Samick Motherlode

December 2014
more... 12-stringGearAcousticReviewsJune 2014BreedloveFenderMartinSeagull

Four Affordable 12-String Flattops Roundup

A A
feat


Breedlove Pursuit 12-String
Breedlove is known for an innovative and original approach to flattop design, and 12-strings have been part of the company’s offerings since its inception in the early ’90s. Breedlove was synonymous with high-end instruments for years, but for the last decade or so, Breedlove has also offered affordable imported guitars, including the Chinese-made Pursuit series.

The Pursuit 12-String is instantly recognizable as a Breedlove, thanks to its distinctive headstock and cutaway shapes. The guitar also distinguishes itself from the majority of affordable 12s with a concert-size body that measures 15.5" across the lower bout. Many guitar makers would shy away from building a 12-string with a small body like this for fear of losing power and bass response. But Breedlove’s internal bridge truss system (which uses a wooden dowel to connect the bridge with the end-block to transfer energy to the sides), is designed, in part, to help generate extra bottom-end. So if anyone can pull off a full-sounding, small-bodied 12, it’s these guys.

Built with a solid Sitka spruce top, laminated sapele back and sides, a nato neck, and rosewood fretboard and pinless bridge, the Pursuit 12 has a 25.5" scale and a neck that measures 1 7/8" at the nut. Visually speaking, the woods are typical for the price range. They’re fairly plain in appearance and the three sections used to build the neck are clearly visible. Visual flash aside, the craftsmanship on the Pursuit 12 is very clean throughout.

Ratings

Pros:
Balanced tone, playing comfort, USB output. Nice price.

Cons:
Not super loud.

Tones:

Playability:

Build/Design:

Value:

Street:
$499

Breedlove Pursuit 12-String
breedloveguitars.com

The guitar includes Fishman Isys+ electronics, which include an under-saddle pickup, a side-mounted preamp with a chromatic tuner and controls for volume, bass, treble, and phase. More surprisingly, in addition to the standard 1/4" jack, it has a USB output that allows you to plug the guitar into your computer for recording and signal processing.

If you’ve tried 12-strings in the past but found them cumbersome, the Pursuit 12-String may be the answer to your prayers. Like most concert-size guitars, the Pursuit 12 is very comfortable to hold, and if you’re a player of smaller stature, you might find you can play parts you couldn’t pull off on a larger instrument.

Our Breedlove was set up with low action, and the playability was excellent. Tonally, the guitar had a clear, balanced voice that worked great for fingerstyle or single-note playing. There is a certain delicate quality to the Pursuit’s sound that’s lost if you really lay into the strings with a flatpick. But overall, the Pursuit 12-String was a lot of fun to play.

Boasting a USB port next to the 1/4" output, the guitar’s Fishman electronics would have been science fiction (or blasphemy) not too long ago. But the USB connection is easy to use. My MacBook Pro (running GarageBand) recognized the guitar immediately when I plugged it in, and I was able to record with it right away. While the results won’t replace a microphone for serious recording applications—playback left no doubt that I was hearing a pickup—having this option is a great addition for casual home recording or capturing ideas on the fly.

Auditioned through my AER Compact 60 amp, the guitar also left a positive impression with a bright, but reasonably complex voice that worked well for the more delicate playing that’s the Pursuit 12-String’s strength.

A A