View Full Version : New Breedlove OF
I normally lurk this forum as I'm at work and can't spend a lot of time on the Web, but I just wanted to give you my impressions of my new Breedlove Quartz OF mando. I previously had a Kentucky 675s that, though I appreciated the F styling, was kinda disappointing. I decided to look for an A syle that would have some of the features I was looking for (aside from the scroll) and yet would keep me at around $1000. The information gathered from this forum helped me to determine that I wanted a solid carved spruce top and solid carved maple back and sides with f holes and tone bar bracing. I also wanted an ebony fretboard (radiused) and bridge. I wasn't interested in frills, just a good mando for the price.
This little OF fit the bill with all the features I was looking for plus a coupla extras, like oversized frets (VERY comfortable) and ebony veneer on the headstock/heelcap (a little understated elegance). I spent the extra $$ for a HSC to replace the gig bag it came with as, like I was told, a gig bag is a great place to carry all of your mandolin parts. The whole works cost me a little over a thousand with tax and all.
This is a wonderful little instrument and I can't seem to keep my hands off of it. It's a tad quiet but I'm hoping that it'll open up a bit and give me a little more volume, though I'm not expecting a cannon. I've changed out the strings with J74's and its tone is bright but pleasing. I adjusted the bridge to help the intonation which was sharp and the action is such that I don't really see the need for a setup at this time. Tuners aren't too bad (Saga) but maybe sometime I'll upgrade'em.
All in all, it's a great little mando for the bucks and I just want to thank all on this forum for the information that helped in the decision. If there are any OF owners out there who have "hotrodded" their mandos, I'd sure appreciate any advice.
Thanks again, so much,
F holes and tone bar bracing-do you have a KO or a KF?
The entire Breedlove Quartz line offers outstanding build quality, playability & tone. An outstanding American made value! IMHO
George, he says it's an OF. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif
I bought an OF a year and a half ago and still love it. Without hearing it side by side with a new one its hard to say how much it has opened up, because I wouldn't much notice a gradual change, but I definitely noted more volume after I upgraded to an an Allen tailpiece about 6 months ago - I don't think its just my imagination. I also put on a set of Grover tuners in gold to match the new tailpiece, which were nice to have, but not need to have. There was actually no problem at all with the budget tuners that it came with. I've got a bit of finish wear on the edges of the neck (where the binding would be if it was a bound neck) where the laquer has worn and chipped off a bit and a shiny spot on the sunburst finish where I touch down with my little finger - I figure this little bit of wear and tear just give it character. Volume hasn't been a problem for me since I usually pick with another guitarist or two and don't have to contend with a banjo in the mix.
I would second the suggestion of the Allen tail piece. Someone awhile back said that it was recommended that they get a fossilized ivory saddle for the Breedlove. I have a Quartz KO (purchased from Dale) and I'm still trying different strings-now using J74's for more volume. I plan on trying the Gibson Sam Bush strings to get a drier tone on the D and G strings.
Thanks, Folks, for your replies.
Couple of questions:
How would one do a bone saddle in the bridge?
I've heard of the Allen tail piece; what is their advantage and roughly how much are they?
Sure is a great mando for my purposes. the fretboard is so smooth, It almost plays itself compared to the Kentucky.
The Allen tail pieces are made of cast bronze and are sold either natural or with a nickel or gold plated finish. I think Breedlove uses them standard on their more expensive models. The tailpiece that comes whith the Quartz is a stamped from thin metal. I'm no physics whiz, but I assume that the extra mass of the cast bronze and probably the qualities of the metal itself (think bell)helps the piece sustain the string vibrations and transfer them to the mandolin body--even though I assume that most of the transfer should pass through the bridge. They're fairly pricey -- $75-$100. Weber and others also sell cast tailpieces in the same price range that I assume have similar qualities.
I just had Ken Cartwright (MANDO MEDIC) put an allen tailpiece on my Quartz OF. #I did have some buzzing on the G string and he put a slight bow in the neck with a small truss rod adjustment. #Strung it up with J-75s. #It is amazing the difference!!! #Louder, bassier, resonanter (my own word). #I would highly, highly recommend the tailpiece upgrade. #For $90 and a little to have it installed is more than worth it and will only increase the value of your mando, not that I would ever consider selling mine. #Even without the tailpiece you are going to be amazed at how much the sound improves as she opens up. #Enjoy her. #Breedloves are great instruments, but would you expect anything less from Oregon ;)
Again, thanks so much for all this great information.
