Have guitar, will travel: Breedloves vast and varied range now includes Passport Plus electro-acoustics in both traditional and original-design formats.
Breedlove’s Passport Series began life in 2004 as a couple of travel guitars. Since then the Korean-made range has expanded to nearly 30 mainly full-size designs, including a number of models just launched.
Passports are split between standard models and the new Passport Pluses.
Pluses all get gloss instead of satin bodies while the ‘Original Design’ Pluses – that is, those with Breedlove’s distinctive pointy headstock, like the dreadnought on test – get Breedlove’s patented bridge trussing system.
Our OM is a ‘Revival’ Passport Plus, based on a traditional design.
Unravelling the catalogue designation of this non-cutaway OM is a good place to start.
‘CM’ stands for solid cedar top and laminated mahogany back and sides; ‘e’ indicates it’s an electro – carrying, like all powered Passports and Pluses these days, a new VTC preamp system designed in collaboration with LR Baggs; H-H means herringbone, used both for the top purfling and rosette inlay.
Along with the herringbone, the guitar’s other revivalist aspects are clear to see: a Martin-like belly bridge, simple pearl dot markers up the black-bound, 650mm/25.59"-scale rosewood fingerboard, and a spade peghead toting a dependable set of open-geared Grover Sta-Tites.
Less visible is the top’s scalloped, pre-war-style X bracing, which apparently has been revoiced. The instrument conveys an air of simple elegance with very neat detailing.
Some might anticipate a vintage-flavoured OM to feature an wide fingerstyle neck, but Breedlove has opted for one of regular width, kicking off at 42.5mm across the nut.
The mahogany’s satin finish is smooth and fast, the fairly shallow ‘C’ profile offers an obliging grip, and the fretting is well fitted and polished. A 55mm string spacing at the bridge ensures picking styles are comfortably catered for.
Save for rather heavily damped rotary controls, the VTC preamp is a cinch to live with, providing volume, a two-band EQ and a large LCD display for the auto-chromatic tuner with its virtual needle indicator.
It’s accurate, well-lit, and the tuner can not only be used unplugged but also mutes the system when powered – an important on-stage function that some tuner preamps overlook.
This OM acoustically punches well up to its size.
It’s a rewardingly dynamic player with a good, strong delivery.
The tone combines low-end warmth and high-end brightness plus the kind of clarity and separation one expects of a decent folk-based instrument.
VTC acquits itself very ably. Gain is plentiful and even, the EQ bands are sensibly ranged for a good palette of high-quality sounds, and it clearly has some kind of pre-dip to the midrange, as this is never obtrusive.
Choosing a mid-price Breedlove from among the many models risks becoming a dilemma, but you'll not go far wrong with these Passport Pluses. They're finely made and finished, and deliver the sound goods within their respective category. In short, there's very little not to like.