In 1990, Steve Henderson and Larry Breedlove quit their day jobs at Taylor Guitars and moved to Oregon, where they set to work building their own. Through the decades, they made strides fusing new technology with performer-friendly builds, and introduced the guitar community to locally grown myrtle wood.
After experiencing financial setbacks, in 2010, Breedlove was sold to Tom Bedell, who was already building guitars under his own name and with the Great Divide brand. In ’12, Breedlove moved to a larger facility (in Bend, Oregon), where it builds an average of 2,000 guitars per year.
The Breedlove Pursuit Exotic S Concert Amber 12-String CE is a striking example. Using timber salvaged and harvested under the eye of owner Tom Bedell, the company says myrtle combines the best elements of maple, mahogany, and rosewood, and they back that claim by using it for the top, back, and sides of the Pursuit Exotic. The African mahogany neck has a slimmer profile, and the whole thing gets a hand-rubbed semi-gloss finish. There’s also an ovangkol (satin black) fretboard with 25.3″ scale. The result is an eco-friendly 20-fret wonder with exceptional tone and playability thanks in part to just-right string spacing.
Acoustically, the guitar is dynamic, with all the earmarks. Plugged in, its Fishman Presys I pickup exudes the same rich-but-natural qualities of the best 12-string recordings. The sound is a hybrid of traditional 12-string with a standard body size and the smoother, processed sound of a full-sized model coming through studio monitors; it’s a bright, resonant (but manicured) tone that can shine in any setting. Controls for Volume, Phase, and Contour, along with a Tuner give the user command with no fuss.
The Pursuit Exotic S Concert’s body contour, feel, and weight make a good fit for stage performer or session cat. Given its ergonomic shape and size, there’s a mental adjustment when switching from a standard instrument, but its sound and features make up for any temporary awkwardness. It’s the modern real deal.
This article originally appeared in VG’s February 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.