Breedlove Eco Pursuit EX S Concert Sweetgrass: What is it?
Most famously, it teamed up with the actor Jeff Bridges for a line of signature acoustics using sustainable tonewoods sourced directly by Tom Bedell. No clear-cut wood was used. Furthermore, these eco-builds were offered at a variety of price points.
This is where the wind is headed, and it means we are being introduced to altogether unfamiliar tonewoods. Guitar players can often be creatures of habit, exhibiting a little caution when it comes to the raw materials in their instrument, but there is surely something tantalising about an acoustic market that looks being the holy trinity of spruce, mahogany and rosewood – there is the promise of new cadences and tones.
The search for tonewoods is global but the drive for sustainability has found brands such as Breedlove and Taylor finding timber treasure on their doorstep. Taylor’s Urban Ash – also known as Shamel or evergreen ash – discovered that the tonal balance and mids-forward punch of Honduran mahogany could be heard in the reclaimed wood that has been felled from city trees across SoCal that was in need of removal anyway.
Breedlove similarly has acquired a portfolio of guitars that eschew clear-cut tonewoods, using salvaged timber or individually harvested trees instead, with the myrtlewood of its native Oregon a leitmotif of its designs, and the reason why it is so hard to draw your eyes away from this handsome cutaway acoustic-electric guitar.
The Eco Pursuit EX S Concert Sweetgrass assumes Breedlove’s most popular body shape – a compact body measuring 15.37” across the lower bout with a skinny 9” waist – and comprises a solid myrtlewood top, with its back and sides fashioned from myrtlewood and mahogany laminate – the former layered atop the latter to maintain that unique finish. The body and the West African ovangkol fretboard are tidily bound with plastic tortoiseshell – the tortoiseshell reprised in the rosette. This is a smart guitar.
The ovangkol has brass dot inlays and has been stained to resemble ebony, making for a nice contrast with the earthy grain and Sweetgrass stain finish of that myrtlewood body. Breedlove has used African mahogany for the neck, which has been hand-rubbed and finished in tactile semi-gloss, while ovangkol has been used for the bridge and headstock facing.
As for the vital statistics, the Concert Sweetgrass 20 frets, a 25.3” scale and a 1.69” Graph Tech TUSQ nut, and you’ll find copper closed gear tuners, and a Fishman Presys I under-saddle pickup and preamp rounding out the spec.
It really is eye-catching, and you would be forgiven for thinking that this is a high-end acoustic guitar. But the laminate back and sides help keep the price down to a trim £869, making for an eco-conscious and striking cutaway electro that is within the budget for the serious amateur.
Breedlove Eco Pursuit EX S Concert Sweetgrass: Performance and verdict
There’s no question that the Concert Sweetgrass looks the part. Myrtlewood is easy on the eye. How is it on the ears? Some will say its sonic profile is somewhere between maple and rosewood, with big and deep lows, and crisp clarity in the high end. That’s not too dissimilar to what you get here. For a small concert-sized acoustic, there’s a generous amount of bass response, not that it is going to overpower things.
Just as the guitar feels when playing it, as does it sound, with balance across the frequency spectrum. This makes the Concert Sweetgrass a bit of an all-rounder. The mids have character. Allied with that bass response, it makes for a confident voice for open chords. Notes last. There’s a definition in those chords, too.
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This could be a strummer, but it’s voicing lends itself well to playing fingerstyle blues too. The Fishman electronics do not mess around too much with this voicing. There are no treble or bass controls here, simply a contour button which hollows out the mids a little, bringing the bass and treble to the fore, and the all-important guitar tuner. Sometimes that is all you need.
The battery compartment is mounted alongside the 1/4” output jack – on the guitar’s lower bout. It might not be as tidy as having an end-pin jack but it does mean no rummaging inside the soundhole in mild panic should you have to change a battery at a gig.
This is more than gig-able. The build quality is impressive. The tuning stability is on point. The feel of that C-profile neck is addictive. We would appreciate a gigbag at this price but all things considered, this cutaway is a charmer to make myrtlewood converts of us all, and an affirmation of Breedlove’s eco-conscious builds.
MusicRadar verdict: The Concert Sweetgrass is a versatile cutaway electro-acoustic that is easy on our eyes, ears and budget, and on the planet, too, with its myrtlewood top giving it a unique look and a fresh acoustic voice.
Breedlove Eco Pursuit EX S Concert Sweetgrass: The web says
"This guitar ticks very many boxes for us. It’s a very good-looking instrument, the myrtlewood is a very attractive timber and will, of course, vary greatly from one guitar to the next, but Breedlove certainly deserves full marks on the design front. Build quality is, as we’ve said, very good with very obvious attention to detail on behalf of the Chinese builder.
"There is the very slight niggle about the action height and the lack of a gigbag, and these are really the only points that keep the Breedlove from getting a higher score. Apart from that, this is a real winner from both sound and ecological points of view."
Breedlove Eco Pursuit EX S Concert Sweetgrass: Hands-on demos
Breedlove Eco Pursuit EX S Concert Sweetgrass: Specifications
- ORIGIN: China
- TYPE: Concert cutaway
- TOP: Myrtlewood
- BACK/SIDES: Myrtlewood/mahogany laminate
- MAX RIM DEPTH: 106mm
- MAX BODY DEPTH: 390mm
- NECK: Mahogany
- SCALE LENGTH: 642.6mm (25.3”)
- TUNERS: Breedlove copper w/ copper buttons
- NUT/WIDTH: Synthetic/43mm
- FINGERBOARD: Ovangkol,
- FRETS: 20
- BRIDGE/SPACING: Ovangkol/ 55mm
- ELECTRICS: Fishman Presys I
- WEIGHT (kg/lb): 1.9/4.2
- LEFT-HANDERS: No
- FINISH: Sweetgrass, gloss
- CONTACT: Breedlove