Breedlove American Series D-SM and D25-SRe Herringbone

October 1, 2010

BREEDLOVE’S NEW AMERICAN SERIES instruments fill in the gap between the company’s custom shop models ($2,500 and up) and its Korean-made Atlas Series (most priced well under $1,000). The American Series instruments are made in the U.S., in the same shop as Breedlove’s boutique guitars, with the least expensive models selling on the street for $999. There are about 20 different models available, and each may be customized in much the same way that the custom shop models can, so there are lots of options.

As with Breedlove’s other guitars, the American Series instruments fall into two basic design camps: Original and Revival. The Originals combine longer and thinner bass sides with thicker and shorter treble sides to increase low and high frequency resonance, respectively. They also employ a bridge truss system that allows more relaxed soundboard movement, coupled with a pinless bridge and a special scalloped bracing for greater overall tonal balance and sustain. The Revivals are more traditionally styled, and feature graduated top thicknesses, lightweight scalloped, forward-shifted X-bracing, and pinned bridges.

The first thing I noticed upon opening the deluxe hardshell cases that our two review guitars came in was the smell of wood and glue—so these babies were fresh off the workbench—but the odors dissipated quickly once they had a chance to air out. Both instruments were quite attractive, and my initial impression while holding them was that they were solidly constructed and carefully detailed throughout.

D/SM

The D/SM is a Revival-style dreadnought guitar with mahogany back, sides, and neck, and a semi-gloss finish. Its solid Sitka spruce top boasts a high-gloss finish and is adorned with a tasteful American abalone rosette, a turtle-shell-colored pickguard, and a rosewood bridge with black pins that matches the rosewood overlay on the headstock. There’s a one-piece mahogany neck with a rosewood fretboard and 20 standard frets. Vintage-style tuners on the Martin-like headstock and scalloped “pre-war” X-bracing inside continue the Revival theme.

This guitar was constructed from beautiful woods, and the workmanship was flawless. The black binding, the rosewood headstock and heel caps, and all of the inlays were immaculately cut and fitted. The frets were evenly trimmed and placed, with their crowns nicely rounded and polished. Even the inside of the guitar was tidy and evidenced obvious care to detail.

Playing the D/SM was a joy. The medium-thick neck facilitated quick movement, and the relatively low action made for easy playability, while not being so low as to cause buzzes or dead spots. The intonation was also excellent throughout. And while there was some slight compression when played aggressively, the tone was deep and rich, yet with a very nice balance between the low, mid, and high frequencies—whether played fingerstyle or with a pick—and the overall liveliness of the sound was quite inspiring. That’s not something that can be said about many guitars that sell at this price point, which is why the D/SM receives an Editors’ Pick Award.

SPECIFICATIONS

CONTACT Breedlove Guitar Company, (541) 385-8339; breedloveguitars.com

PRICE $1,339 retail/$999 street

NUTWIDTH 1 3/4"

SCALE LENGTH 25 1/2"

NECK One-piece mahogany

FRETBOARD Rosewood

FRETS 20 standard acoustic

TUNERS Gotoh vintage-style open-back

BODY Solid mahogany with black body binding

TOP Solid Sitka spruce

BRIDGE Rosewood “Belly”

FACTORYSTRINGS D’Addario EXP 17

WEIGHT 4 lbs

BUILT U.S.A.

KUDOS Immaculate construction. Excellent playability. Beautifully balanced tone.

CONCERNS Slight compression when strummed loudly and aggressively.

D25/SRE H

The D25/SRe H is an Original-style, softcutaway dreadnought guitar with solid East Indian rosewood back and sides and a solid Sitka spruce top. It sports a deluxe highgloss finish and Ivoroid binding on the top and back, classy herringbone top purfling, an abalone ring rosette, and a turtle-shellcolored pickguard. There is also a rosewood headstock overlay and an Ivoroid heel cap. The one-piece mahogany neck is fitted with an ebony fretboard that sports 20 standard frets and pearl dot position markers. Chrome Gotoh 381 tuning machines and a pin-less ebony Asymmetrical Winged bridge complete the package.

The guitar comes with an under-saddle L.R. Baggs Element active VTC Pickup System, which is powered by a 9-volt battery residing in a “Battery Bagg” attached to the inside of the instrument (you have to slacken or remove the strings to reach in and pull out the bag to change the battery). Small, easily accessible Volume and Tone dials are mounted just inside the upper part of the soundhole. The Tone control has a center detent, making it easy to dial in flat EQ.

Suffice to say that the workmanship on this guitar is as impeccable as that of the D/SM, and although the action was set slightly higher, it still played wonderfully. And, as with the D/SM, the intonation was frighteningly accurate. Even when tested with an electronic tuner, pitches throughout the fretboard were as spot-on as the laws of physics allow.

Acoustically, the D25/SRe H had slightly less low end than its lower-priced sibling— perhaps due to the cutaway— but the sound was still quite rich and the frequencies equally well balanced. When tested through several acoustic amplifiers the sound was big and bold, with lots of low-end oomph, and using the onboard EQ in conjunction with the amps’ tone controls I was able to get a great sound in every case. I was also able to really crank the volume without feedback, even when standing in close proximity to the amps. Plugged directly into a Universal Audio LA-610 recording preamp the sound was even better, though a lot of preamp gain was required to get a good level.

In short, the D25/SRe H is a great guitar that represents an excellent value for the money. If these two guitars are truly representative of Breedlove’s extensive new line, I’m predicting runaway success, as these instruments are easily the equals of any guitars in their price ranges—and of many instruments costing considerably more.

AMERICAN SERIES D25/SRE, H
SPECIFICATIONS

CONTACT Breedlove Guitar Company, (541) 385-8339; breedloveguitars.com

PRICE $2,399 retail/$1,799 street

NUTWIDTH 1 3/4"

SCALE LENGTH 25 1/2"

NECK One-piece mahogany

FRETBOARD Ebony with pearl dot position markers

FRETS 20 standard acoustic

TUNERS Chrome Gotoh 381

BODY Solid East Indian rosewood with Ivoroid binding and herringbone top purfling.

TOP Solid Sitka spruce

BRIDGE “Winged” ebony pinless with J.L.D. Bridge Truss System

ELECTRONICS L.R. Baggs Element Active VTC Pickup System

CONTROLS Volume, Tone

FACTORYSTRINGS D’Addario EXP 17

WEIGHT 4.75 lbs

BUILT U.S.A.

KUDOS Immaculate construction. Excellent playability. Beautifully balanced tone.

CONCERNS Changing the 9-volt battery is somewhat inconvenient.

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