The Breedlove D25 SME acoustic electric guitar review

Strumviews.com #2 Pick - Best Acoustic Guitars Under $1,000

Out of our top acoustic guitars under $1,000 category, this Breedlove Studio D25 SME came in very close to the our pick for the #1 Acoustic Guitar under $1,000 because I thought the SRT pickup in the Yamaha A3R is one of the best on the market right now.  

The Breedlove Studio D25 SME (Cutaway with Electronic Pickup)

   The Breedlove Studio D25 SME - best price is at Amazon.com

The Breedlove Studio D25 SME is the Dreadnought that is built so well it "just keeps ringing" when strummed with open chords as one owner recently boasted.  And, that is a great test for the craftsmanship and quality of tonewoods for any acoustic guitar.  Strum an open G or E chord and listen to how long the soundbox (body) resonates and vibrates.  Though that is not the only quality test for summing up an acoustic guitar's quality, it is a great start.  

Other tests include "playability" and intonation while moving  up the fretboard (does the guitar stay in tune when you chord and play up the neck and when you place a capo on the guitar).  All 3 of the guitars picked in this top 3 review keep great intonation all along the fretboard, which equates to fine craftsmanship and excellent set-up before leaving the factory (set-up being the height of the strings as determined by the truss rod setting, the nut height and the saddle height).

This Breedlove Studio D25/SME (an Atlas series model) is ready for the studio, the road, the stage, or around the campfire with its resonant, dense woody-textured overtones and distinct lows, mids and highs.   It boasts top of the line electronics with L.R. Baggs LR-T CV Tuner Preamp, which has been designed for meticulous and serious professional performers.  It has a full 3-band EQ, presence tuner, phase switch, and an onboard chromatic tuner for quick-tuning on the fly for the most serious acoustic ear.   This model is A+ in quality, and what you would expect from Kim Breedlove's award-winning design elements and craftsmanship.  Not only is it distinctly and well-balanced, but is excellent for the studio (plugged in and miked), as well as live and unplugged.  

Here are some of the Breedlove Studio D25 SME specs to compare:

  • Solid Sitka Spruce top for the most responsive, highest strength to weight ratio top
  • Dreadnought Body Style - the most common and most balanced projection in all 3 registers
  • Nato Mahogany Sides and Back - Great sound like Eastern or Western Mahogany - not as deep or full as Rosewood
  • Satin or Gloss finish - for moderate or high brilliance or "crispness" in projection
  • Grover Chrome mini tuners - always reliable Grover tuners can't go wrong
  • Rosewood fretboard for easy fingering and chording
  • Full scale 25.5 inch fretboard
  • Tusq nut and saddle material (synthetic but similar to bone or ivory for excellent vibration transfer)
  • L.R. -T CV Tuner Preamp - Lloyd Baggs top of the line pickup and pre-amp

The Dreadnought and Cutaway Body Style in the Breedlove Studio D25 SME 

is in the same class of body styles as the Martin D-28 and other D-series (D signifying Dreadnought), and the other 2 guitar models in this review (the Blueridge and the Taylor).  That fully distinct Dreadnought sound, giving fuller bass tones and clear distinction of the mid and upper EQ ranges, is evident in this model as well, yet with the distinct advantage of being a cutaway for easier playing at the higher end of the fretboard for more soloing, classical style fingering and other playing methods.  Being a cutaway, it will most likely not give quite the same full projection as it's non-cutaway cousins, but this would most likely be noticed by only the most highly trained acoustic guitar enthusiast's ear.  

The High Quality Tonewoods 

This is the only reason we chose this model as the 2nd best acoustic Dreadnought model under $1,000.  This Breedlove Model, while having a truly flawless sound and a resonation that seems to go on forever when strummed only recieved second place because the sides and back are made from Nato Mahogany instead of a Solid East Indian Rosewood, meaning that the sound profile of this guitar does not play quite as "open" over as wide of an Eq range as the Blueridge BR-160.   Nato wood (or any wood similar to a Mahogany type) will not be able to project as deep of a bass sound as Rosewood in the same size and similar model or body type because of the characteristics of the two tonewoods.  

Because of this difference, Nato will project tones and overtones more in the mid and treble ranges whereas Rosewood will certainly have an advantage in the bass range giving a guitar a fuller, more open sound.  This "picky" difference, however may not matter to most guitar players, and will be even un-noticeable to many less discerning ears.  Because Solid (not laminated) East Indian Rosewood is our top choice for all full sized acoustic guitars (becuase it offers the most bass projection and therefore a bigger, fuller sound), this Breedlove Model came in second place simply because of the difference in tonewood.  It would still be next to impossible to find any flaw in the sound or quality of this Breedlove Studio D25 SME and is more of a personal preference because we enjoy a little more "boom" from a Dreadnought model when it is not plugged in.  

Playing this Breedlove with NATO sides and back next to the Blueridge BR-160 with Rosewood sides and back, one would notice that it does not quite bellow and boom in the lower bass range, giving it an overall more compressed EQ tonality and less overall projection.  This EQ rating, however is the choice of many rhythm players, including contemporary, bluegrass and country playing where one would desire a more mid-range, punchy sound as opposed to a full and more rounded, bassy sounding acoustic guitar.  That being said, this Breedlove Studio D25 SME still rings strong, true, flawless and pure because of it's superior craftsmanship, bracing pattern and care placed into each Breedlove guitar by award-winning luthier (guitar-maker) Kim Breedlove. 

The high gloss finish

Coupled with Kim Breedlove's award winning design elements, the Dreadnought body style, and the Solid Sitka Spruce top comes a high gloss finish for more distinct, crisp and bell-like tonal qualities for better projection and more distinct intonation.  Though this comes from the factory with either a gloss or satin finish on the body (or soundbox), the gloss finish is most commonly reviewed and favored by owners.  That being said, it is easier to tone a guitar down with room and acoustic settings versus trying to improve the clarity and crispness of the intonation of a guitar with a satin or flat finish.  It's much more difficult to make a guitar sound brighter and more crisp when it is not already in the finish.

World class electronics 

Although electronics can be installed later in the game, in any acoustic guitar by a skilled technician, this Breedlove D25 SME comes with the best of the best already installed.  The L.R. Baggs (L.R. -T CV Tuner Preamp) has everything a musician needs to record in the studio or plug in for stage gigs.  Though no pickup mimics the tones and overtones of an acoustic guitar like a good old condenser microphone, L.R. Baggs comes close in being able to shape the tonal qualities and EQ shape of the electronic sound output.  Additionally,  L.R. Baggs pickups are used by world renown guitar players like James Taylor,  Jeff Tweedy, Phil Keaggy, and Doyle Dykes.  Second to a condenser studio microphone, this L.R. Baggs installation is the next best thing.

What some others have said about the Breedlove Studio D25 SME

  • I play in semi - professional venues and I know what a good guitar is supposed to sound and feel like. I simply cannot afford to spend the money necessary when it comes to buying an American made guitar with the sustain, fit, and finish you will find in a good Martin, Taylor, or Gibson acoustic guitar. . .I picked it up and gave it a try. I was literally floored by the rich, ringing sound. The sound is ridiculous. The sustain held for a solid 15 plus seconds.  The basses are rich and melodic. . .
     
  • If you have played a Martin or Taylor, this blows them away. The sound is amazing!!  . . .Play a cord, or even 1 string, the sound seems to go on forever.

This Breedlove model retails at the Breedlove store for $1,199, but the most affordable online price can be found here at Amazon.com

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