Breedlove Guitars are back in Australia

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Breedlove Guitars are back in Australia

breedlove guitars
Words by Peter Hodgson

Breedlove Guitars came to prominence right as the Unplugged phenomenon of the ‘90s was really taking hold, as even non-acoustic players began to think, “Hmm, maybe I need a really nice acoustic instead of the cheap basher I’ve been dragging to the beach’. 

The company’s Concert shape rapidly became a classic, and this distinctive cutaway outline informs the four models in the company’s line-up today. 

But for a while it was impossible to buy a Breedlove locally in Australia.

Now Amber Technology has taken on the Breedlove line in Australia, right in time for a new collection designed to reflect the guitar-maker’s commitment to ecologically friendly, sustainable luthiery.

Read all the latest features, columns and more here.

“The team at Amber is pleased to welcome Breedlove Guitars into our musical instrument portfolio,” Amber Technology managing director Peter Amos says. “Breedlove offers guitarists a unique opportunity to combine music with environment, and we look forward to working with the Breedlove team.”

Designed in Breedlove’s Bend, Oregon HQ with Chief Product Designer Angela Christensen – who apprenticed under company co-founder Kim Breedlove – the ECO Collection is built using exclusively clear-cut free, salvaged, and individually harvested native and exotic tonewoods. Breedlove owner Tom Bedell personally took it upon himself to visit forests the world over to source raw materials from local families, mills, and suppliers, with the aim of preserving and protecting the world’s forest habitats and the communities who strive to peacefully coexist alongside them.

The line is built around a specially formulated laminate featuring a resonant core tonewood layer of clear-cut free, individually harvested African mahogany, rather than the softer, less musical woods used in standard guitar manufacturing. Breedlove says that this, combined with their research into body shapes, allows the company to build to a target tonewood weight. All ECO Collection guitars feature Breedlove’s pinless bridge design.

“For the first time, this new collection allows musicians to play in an environmentally friendly way featuring a solid top guitar with vibrant, renewable, sound enhancing EcoTonewood back and sides,” Breedlove owner Tom Bedell says. 

“The new Breedlove Discovery S, Pursuit Exotic S, and all-African mahogany Rainforest S models feature fully sustainable, integrated tonewood technology, meaning that great, affordable, natural sound can be good for the earth, too.”

The Breedlove ECO Collection is arranged into three models at ascending price points. The beginner-friendly Discovery S Series, the Rainforest S Series which Breedlove says is designed to honour the sounds of the Congo River Basin (in multiple finishes including Papillon, Midnight Blue, Black Gold, and Orchid), and the Pursuit Exotic S Series, which features a TUSQ nut and saddle along with the most eye-catching of tops including koa and myrtlewood. Side-mounted Fishman Presys I electronics (with built-in tuner, volume, contour and phase controls) are included.

Amber is of course also importing Breedlove’s USA-Made in Bend instruments, which are handcrafted, handvoiced, and Sound Optimized – Breedlove’s proprietary system for carefully matching tops and backs sanded to weight, not thickness, and tuned to target frequencies for tone, projection, and sustain. 

Breedlove was founded in 1990 when pioneering California luthiers Larry Breedlove and Steve Henderson left their jobs at Taylor Guitars in San Diego County and headed for the rural vibe of Tumalo, Oregon, just northwest of Bend, opening a shop in what was basically an old barn. In forging their own identity Breedlove developed advances such as graduated tops, bridge trusses, asymmetrical headstocks, and winged bridges. 

The company Two Old Hippies, led by Tom Bedell, bought Breedlove in 2010, after the workshop had already been moved into Bend. A larger facility was opened in 2012 and remains the home of the USA-Made In Bend guitars, crafting around two thousand instruments a year all by hand, by a team of nearly three-dozen craftspeople.

The Breedlove Sound Optimization process is a good example of the innovation that happens behind the scenes so that when you strum a chord, you feel a living, breathing instrument. The process involved experienced luthiers meticulously tapping, listening, and shaving away tiny curls of tonewood to target specific, measurable frequencies to make each instrument hit its tonal sweet-spot. 

Each species of wood is carefully milled, weighed and evaluated, tuning backs and tops not only to each other, but with consideration to the specific qualities of each guitar shape. When Christensen designs a guitar, she’s thinking not only of the set of variables that can be controlled by Sound Optimization, but also the unique relationship between an instrument’s body shape and size and the dimension of the soundhole and how those parameters interact with specific pieces of wood.

“Breedlove has continued, really, from the dreams of Larry and Steve,” Bedell says. “Everything we’re doing today is still based on innovation and customisation. Those are the themes that inspire us. We’re constantly learning. It’s just this real passion to create the best sounding instruments possible. 

“A big part of Breedlove’s history has to do with redefining body shapes. We keep the very first Concert (which Bedell acquired from Larry Breedlove) ever made on display in the lobby!”

The Breedlove ECO Collection is arriving at selected reseller partners now, and Amber Technology will release the Breedlove Made In Bend range later in the year.

Head to Breedlove for more information. For local enquiries, reach out to Amber Technology.