Review of Breedlove BJ350 CM4 Solo Fretless Acoustic
Just as Dan Veall's Doug Wimbish interview arrived, word reached
us that the great man (that's Doug, not Dan!) was just about to
take delivery of a Breedlove acoustic bass. How could we
This issue we're enjoying a bit of an 'unplugged' session, with
the arrival of a pair of wonderful acoustic basses from Kim
Breedlove and his team based in Bend, Oregon. The two fine examples
come to us from the UK distributor GoTo Guitars supplied in fitted
Breedlove hardcases - a very nice start, even before I got to grips
with the instruments themselves!
Breedlove began in 1990, started by Larry Breedlove and his
friend Steve Henderson, but today Kim Breedlove, brother of Larry,
takes the helm. However, master luthier Kim is no new comer to
luthiery and has been building guitars, mandolins and ukuleles and
other fine instruments himself since 1974.
Although the two instruments we have in for review look very
similar (other than the obvious absence of frets on one of them!)
There are subtle differences, as they are two different models from
the BJ350 'Atlas' range. Their names, Studio and Solo, imply the
purpose of each design as do the others in the range. The Atlas
range also includes a 'Stage' model and a 'Retro' model. Breedlove
describe the Retro model as 'designed to have balance and power'
where the other three models in the range are 'braced for balance
but focus on sustain and dynamics'. Also within the range along
with the four string fretted and fretless options is a five string
First up the BJ350/SMe4 Atlas studio - a snappy little title for
a cracking instrument. The technical specifications are in the
usual place so let's delve closer at the build quality. Given the
price point we are looking at a flawless construction.
Generally speaking, it's easy to pick up on flaws as the camera
pans over the work under our bright studio lights, but not this
time! What a great pair of review instruments!
The Jumbo body shape was immediately comfortable and well
balanced on my lap, with that lovely Sitka spruce top looking great
under the aforementioned lights. I've recently become a bit of a
fan of mahogany in basses, so it was lovely to see the neck and
headstock of this instrument in nato mahogany and the back and
sides similarly matched in sapele mahogany.
Construction-wise, both basses in the review feature Breedlove's
JLD Bridge Truss system. This is a method of bracing that relieves
the strain usually associated with string tension being exerted on
the bridge, by moving such tension toward the bottom of the guitar.
The guitar features less bracing across the width of the top of the
body which allows it to resonate in a more pleasing way. 'Less
boom', Breedlove says. Amongst the bi-products of this construction
technique is a more even string to string volume. That's a very
worthy note for an acoustic bass. All semi-acoustic basses are
locked in a battle of tone vs. physical size. To get the most out
of an acoustic bass, the body should be more like the size of a
double bass to be able to hold its own in a full acoustic band
setting! Whatever technique is available to improve the chances of
being heard, yet keeping the body size down to a more manageable
stature is welcomed with open arms by players 'on the move'!
The neck I would say is of a medium sized carve. It isn't like a
clubby slab P-bass neck, nor is it a skinny Jazz neck. It's in the
middle somewhere, with a nice D shaped taper making it feel like it
has some substance but not being overbearing or fatiguing. The
Indian rosewood fretboard is expertly finished and seamlessly
attached as if the neck is a single slab of wood. Great stuff!
Tonally the instrument is resonant with a lovely woody tone
unplugged. The mahogany lends depth to the tone and I feel sure
that the proven construction techniques that Breedlove uses
certainly adds low end girth to the bass.
Moving over to the electronics, Breedlove has employed the
talents of L.R.Baggs for both the piezo bridge pickup and pre-amp
that is mounted on the top of the instrument in easy reach and view
for the player. Both acoustics basses have similar units. The Sme4
features a three band EQ, Presence, reverse phase switch (to help
alleviate feedback through monitoring/amps etc) and a tuner. The
settings allow for a wide range of tones that accentuate and never
stifle the actual timbre of the instrument. This is a really nice
touch and I have certainly played many basses where a stock preamp
appears to have been thrown in with little thought for enhancing
the inherent character or voice of the instrument.
Check out the full review inc. video of the Breedlove BJ350 CM4
Solo Fretless acoustic guitar by Dan Veall featured in Issue 9 of
Guitar Interactive Magazine (
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