Samick Motherlode

December 2014
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Dreadnought Acoustic Roundup: Guild, Martin, Recording King, Seagull, and Blueridge

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Dreadnought Acoustic Roundup: Guild, Martin, Recording King, Seagull, and Blueridge

Blueridge BR-140A
Blueridge’s, ahem, blueprint for success is one that’s hard to argue with: Take classic American designs, top-quality materials, and an offshore factory that can do quality work for less, and build guitars that absolutely kill for their price range. That formula is one that’s made Blueridge, a division of Saga Instruments, a go-to brand for serious guitarists who can’t spend big bucks for a mid-century American classic or reissue.

In the case of the BR-140A, Blueridge is out to win the hearts of Martin D-18 lovers who can’t sell the family car for a Martin version. Like the Recording King RD-316 also reviewed here, the BR-140A takes an extra step toward authenticity through use of Adirondack spruce as a top wood, which lends the guitar a more vintage-flavored sonic signature as well.

Ratings

Pros:
distinctive blend of vintage-correct and unique styling elements. warm, balanced tone and wider string spacing make it fingerstyle friendly.

Cons:
lacks the volume traditionally associated with an adirondacktopped dread.

Tones:

Playability/Ease of Use:

Build:

Value:

Street:
$779

Blueridge
sagamusic.com

Like the D-18 that inspired it, The BR-140A gracefully walks the line between luxury and economy of design. The flashiest part of the guitar is the signature Blueridge Dalmatian faux-tortoise pickguard (a not-quite-vintage-correct touch that conjures images of Prince’s legendary Hohner T-style in the very best way). But elsewhere, the Blueridge embraces the D-18’s recipe for elegance with great reverence and restraint. The back and sides are a beautiful reddish mahogany, with a rather deep and striking grain. The top is a distinct mixture of wide and fine-grained Adirondack that gives this particular BR-140A a very individual appearance. And the same reddish hue that distinguishes the Blueridge’s back and sides from the other guitars in our test group is plain to see in the mahogany neck as well. Open-back butterbean tuners, bone nut and saddle, vintage toner in the finish, and a D-18-style rosette further clarify the guitar’s vintage-minded intents.

For the most part, the Blueridge is a very well-crafted instrument that reveals a lot of attention to detail. Bracing and kerfing cuts are, with very few exceptions, super tidy. The only other real discernible lapse in quality control is visible where the fretboard meets the body (where the finish is a bit too thick) and at the end of the fretboard, where the finish is irregularly applied and a little blotchy.

Like the guitar’s outward appearance, the BR-140 plays like a vintage instrument with a twist. The string spacing at the nut is a more fingerstyle-oriented 1 3/4", which makes the somewhat flat-radiused fretboard and slim D-profile neck feel a bit wide. If you’re used to narrower, traditional dreadnought spacing and the fatter profile of a vintage Martin-style neck, the BR-140A can take a few sessions to get acclimated to. Not surprisingly, it proves to be a great guitar for fingerstyle work—and it’s pretty cool to have a guitar this strong in the midrange be that responsive to fingerpicking dynamics. However, it could use a little more sustain for the purposes of open tunings that rely on the harmonic interplay of doubles and octaves. But this also sounds like a guitar that’s bound to open up as it ages.

The BR-140A’s suitability for fingerstyle doesn’t make it any less worthy as a country, rock, or bluegrass cannon. The Adirondack top makes it feel lively and responsive to flatpicking dynamics. And while the softer tones of the mahogany back blunt the BR-140A’s capacity for volume a tad, resulting in some harmonic wash when you really cut loose, this also lends the guitar a very controlled and nuanced feel.

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