This month Geoff, Matt and I were invited to tour Breedlove's factory over in Bend. It was a fantastic opportunity to see their building process up close, and I took many, many photos for later.
There will be many cool new models coming out this year, but most of them aren't announced, so I can't talk about them (yet!). Here's one that has been announced and we will be getting soon. It's called the Moon Light and it weighs just 3.5 lbs!
They've removed everything possible to reduce weight - no fancy inlays or binding. The entire focus is on weight reduction and resonance. Feather-light and incredibly responsive, it was my personal favorite new model I played. It'll be available at $1499 without electronics, or $1599 with LR Baggs EAS VC Electronics. Contact us if you'd like a call/email when they arrive!
We started the tour in their wood storage and treatment facility. Temperature and humidity are tightly controlled, and harvested woods are stored until properly seasoned.
Check out the origin story of these mandolin tops! As Tom Bedell (owner of Two Old Hippies - Breedlove's parent company) would elaborate later in the day, Breedlove takes extreme care in wood acquisition, making sure wood is acquired ethically and legally. Much of their stock is from windblown and float log salvage - where direct felling is required they take a strong stance against any form of clear-cutting. The above batch of mandolin tops came from float logs salvaged off the coast of Prince of Wales Island.
Do you know what this is?
Clue: Species name Dalbergia nigra
That's Brazilian rosewood!
And a whole lot of it too!
In 2013 Breedlove acquired the world's largest collection of legally documented Brazilian rosewood from the Madinter hardwood trading company. The stock had been expertly cured for half a century in a small village outside of Madrid, Spain before the acquisition, and included sets from three distinct trees; "Milagro", "Esperanza", and "Puerta de Iglesia".
Brazilian rosewood is available on Breedlove custom acoustics and limited run production acoustics, such as the Journey Concert FS.
After wood supply we moved on to the main production floor. Grabbed a quick 360 video of the main room, gives a pretty cool sense of the space.
Craftsmen are deep in their work while I try to not be completely abrasive taking pictures.
Assymetrical and ladder bracing
These vacuum sealers make sure braces stay put for the lifespan of the instrument.
Steam benders are used to shape the sides, then they're glued and clamped up in molds.
Kerfing for the sides
Unfinished bodies, already looking pretty lovely
CNC machines are used to route out for inlays
Headstock right after CNC routing
So many inlay options!
There's an immense wealth of options if you're having an instrument custom built for you. There's a room entirely dedicated to custom build wood selection. You can pull out prospective cuts and overlay body shape templates!
Even crazier Myrtlewood!
Some more Esperanza and Puerta de Iglesia Brazilian rosewood.
If you're not familiar with the story of "The Tree", you should check out this article.