Review: Breedlove’s Artista Pro Series Concert CE Is a Compact Acoustic-Electric with a Full Dynamic Sound

The Pro Series Concert includes some of the maker’s signature touches in a well-made instrument that’s ready for the stage or studio.

Breedlove Guitars has established a reputation as an eco-conscious guitar maker. With its new Organic Pro collection, the company offers professional-level instruments made from all-solid tonewoods that are sustainably harvested. While guitars with these features are often on the pricey side, the Organic Pro series is designed at Breedlove’s workshop in Oregon and built in China, so the cost is right in line for working musicians and players stepping up to more refined instruments. Our test guitar, the Artista Pro Series Concert Burnt Amber CE, sits at the top of the Organic Pro Collection. This lovely instrument includes some of the maker’s signature touches—like a curved, asymmetrical headstock, myrtle back and sides, and a pinless bridge—in a compact body whose sound punches above its weight class. 

Breedlove Artista Pro Series Concert CE guitar

Smart Wood Selection

The Concert CE is made from a distinctive set of tonewoods. Breedlove prefers myrtle for backs and sides due to its tone, appearance, local availability, and sustainability. Myrtle is a large hardwood tree that grows from Southern Oregon down through California, where it’s known as the California Bay Laurel. Rather than the more common Sitka spruce, the guitar’s top is made from European spruce harvested in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. 

I’m a fan of maple necks on acoustic guitars. Maple is harder and denser than mahogany and feels even more responsive to my hands. The fingerboard and pinless bridge are both shaped from ovangkol. This dark-colored and dense West African hardwood is now a regular replacement for Indian rosewood, which has become increasingly difficult to source and transport under global trade rules. 

Rich and Balanced Sound

Even right after unboxing, when guitars often sound a little harsh and rigid, it was easy to see why Breedlove touts the strength of its wood recipe. The Concert CE immediately offered a warm, bright, and punchy sound that grew as I bonded with this guitar for several weeks. The more I played it, the more I dug its richly balanced and powerful sounds—perhaps owing in part to Breedlove’s lightweight, scalloped Cascade bracing, the shaping of which is inspired by the peaks of the West Coast’s Cascade Mountains and optimized for each body size. 

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Breedlove's Artista Pro Series Concert CE guitar back

Both simple and complex chords have sparkly clarity with vivid bass and sweet overtones that leap from the guitar. Strumming and flatpicking parts are especially suited to this guitar’s quickness, transparency, and dynamic response. Fingerpicked parts are also rewarding, though some players accustomed to wider necks might find the spacing a little tight. But with a trim C-shaped profile, 25.3-inch scale, and 1-11/16-inch spacing at the nut, the neck has a contemporary, easy-playing feel that should appeal to a range of guitarists.

To test the instrument’s electronics, I plugged first into a portable PA system and then a Henriksen Bud combo amp. The warm clarity of the acoustic tone came through the electrified signal. Because the Fishman electronics include an undersaddle pickup, it had a bit of that snappy piezo tone, which I dialed down for solo playing. Just a pinch of an adjustment gave me a cozier presence, but I returned it to flat settings for some group playing, where it sat nicely in the live mix. In addition to bass and treble boost/cut, the electronics have phase reverse and an onboard tuner that’s accessible by pressing the volume control.

Quite the Looker

The Concert CE looks just as good as it sounds and plays. The body’s top and back are bound with plastic tortoiseshell that coordinates wonderfully with the Burnt Amber sunburst finish. Instead of plastic position markers on the fingerboard and side of the neck, there are brass dots—a subtle touch that works well with the guitar’s organic theme and toasted colors. 

The neck sports the same finish as the body, but with a slick, easy-playing satin matte texture instead of a high-gloss sheen. The gold strap button on the neck heel makes it easy to go straight to the stage. Even with all the other design decisions that make a guitar identifiable, a unique headstock is often a maker’s calling card, and Breedlove’s signature asymmetrical headstock design is one of the easiest to spot.

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Breedlove's Artista Pro Series Concert CE guitar electronics

The Bottom Line

The Breedlove Artista Pro Series Concert CE provides unique touches in a well-made instrument that’s ready for the stage or studio. Some players might not love all of the design flourishes, but the Concert CE’s warm, punchy tone and attention to build quality and comfort ensures a guitar that, most important, sounds and feels good. It’s worth testing one if you’re interested in a compact acoustic-electric with a full dynamic sound and features that leave you wanting nothing.

Specs 

BODY Concert cutaway size; solid European spruce top with Cascade bracing; solid myrtle back and sides; plastic tortoiseshell binding; pinless ovangkol bridge with compensated Tusq saddle; Burnt Amber gloss finish

NECK 25.3″-scale European maple neck; 1-11/16″ Tusq nut; 20-fret ovangkol fretboard with plastic tortoiseshell binding; sealed gold tuners with black buttons; satin Burnt Amber finish 

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OTHER Fishman Sonicore undersaddle pickup and Flex Plus-T preamp; gold strap buttons; D’Addario XT Phosphor Bronze Light coated strings (.012–.053); hardshell case

MADE IN China

PRICE $1,249 street

breedlovemusic.com

Acoustic Guitar magazine cover for issue 340

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2023 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.

Greg Olwell
Greg Olwell

Greg Olwell is Acoustic Guitar's editor-at-large. He plays upright bass in several bands in the San Francisco Bay Area and also enjoys playing ukulele and guitar.

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