Usually, I don’t give Chinese-made acoustic guitars a second glance. But when I saw that the Blueridge BR140 was made of all solid woods and retailed for $650, my interest was piqued.
The BR140 features a solid spruce top, solid Honduras mahogany back and sides, and a mahogany neck with an Indian rosewood fretboard and bridge. Inside the BR140 has hand-carved forward-X pattern parabolic braces.
Externally, the BR140 has cool Kluson style butterbean tuners, a “style B” MOP inlay on the headstock, black body binding, bone nut and saddle, and a spotted (“Dalmatian”) pickguard. In general, it has Martin vibe, with its vintage/tinted top, but with a few unique appointments – the smaller-profile headstock with mother-of-pearl inlay, and the funky pickguard (I like it, but an unscientific poll found only half of the people who saw it appreciated its visual appeal). The only obvious external construction shortcut are the plastic bridge pins.
From a playability standpoint, the Blueridge was a pleasant surprise. It has a nice, slim neck with low, fast action that, even under moderately hard playing, revealed no significant fret buzz. Typically, the sub-par fretwork (and requisite fret buzz) on imported guitars is masked by larger neck profiles and higher action. But the frets on the BR140 are nicely polished and level, with a slight dip in the fretboard after the body joint. The neck-to-body joint angle was also correct, allowing for the low action, but maintaining enough downward pressure on the saddle for good tone.
From the first strum of an open E chord, I was again surprised. The Blueridge has a big, open, natural tone with clear bass, even mids, and shimmering top-end. No matter where I played on the neck, the tone remained full and crisp. Even with an open- or drop-D tuning, the bass never got mushy or overbearing – just thumpy and full.
For the most part, I play fingerstyle. But I had a friend who flatpicks give it a try. This is where it really sounded at home; single notes were clear, with biting attack, and chords were loud and full, with good projection.
The BR140 is Blueridge’s mid-line instrument, with others offering solid Indian rosewood back and sides on up to solid Brazilian rosewood. The company offers the same wood combinations in 000-style bodies, as well.
You likely wouldn’t go out and sell your prized Martin D-28 to get a Blueridge. But on the other hand, you won’t have to sell a vital body organ to be able to afford one, either.
The Blueridge BR140 is a tremendous value, sounds great, and plays very well.
Type of Guitar: Acoustic dreadnought.
Features: All-solid-wood construction, Kluson-style tuners, MOP inlay, bone nut and saddle.
Price: $650 (retail).
Contact: Saga Music, phone 650-588-5558, sagamusic.com.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Dec ’03 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.