Looks like I'm gonna have to hunt down an Allen tailpiece in the near future. Would this be a procedure that a "relatively handy" individual could do themselves? Or should I be smart and have a pro do it? Anyone know of a Mando Luthier in San Diego, CA?
Oh, yeah. How is everyone attaching their strap on their OF? Right now I'm tying off at the nut, but have always preferred (on my guitars, at least) to have a strap button at the neck heel. Has anyone done this, or should I just stick it out with the way it is now. Strap just kinda gets in the way.
Strap button location on a Breedlove (http://www.folkofthewood.com/page3694.htm)
Call Breedlove and ask them what model of the Allen tailpiece fits/works best.
Thanks to all for this very helpful info.
I'm really enjoying this mando for its ease of playing and I'm encouraged in hearing that it will open up and give some more volume. Also the Allen T/P info.
I put my own tailpiece on with no problem. The holes lined up with the screw holes from the old tailpiece, but as I recall the new screws were slightly bigger so I had to drill the holes out a bit. I'm reasonably handy--but no luthier. I've done saddle replacements and truss rod adjustments on a couple of guitars and replaced tuners -- nothing too complicated, but I'm pretty meticulous about following instructions -- and not forcing a screw into hardwood without drilling a proper sized hole first. The only small glitch was there's a short piece of 1/2" dowel behind the tailpiece that serves only as a wooden plug to screw your strap button into. Mine was #split and wouldn't hold the strap button screw when I went to install the new tailpiece. I bought a 1/2 diameter birch dowel at the hardware store and cut off an identical replacement plug. Also if you buy a brass or gold plated tailpiece --and if you want perfection -- you'll also need to buy a new strap button in the same color. I didn't, and am still using my nickel-plated button. No one would notice but me--but it does annoy me, so I'll replace it one of these days.
One more thing, put down a piece of painter's masking tape to mark the exact position of your bridge so you won't have to spend undue time repositioning and intonating your bridge when you put your strings back on.
Thanks, Jim, for your input. Sounds like something I can do. I see that StewMac has Allen Tailpieces for about $90 so it looks like a real reasonable job.
Great idea about the tape, too.
I feel like my breedlove OF a little quiet, and I got it used and have had it for a over a year now. I feel like that's the only complaint I have about mine. I love the tone and playability. I need to take it to someone soon though for some adjustments, I get a bit of a fret buzz on the 7th fret G string and above. I think I may need to raise the action a bit to get more volume and eliminate the buzz but I'm not sure.
I have a Breedlove Quartz OF from 2006. It is a fantastic instrument. I happen to love the tailpiece design. I'm one of those who believe the tailpiece doesn't affect sound. I changed to a Allen tailpiece on two other mandolins and heard no difference whatsoever. I love the simplicity of the stock Breedlove tailpiece. The one thing I did change on mine was the tuners. The budget tuner that it comes with are just fine. I never had a single problem with them. I just think the white buttons look a little out of place on that model with all of the other black details on the instrument. It has a black tailpiece, a black headstock veneer, graduated black on the top and sides, and then there are the white tuner buttons. I replaced mine with nickel-plated Elites with black buttons from Stew-Mac. One of the things I get comments on all of the time is how loud it is. I use flatwound strings on it and it still has enough volume to cut through. It is easily the most playable mandolin I have ever used and I have done nothing to the set up since I bought it. The tone continues to mature all of the time. I used Thomastik flatwound strings when I first bought, but the tone has warmed up quite a bit and I found the TI's to be sounding dull, so I switched to the D'Addario FW-74's and it sounds fabulous to me. I understand that Breedlove's are about to have quite a price increase, so I'm glad I got mine when I did.
I had an OF for a few years, and it definitely opened up a bit. Eventually, I got a used FF that was a year younger than my OF, but still it had a bit more volume and punch. They definitely are my favorite mandolins in their price ranges.