Breedlove Guitar Company is a small, independent gui-tar and mandolin builder in Oregon’s high desert region east of the Cascade Mountains.
Started in 1990 by Steve Henderson and Larry Breedlove, the company boasts of being “…pioneers in melding the best aspects of traditional guitar making with new ideas, appropriate technology and master luthier skills to create instruments with unsurpassed tone, feel and striking visual appeal.”
Big shoes to fill!
Anyway, Henderson is the company’s chief designer and innovator, while Breedlove’s older brother, Kim, is a master luthier and artist. Every Breedlove instrument is handcrafted and offers many options. The company strives to make its pieces exceptionally playable, and it succeeds – necks are slender and hand-rubbed, woods are naturally aged, and Breedlove is dedicated to using alternatives to endangered woods, so it offers a selection of nontraditional wood types.
Our test pieces were a C25 six-string, and a 10th anniversary Classic XII.
The C25 is a six-string deep grand concert acoustic with a soft cutaway, highly flamed myrtlewood back and sides, western red cedar top, maple neck, and ebony board. The flamed myrtlewood resembles maple, but with a yellowish tint and darker streaks that add nice depth. Everything on the guitar is framed in black and white multi-ply binding, and the soundhole has a beautiful abalone rosette. The fingerboard’s unique inlay portrays the company’s 10th anniversary logo – a hand holding the number 10 – spanning frets 11, 12, and 13.
The Classic XII ($3,999 with TKL hard case) is a deep 12-string jumbo with sharp cutaway, Sitka spruce top, striped ebony back and sides, mahogany neck, and ebony board. The striped ebony alternates between dark brown and black in a zebra-stripe pattern. Inlays include an abalone rosette and small pearl dots on the bass side of the fingerboard. The body, neck, and headstock are bound with multi-ply black and creme binding.
Tone and Playability
After a slight adjustment of the neck (the weather was very cold when we received it) the C25’s action proved almost perfect. Its flat, wide contour was extremely comfortable and easy to play, String spacing was conducive to fingerstyle playing.
The C25’s tone was huge in the bass register, with slightly less midrange, and mellow highs typical of a deep body and cedar top. A guitar this size typically does not have this much bass! For electronics, it has a Fishman Matrix Natural One pickup (with no controls). Plugged in to Trace-Elliot acoustic amp, the sound was very natural. Overall, the sound of the C25 matches its aesthetic beauty.
The Classic XII is flat-out one of the best 12-string acoustics we’ve ever heard and played. While it was in our possession, we had a number of discriminating players and collectors give it whirl. Every one was totally blown away! The chime of the treble strings was not sacrificed by the awesome bass, so the tone was very balanced. We’ve seen, heard, and played many other jumbos, but none had the clear low-end of the Classic XII.
Being a 12-string, you’d expect a huge neck, but we found the Classic XII’s very comfortable, not much wider than a six-string. And the action was almost perfect, with no adjustment necessary.
Both guitars’ bridge saddles were tall enough to exert plenty of pressure on the tops, allowing them to properly vibrate.
Overall, the Breedloves feature meticulous craftsmanship, attention to detail, incredible sound, and good looks. They’re not cheap…but what good acoustic is?
Breedlove C25 and Classic XII
Type of Guitar: Six-string deep grand concert, 12-string jumbo.
Features: C25 – flamed myrtlewood back and sides, western red cedar top, maple neck, and ebony board. Bound body, headstock, and neck, sound hole rosette. Classic XII – Sitka spruce top, striped ebony back and sides, mahogany neck, and ebony board. Abalone soundhole rosette. Bound body, headstock, and neck.
Price: C25, $3,600 with hard case. Classic XII, $3,999 with hard case.
Contact: Breedlove Guitar Company, (541) 385-8339, breedloveguitars.com.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Aug. ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.