Performance Focus D review by Breedlove

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 8.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.7 (3 votes)
Breedlove: Performance Focus D

Price paid: $ 1500

Purchased from: Evil Empire Center

Sound — 9
Like I said, this is a player's guitar, and it sounds and plays excellent. Tone and sustain are great for such a lesser known brand (although they're starting to build a name for themselves). Whatever you want this guitar to play - fingerstyle, a straight, walloped rhythm, vamped or comped chords, soft accompaniment, fast runs, chimey harmonics... it will do it all. I can play all styles and genres on it. I have no trouble even getting out galloping metal rhythms on it or pulling off quick or swept arpeggios. It is responsive and dynamic, and has an incredible range and gives more color due to its clarity with open, ringing strings. The guitar can do anything from plop-down-on-the-couch-and-strum to a technical studio fill. It should be noted that it sounds best with thinner picks and a firm grip, like most acoustics. It's not too bright and fuller than is to be expected. It's the kind of guitar that has to be played in a room with good acoustics to be appreciated. All in all, I'm saying that this guitar will be right for whatever you want it to do. I haven't tried it through a dedicated Acoustic amplifier yet, but I'm sure it sounds fine with the pups it has, which are great, by the way. I can't give it a ten because it doesn't sound jaw-dropping, but I think even the full list price is justified by the sounds you can get out of it.

Overall Impression — 9
I basically made this review not to praise the guitar (because it's a somewhat one-off run), but to give accolades to the guitar makers at Breedlove. Kim Breedlove signed her name on the certificate as the luthier of the guitar, so although she may not have made it, it shows how small and caring of a company they are. This guitar may not be the pinnacle of their craftsmanship, but I know they make some amazing stuff. When I saw an Acoustic Koa bass they had at NAMM on PremierGuitar, I was like, "shitchrist" and I grasped my tingling nutsack. So yeah, they make good stuff, and though I wish them to stay the little family-run company in the rainy Oregon woods, they should be better known. I've been playing for only a few years, but this is a standalone guitar and you can trust me when I say it's good. It helps that I got it for half price, but if it was to be trampled into oblivion by a horde of flaming velociraptors with party hats during a rave, I would rob a bank and buy a much more expensive guitar.

Reliability & Durability — 8
Reliable? You bet your buttocks. Durable? Well. Durable enough to withstand playing (and it will get slightly better with time), but not durable enough to bludgeon a disapprobational audience member when you rock out with your feathery cock out.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar was obviously in that GC for some time... so I have no idea how it felt from the factory. But I have to say that I have been playing it since I fell for it in the store, and I still haven't felt the pressing need to have it properly set up by a luthier. It feels like a real man's guitar, with the ability to take abuse and passionate playing but still maintain a refined elan. It plays smoothly (I can knock it down to D standard and it still holds its ground) and whatever strings it came with are f--king kickass. Everything on the guitar passes my inspection except for two minor details. The pickguard is a teardrop shape, and at the sharp end, it can be lifted up off the face of the body with a fingernail... the other thing is that the finish has a bubble-type thing on an edge near the neck as if it were a laminate. I have no idea what it is or how it came about, but it wasn't there when I got it. Both of these things are annoying, but I don't really care about them; I scratch the guitar up anyway. I very much prefer its pinless bridge and accessible truss rod. Good stuff.

Features — 7
I saw this at Guitar Center last year in the Acoustic room. I made the naive mistake of simply overlooking a guitar from a lesser known company at such a low price, because I thought that meant it wouldn't be such a great purchase in terms of sound and quality craftsmanship. A salesman turned me onto it and I was skeptical, but pitted it against some OMC series Martins and 800 series Taylors in the room, and it could compete with both in all aspects. It didn't project the bass as much as the Martins, but acoustics gain more open low ends as they age anyway. The kicker was that it was an incredible bargain. The list price was over $3000 and I whittled it down to HALF price, though it was already set by Guitar Center at the lowest price point at which they could still make an acceptable profit margin ($1700). It was cheaper than any other high-end guitar in the room, so I bought it around Christmas time of 2009. Materials: what appears to be a bookmatched sitka spruce top (though is supposedly solid Western Red Cedar); Indian rosewood back and sides; an African ebony bridge, fretboard, and headstock cap; a bone nut and saddle; what appears to be a five-ply black-white ivoroid body binding on soundboard, a three-ply ivoroid binding on back, and an ivoroid cap on neck heel; abalone fretboard inlays, rosette, and headstock logo; tortoise shell-style pickguard; proper straplocks at neck heel; Grover tuners and machine heads; and an L.R. Baggs Dual Element pickup system. I have no idea what the neck and headstock are made out of, but it seriously looks like one piece. I'm not sure of when this guitar was made, but I'm going to guess circa 2006. This is an Acoustic electric based on their SD-25 shape but with a soft Venetian cutaway and 20 frets, and though they are all accessible, they aren't all easily playable, but that's not to be expected of an acoustic. I'm too lazy to look at the inside in detail for construction, but it's solid. I don't know what the finish is, but it's a transparent lacquer on the whole body and the neck is just an oiled finish, which I prefer. The bridge is pinless and the truss rod cover (also ebony) is at the headstock base. It comes with a deluxe hardshell case and a lifetime warranty from Breedlove. There is a special edition out there with aesthetic appointments, but it's much rarer. This edition, though it certainly looks nice, is made for performance in mind. It's a player's guitar, and you feel that from the second you pick it up. The guitar isn't stunning, but it's more than solid.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I highly doubt anyone will ever even read this review, but I should correct myself on the specs section. It is a concert guitar that has a bookmatched western red cedar top, a Tusq nut and saddle, standard sized frets, chrome Grovers, 14 clear frets, Ivoroid bindings with BWBWB purfling, body depth of 4 9/16", width of 15", neck width of 2 3/16", string spacing of E-E: 2 1/4", nut width of 1 3/4", and a scale length of 25.5", It is meant for light gauge strings and has a shallow, rather average radius neck. It's ergonomical, but not thin. These measurements should give you an idea of how it feels and what it's meant to play. You can still order them from Breedlove, but I doubt you'd still find one sitting in a shop. I should also note that it has some problems. The complex overtones that shimmer in less chordal playing become too meshed and hinder the sound when six-string chords are being played with a strong but loose rhythmic attack (full and open quarter time playing at moderate volume); they just get in the way and the tone suffers. So it can totally do open folk chords, but it will sound a bit ringy if you don't play with attention to muting and dynamics. I have to say that despite its flaws, I still crave the sound and feel of this guitar at times.
    (If you like the sound of a pre-war Martin, look into their Revival series - they live up to the hype. )
    I read it! Thank you very much for the review. There is a used one at GC for $1,000 I am considering, and this helped inform me. Thank you, Heath