From the November/December 2020 issue of Acoustic Guitar | By Jamie Stillway
With the introduction of the Organic Collection, Breedlove is now offering affordable, smartly designed guitars made from sustainably harvested tonewoods. What further sets these instruments apart from other entry-level models is their lightly built, all-solid-wood construction with thin UV finishes—a recipe for enhanced tone, according to Breedlove’s website.
The Organic collection includes four different series—Signature, Wildwood, Performer, and Artista—each with several variations in body sizes and options to suit different players’ needs. I checked out the Concert Copper CE, a member of the Signature series, with its warm burst finish, soft cutaway, and built-in electronics, and found it to be a very good guitar for the money.
Both Modern and Traditional
Breedlove has built its reputation on forward-thinking designs and aesthetics, and the Concert Copper upholds that custom with a trademark asymmetrical headstock. But the guitar sports some more traditional elements as well, such as a bridge whose shape is tame compared to the radical lightning bolt seen on other models.
The Concert Copper CE features a torrefied European spruce top and African mahogany back and sides. (Torrefaction is a fairly modern development in guitar making, in which wood is dried in a controlled environment, such that it takes on the characteristics of aged wood in terms of tone and appearance, while becoming more resistant to changes in temperature and humidity.) The guitar sports some thoughtful design and aesthetic touches. There’s Breedlove’s pinless bridge, in this case made of Indian laurel, which makes changing strings easier. The rosette has an attractive combination of mahogany and purfling rings, and the body is wrapped with simple black plastic binding around the top and back, echoed in the tail wedge.
The mahogany neck features a matte finish with an Indian laurel fretboard. Unique offset position markers provide a nice visual balance—appearing on the bass string side at the lower frets and repeated on the treble side above the 12th fret. Indian laurel is also seen in the headstock overlay, and Breedlove tuners with black buttons round out this handsome and tastefully appointed package.
A Dry and Punchy Voice
Out of the box the Concert Copper CE sounded lively, punchy, and dry, as one would expect from a guitar with mahogany back and sides. As I worked my way around the fingerboard, I did notice some intonation issues from string to string, and the action was a little high for me. But, of course, a new instrument often requires a setup to meet an individual player’s needs.
My first instinct when picking up an unfamiliar guitar is to play some fingerstyle. With my preferred technique of using flesh and nail, I wasn’t quite getting the responsiveness from the Concert Copper CE I wanted. I put on some fingerpicks and dug into the strings a little more via some bluesy ideas with thumping open bass strings, and the guitar seemed to enjoy the extra oomph of the fingerpicks. I should also mention that the 1-11/16-inch nut may prove to be too narrow for some fingerpickers.
Realizing that this guitar might enjoy an even more aggressive attack, I grabbed a pick and strummed some open-position chords. This is where the instrument seemed to want to go. Almost like a dreadnought, it really sang when the top was moving a lot. The guitar also held up well to flatpicked fiddle tunes, as the spruce-and-mahogany combo produced a focused tone that allowed the melody to be heard clearly.
The Concert Copper CE comes equipped with Breedlove’s Natural Sound pickup system. Its batteries—two AA, rather than the more common 9-volt—are easily accessed near the endpin jack. Anyone who has ever had to frantically wrestle a dead battery through a guitar’s soundhole during a gig will appreciate this handy feature.
Like many modern systems, the pickup has two onboard controls—tone and volume—accessible via the soundhole and tucked under the top on the bass string side. To test the electronics, I used a Schertler David 100-watt combo amp with the controls on the amp set to noon.
When I plugged directly into the amp, the tone knob on the guitar was rolled all the way to the treble side, which is a dangerous position with a piezo pickup. Regardless of brand, it’s almost always going to result in that dreaded quack. At the opposite end of the spectrum, with the tone knob rolled all the way to the bass side, I definitely encountered some feedback knocking at the door. After spending some time coaxing out the best tone, it didn’t surprise me to find the most appealing setting was in the middle, with some tweaking of the controls on the amp, and a healthy dose of reverb to help smooth out the edges.
When playing the Concert Copper CE amplified, I discovered that I preferred fingerpicking versus strumming in order to nullify the harsher elements of the pickup. For live performances, as with most acoustic guitar pickups, I’d recommend further crafting the tone to your specific needs using a DI or amp controls.
The Bottom Line
If you’re a beginner looking to buy your first guitar or upgrade your current instrument without breaking the bank, Breedlove’s Organic Signature Concert Copper CE may be just what you’re looking for. The market for advancing guitarists is always in need of an affordable and inspiring instruments, and Breedlove has succeeded with a guitar that you can feel good about owning, thanks to its sustainable tonewoods. Equally important if not more so, the Concert Copper CE sounds great and will grow along with you as your musicianship increases.
BODY Concert size with soft cutaway; solid torrefied European spruce top; solid African mahogany back and sides; Indian laurel pinless bridge; high-gloss finish with Copper Burst top
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NECK Mahogany neck; 1.69″ nut width; 25.5″ scale length; Indian laurel fretboard; premium Breedlove tuners with black buttons; satin finish
OTHER Olympia light strings (.012–.053); Breedlove Natural Sound electronics; optional gig bag ($39) or hardshell case ($149)
MADE IN China
PRICE $599 street