Review: Breedlove Premier Concert Edgeburst CE

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Review: Breedlove Premier Concert Edgeburst CE

Words by Peter Hodgson

Amber Technology | RRP: $6,099

Breedlove acoustic guitars are a thing of beauty and, frankly, a source of envy in the guitar world. They were one of the first boutique acoustic builders to really come to life in the wake of the ‘90s Unplugged trend, and quickly seized a corner of the market with their idiosyncratic designs, unparalleled playability, and an almost Elven appreciation for wood. The company 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 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, and chief product designer Angela Christensen massages the Breedlove philosophy of relationships – between an instrument’s body shape, size, dimensions, and timber selections – into every instrument the company makes. 

Read more gear reviews here.

The centrepiece of the Premier Concert Edgeburst CE is its beautiful redwood top. Breedlove has been building with redwood tops for over 25 years, noting that it has a stiffness similar to spruce but with a soft cedar-like attack favourable to fingerpickers, and overtones it describes as “like wine, with hints of chocolate and cinnamon” makes perfect sense to those of us with synesthesia. Breedlove continues, “Flatpickers love its distinctive note separation, and its simple beauty connects directly with the earthiness of its sound”. The redwood used is sustainably harvested and clear-cut-free.

The Concert body shape is Breedlove’s most popular, first developed over three decades ago and valued for its ergonomic comfort just as much as for its versatile and balanced sound. It’s considered to be a great all-rounder for players who use both strummed and fingerpicked styles, although that redwood top nudges this particular model more towards the fingerpicking side of things, emphasising note separation and dynamic complexity; in other words, this guitar aims to present all the details of your fingerpicking on a silver platter, from your choice of notes to how hard or soft you play each one within an arrangement. 

The back and sides are made of East Indian rosewood to emphasise the bass and treble frequencies and carve out a dip in the midrange for the singing voice to soar over. No doubt this dip in the mids also helps to maintain that separation between strings, preventing individual strings from fighting each other over midrange real-estate in your mix. 

The neck is made of Honduran mahogany with an African ebony fretboard (mirrored in an African ebony bridge and headstock overlay). TUSQ synthetic ivory is used for the bridge saddle and nut, and the neck employs a slimmer profile designed for comfortable play even for small hands. It’s also particularly friendly to players who are primarily used to electric guitars, and maybe that’s one of the secrets to Breedlove’s popularity: you can pick one up in a store and feel comfortable and emboldened on that neck, instead of feeling awkward and intimidated by how different a lot of acoustic necks are to those of, say, a Les Paul or Telecaster. The neck is bolted on, which is somewhat unusual for acoustic guitar design but which allows for easy adjustment of playing action and neck angle. That means you or a trusted tech can easily configure this guitar for a nice even string height across the entirety of the neck if you’re the kind of player who uses the whole fretboard. The neck is completed with a hand-rubbed, semi-gloss finish designed specifically with playability in mind, protecting the finish without being too sticky when shifting around the neck with sweaty hands on a bright hot stage. 

Electronics are taken care of with an LR Baggs EAS VTC system which was developed to do away with the unpleasant ‘quack’ sound common in undersaddle piezo elements. That sound is primarily caused by direct pressure from the strings causing the bridge saddle to compress the sensor, but the LR Baggs Element pickup is a flexible film sensor as thin as a human hair which derives its output from the movement of the soundboard instead. It’s also so thin and unobtrusive that it removes most of the pickup’s influence on the guitar’s acoustic properties, since it’s not a big chunk of material intervening between the saddle and the wood of the bridge. It’s paired with a simple volume control accessible through the edge of the sound hole, and each Element is tested in an actual guitar for output and balance as part of the QC process. 

The tone is rich and detailed but not overly aggressive, thanks to the scooped midrange which takes some of the growl out of your chords. This gives the guitar an impression of having more bass and treble than it actually does, which you’ll find is great for finding your place in a mix since the tone is neither as boomy or as biting as it may initially seem. The restrained-yet-full low end also seems to reduce the risk of feedback when plugged in, and it’s nice to hear an amplified acoustic that doesn’t have that piezo ‘quack factor’ messing up the attack and high end.

As intended, finger pickers will especially love this instrument for the way it presents their playing in the clearest light, although that means you’ll wanna have your chops together because there really isn’t anywhere to hide with this guitar. It’s a serious professional instrument intended for serious players, and is both priced and crafted accordingly. 

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