in the USA, we can find the Masterclass, which are the most exclusive Breedlove Custom Shop models and limited editions. The Legacy are the best non-custom production guitars of the brand. The Premier are built with woods most commonly used in guitars, such as Sitka Spruce and East Indian Rosewood. And the Oregon, built with Myrtlewood on the top and back.
Among the imported ones, manufactured in South Korea, we can find The Solo, made with solid wood tops with laminated sides and backs, which has a port sound hole on the top side, from which you can hear the instrument directly while playing it. The Pursuit, also made with solid wood tops with laminated sides and backs, are guitars with an excellent price-quality ratio. Another model with a great price-quality ratio is the Discovery, they are also made with solid wood tops and laminated sides and backs. Finally the Organic, builted on sustainably-sourced wood. They are all-solid-wood guitars that feature FSC-certified exotic tonewoods and Oregon Myrtlewood.
Many models have already been discontinued, but they are worth mentioning as they are still excellent quality guitars on the market: the Journey, Exotic, Focus, American, and Frontier models, made in the USA. And the Atlas, Atlas Retro, Cascade, Passport, Studio, and Stage, within the imported ones.
Beyond not being as well known as the Taylor, Martin, or Gibson acoustic, Breedlove guitars are instruments of excellent quality, and their manufacture is carried out according to high-quality standards, many developed by the company itself. This is an added value that differentiates this brand from the others, that undoubtedly makes a difference, and is worth trying, when playing any of its models.
Source of the images: www.facebook.com/Breedloveargentina www.breedlovemusic.com