THE CONCERTINA SMALL IS GOOD
Breedlove’s distinctive small body guitar delivers a surprisingly clear, crisp sound, and its short scale 12-fret design makes it a joy to play. Extensive Custom Shop engineering and experimentation has resulted in a modern shape that has a bigger sound and a more comfortable profile than a traditional parlor model.
Breedlove’s small body guitar, delivering a surprisingly clear, crisp, loud sound. It’s 12-frets to the body design make it a joy to play. Extensive Sound Optimization™ engineering has resulted in a body shape that has a bigger sound and is more comfortable to play than a traditional parlor.
In the early days of the 20th century, guitars were small. The instruments were just finding their footing in an American musical landscape still dominated by the banjos and fiddles that had provided the soundtrack for the Civil War and the popular sounds of pioneering songwriters like George F. Root and Stephen Foster.
Guitars, then, were largely drawing room instruments, played by society ladies for recitals, tea parties and social gatherings. But despite their diminutive size, the best of such boxes could produce rich tone and room-filling volume. As the years passed, many became sought after by collectors and serious pickers who loved the easy playability and the timbre of the focused, balanced tones.
They became known, because of their roots, as parlor guitars.
The Breedlove Concertina shape is a distinctly modern take on the parlor concept, bringing a stylish look, contemporary feel and an even more versatile sound profile to a classic idea.
It will feel great in your hands and impress everyone in earshot.
You will, as we love to say, sound better, play better and play more.
Breedlove designer Angela Christensen and her team had a clear vision for the Concertina, and kept that notion of an old parlor style in mind.
“We were looking to design something that would be appropriate for a more intimate setting, and have a smaller body size. Surprisingly, we did end up very close to where the first parlor shape started.”
But the road to the Concertina wasn’t straight. In fact, it sort of went backwards.
Christensen notes that all three prime Breedlove body shapes grew from the same seed, which was the defining Concert shape that held such sway after its introduction in 1991.
But the Concerto, not the Concertina, was second in line, with the former occupying a sonic space similar to a dreadnought, and weighing in as the largest of the three sizes, a beautiful, thundering beast.
Breedlove owner Tom Bedell refers to the Concertina as a sort of godchild of the Concerto, and Christensen affirms that it “came after the other, certainly.”
“When we started the journey of developing the Concertina, it was because we wanted to go towards the other end of the spectrum. ‘We've got our medium shape, we've got our large shape, and we're happy with that—now, let's find that smaller body shape that says Breedlove.’ We knew we wanted to hit a 25” scale length, and a 12-fret to body design, so we started there. And then, based on the Concert, we started playing with shrinking it down, and making sure it was proportioned—that it looked like our body shape to us.”
The fact that the Concertina bears 12 frets is key to its remarkable sound, across all series and wood types. Combined with its shorter scale, it places the bridge closer to the center of the instrument’s belly, rounding the bass and giving a supple, very different glow to the trebles. If you’ve only played long-scale 14-fret instruments, you will find a new world of expression with the Concertina. It will affect how you sing, how you strum and how you channel your muse. Small bodies aren’t just for fingerpickers!
Christensen puts it simply—“It offers its own voice.”
A Frontier Concertina, for example, captures all the trademark midrange mahogany warmth of its larger kin, but also offers a palette for up-close Americana or in-your-face folk. Similarly, an Oregon Myrtlewood in the shape will still have that pronounced rosewood-like thump, but shine like all get-out across the top, making each of your arrangements distinctive and uniquely you.
“They're much louder than people expect, and maybe that's its knockout punch. They surprisingly jump out at you.”
“The Concertina,” Christensen says, “is right not only for somebody who has a smaller stature and really needs a smaller guitar to feel comfortable, but also for someone looking for a body shape that feels more cozy, or just sounds more intimate, to them.”
Lead players will be delighted to know that 2020 will bring a cutaway option to the Concertina body, making for a perfect, agile axe to cut through any mix.
As the Concertina, which was introduced in 2018, made its way through prototyping, Christensen had the opportunity to hear it played by masters of many styles. When she catches someone with one now … “Oh, well, I smile, and my heart seems to swell,” she laughs.
“There's just something that makes you feel proud when you're involved in the development of a new idea, and you have all these hopes and dreams for it. Then, to see it actually impact somebody in an emotional way, that’s what always touches me. I'm an artist, from my heart. And when you're creating something from your heart and soul, and it connects with somebody else, there's just not much more rewarding out there in life. To make that link with people, to see them bond with something that you had a hand in making, is really fulfilling. It's pretty awesome.”