I just published a post on the trade-offs between purchasing a foreign made, mid-priced guitar and a more expensive American built instrument. I concluded that article by revealing I was considering exchanging a Breedlove Pursuit 12-string guitar for an American made Taylor 254ce 12-String guitar. That might lead you to suspect I was purchasing the Taylor to support American workers or that I felt guilty about purchasing the China built Breedlove. Neither of those reasons is my primary motivation, although supporting American craftsmen and women is something I am proud to do.
The Breedlove 12-String is a good value for the price. It has a solid spruce top, Okoume neck and laminated Sapele back and sides. Okoume and Sapele are substitutes for Mahogany from Africa. Among the features I liked are the body size and shape and the Venetian cutaway that resemble gypsy jazz guitars or Taylor cutaways. The body is not a dreadnaught or jumbo. I like smaller sized guitars, and this fit my needs better.
But I was disappointed with some aspects of the guitar.
I prefer the back and side woods of acoustic guitars to be made of rosewood (first choice) or maple (second choice). I’ve owned mahogany guitars, and there is nothing wrong with them. I actually like the sound of all mahogany instruments as well as Koa instruments. But for fingerstyle playing as I do, rosewood sounds best to my ears. So the first thing I noticed on the Breedlove was the sound was not quite as deep or rich in harmonics as it might be with rosewood.
The built in tuner was too jumpy to easily tune the guitar, particularly when I detuned the guitar to 2 to 4 half-steps below standard pitch. I had read this in user reviews but wasn’t worried because I’ve got plenty of clip-on tuners.
Well, there’s no room with the design of the Breedlove’s head for a clip-on tuner to be attached without it popping off. Not being able to accurately and quickly tune is a big problem.
Finally, before I ordered the guitar, I had been pleased that the guitar included a gig-bag. However, the gig-bag has almost no padding. It is better than nothing, but just barely.
There aren’t a lot of options for replacement 12-strings with the features I want. I reviewed some of the value options previously. Most don’t have the sharp cutaway I prefer. Some have laminated maple back and sides, but none of the value instruments have rosewood back and sides. Which brings me to the Taylor.
As far as I can tell, the Taylor 254ce 12-String is the least expensive small body 12-string available that is made in the USA with rosewood back and sides. There is a Seagull Coastline that is made in Canada that has cherry back and sides. There are some Guilds but the less expensive model is made overseas and does not have rosewood back and sides. There are dreadnoughts, but I don’t want that style guitar – ever.
The Taylor 254ce has the cutaway I prefer and has laminated rosewood back and sides. The head has room for my Snark clip on tuner. The body shape is Taylor’s and might be as wide as a dreadnought or jumbo at the lower bout, but the shape isn’t as huge overall. Of course, the Taylor also includes a fitted hard-shell case.
The downside of the Taylor is the cost which is about 3X what I paid for the Breedlove. The question is whether I will get 3X the enjoyment from the Taylor compared to the Breedlove? I still don’t know whether I’ll keep or exchange the Breedlove guitar for the Taylor.