Amber Technology | RRP:$1999
Over the last year or so, we at Mixdown have been lucky enough to have had a steady stream of the awesome new Breedlove offerings landing on our desks with some regularity, and it’s been nothing short of a pleasure. State of the art models such as the Premier Concert Edgeburst CE, the Pursuit Exotica S Concertina and the Rainforest S Concert Papillon CE have all been consistently stellar across the board, combining the very best in materials and unique body designs and pairing that with some excellent modern pickup technology to create the ultimate in daily playing guitars. It’s got to the point where we’ve had to enforce a first-in best-served policy among the office’s acoustically inclined when it comes to the Breedlove review units, with all of our guitar specialists squabbling amongst themselves to take one home – it’s no exaggeration, the Breedlove stuff has become a hot commodity around here.
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Based in the heart of Bend, Oregon, in the States, surrounded by untamed wilderness, it’s no surprise that the craftsmanship of the Breedlove makers, from design through to construction, all begins at the timber end of the equation, with their impassioned affinity for carefully selected tonewoods. And it’s not just wood selection that the brand prioritises – breedlove have always had a knack for producing some of the most forward thinking body shapes in the wider acoustic guitar space, a legacy currently being flawlessly upheld by Breedlove’s product design engineer Angela Christensen and the brand’s dedicated team of craftspeople. Tethered to the brand’s commitment to sustainability, Christensen is responsible for the eco-friendly, natural materials used at Breedlove’s Bend workshop; a process that ensures that, should you like to, you could literally track down the tree that birthed, for example, your Made in Bend Legacy Concert CE, and learn where it was grown, and how it was individually, sustainably harvested. Christensen, just like Breedlove’s owner Tom Bedell, has travelled to the forest to ensure best practices, and to witness how the sustainable methods employed by Breedlove help preserve habitat, protect wildlife and foster community.
Since it’s early 90’s inception, the brand’s iconic Concert shape has developed something of a cult following, and this distinctive cutaway outline informs the four models in the company’s line-up today. That includes the object of this very review, the Performer Pro acoustic, which I have been lucky enough to have in my hot little hands this week.
There is a level of pride and TLC in all Breedlove offerings that just always feels like it goes a step or two beyond the kind of attention to detail one would normally find in a guitar like the Performer Pro. As mentioned, the Breedlove higher ups personally take it upon themselves 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. And folks, while sustainability is of the utmost importance to the brand, don’t think that planet-conscientiousness means that a Breedlove guitar skimps on style – when I first unsheathed the Performer Pro, I was floored by the sheer refinement of the thing. With a thin, all-gloss, aged toner finish, brass inlays, an FSC certified Ovangkol fretboard and bridge, African mahogany back sides, and neck and a certified European spruce top, this model exudes class. The built-in tuner, a feature many of us acoustic aficionados certainly don’t take for granted, is also sleek and inconspicuous – it doesn’t detract from the prestige aesthetic – but then, what could?
There is a lot to like, or, pardon the pun, love, when it comes to Breedlove. All of their instruments are handcrafted, handvoiced, and Sound Optimised – 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 makes for some of the best natural quality control of anything in the acoustic guitar space – the Performer Pro is no exception. The construction process involves 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.
When picking up this guitar for the first time, I couldn’t help but notice the ergonomic, intuitive feel of the neck. My acoustic style tends to involve a lot of extended chord voicings around the middle of the neck, with a healthy amount of flatpicking in between – the kind of stuff that can really put a strain on the back of my fretting hand regardless of posture or strap height. This wasn’t an issue with the Performer Pro. I was able to glide around the neck doing my thing without feeling anatomically impeded by the neck at all.
Tuning to concert pitch, the Performer Pro has a full and natural voicing that seems to jump from the soundhole with minimal effort required in terms of attack. You can literally feel the resonance through the body in a haptic and tactile way – it’s very impressive. It’s a hard thing to articulate, but the combination of the user-friendly fretboard and the unobstructed voicing make the Performer Pro a pleasure to play. It’s nice to be playing an instrument that is working with you, rather than against you.
They say all good things come in threes – in the case of this instrument, it’s Breedlove’s selection of woods that achieve the perfect tone every time, the user-friendly neck and fretboard that won’t impede upon your creativity, and not least, the egalitarian price point. Acoustic purists and crossover electric dabblers alike will benefit from having a model like the Performer Pro in their arsenal, whether you’ll be playing it on stage or just noodling around the house.