Fueled by reader requests for an overview of currently available small-body guitars, Acoustic Guitar invited manufacturers to send us samples of their small-body instruments with list prices between $500 and $1,000. We ended up with 11 guitars that are surprisingly diverse in sound and feel, some inspired by vintage instruments and others with more modern body and neck shapes, materials, and appointments. In checking out these guitars, I was assisted by Pete Madsen, a San Francisco Bay Area fingerstyle blues guitarist, teacher, and frequent Acoustic Guitar contributor. Here’s our review of the Breedlove Passport OM/SM.
Breedlove made a name for itself when it arrived on the scene with a line of radically designed flattops in the early 1990s. In the two decades since, the company has also produced more traditionally styled models, including the Passport OM/SM we received for review. With its width of 15 inches and traditional shape, the guitar is true to its OM designation, although the neck is narrower than the typical OM specs. The OM/SM is a plain-looking guitar with a satin finish, but with very attractive woods. The guitar’s craftsmanship is impressive, as is its easy-playing setup, which includes smoothly polished frets. The OM/SM’s neck has a rounded profile and a slim, contemporary feel, and it sounded as smooth as it felt. It had tonal balance and good volume. We observed that it sounded warmer and richer to the player than from a few feet away, where it had a slightly thin quality, especially with harder attack. The guitar had a certain workman-like versatility that matched its uncluttered appearance, making it a good choice for players who are looking for one guitar that can cover a lot of ground.
SPECS: Solid Sitka spruce top. Laminated mahogany back and sides. Three-piece nato mahogany neck with dovetail joint. Rosewood fingerboard and bridge. Scalloped X-bracing. 25.5-inch scale. 1 11/16-inch nut width. 2 3/16-inch string spacing at saddle. Enclosed chrome tuning machines. D’Addario EXP light-gauge strings. Made in Korea.
PRICE: $532 list/$399 street.
MAKER: Breedlove Guitars: (877) 800-4848; breedlovemusic.com.
See all 11 Affordable Small-Body Flattops.