Hands-On Review:Breedlove AC25/SR Plus and C25 Passport
Breedlove AC25/SR Plus and C25 Passport
Superb craftsmanship and stellar tone
By James Messina
When I first started working for Musician's Friend, I was familiar with guitars but I really had little knowledge of what went into crafting a high-quality instrument. These days, I can tell a lot about an instrument before playing a single note - the quality of the woods used, the level of craftsmanship, etc. There's no arguing that what comes out when you start strumming is what's most important, but I've learned that you don't get great tone from just slapping some pieces of wood together. It takes a high level of skill, from the initial design to the finishing touches.
A visionary at the helm
The beginnings of Breedlove guitars can be traced to a sun-swept beach in Mexico over 30 years ago, where a young artist and musician named Kim Breedlove decided in the midst of a surfing trip that his life's work would be to create fine stringed instruments.
Breedlove studied with master luthiers, and in time used his unique sense of design to create his own instruments. Soon he was among the finest luthiers in the world, and is now the creative force behind the Breedlove Guitar Company. Based in Bend, Oregon, Breedlve aims to fuse modern design with traditional guitar making. Kim designed the Atlas Series to be an affordable way for players to experience the fine craftsmanship and tone that Breedlove guitars embody. I played two Atlas Series guitars for this review, the AC25/SR Plus and the newest addition to the family, the C25 Passport.
I was immediately impressed by the aesthetics of the AC25/SR Plus. Lightweight and comfortable to hold, the concert-style, cutaway body consists of an Indian rosewood back and sides and a solid Sitka spruce top. Gorgeous ivoroid binding around the body and neck is complemented by the matching fretboard inlays and rosette. Gold Grover tuners and a rosewood headstock overlay complete the professional, sophisticated appearance.
I played it acoustically first so I could get an idea of the instrument's natural tone. The overall tone is rich and warm, with sparkling overtones from the high strings and great response and projection on the low end. The soft cutaway makes it ideal for players that like to work the upper range of the neck. Played fingerstyle, the instrument projected beautifully and really captured the soft feel that such tunes require.
After spending some time with the AC25/SR Plus in its natural state, I was ready to hear what the Fishman Classic IV electronics were capable of. The preamp has a three-band EQ that makes it easy to coax a wide range of sound from the instrument. Whether it was simply amplifying the natural tone of the guitar or boosting specific frequencies to draw out subtleties in what I was playing, the Fishman really enhanced the guitar's tonal capabilities.
Some might refer to the C25 Passport as a travel guitar, but that would be selling the instrument short. Built to the same standards as other Breedlove instruments and based upon the Breedlove Custom Shop C25, the C25 Passport has a smaller scale length (approximately 19"), but the nut width is the same as the Atlas Series acoustics. The C25 instrument is tuned to A, just like a standard guitar with a capo at the fifth fret. The top is solid Western red cedar, and the back and sides are multi-ply mahogany. The Western red cedar top emanates a warm tone with an emphasis on the higher frequencies.
I was immediately blown away by the projection and volume of the Passport. The instrument literally sings - its top end is reminiscent of a mandolin but it also produces solid, resonant bass as well.
The C25 Passport's unique voice can be utilized in any situation. I used it during a small gig with an acoustic ensemble I occasionally play with, and it really added a new dimension to some of our songs. The onboard L.R. Baggs electronics amplify the instrument well, and made it easy for me to lay down a few tracks on my home recording setup. Don't think of it as just a campfire guitar (though it would work great in such a situation); this instrument has the potential to enhance any type of musical situation.
A commitment affirmed
Kim Breedlove's creativity and passion for instrument-making are certainly evident in the way these Breedlove guitars look, feel, and sound. From the array of tonewoods they use down to the exquisite inlay work, Breedlove truly captures the essence of traditional guitar building. The Atlas Series easily lives up to Breedlove's commitment to building the finest instruments.
Features & Specs:
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