Hello and welcome to my Blueridge BR 160 Historic Dreadnought Guitar Review.
This review is designed to help you assess whether or not the BR-160 Historic is the right acoustic guitar for you.
The BR-160 will be profiled from a number of different angles, including videos so that you can hear how it sounds, user reviews so that you can hear the opinions of a number of other guitarists and not just mine, plus a detailed discussion about the materials used in the construction of the guitar.
Specifically I will look at:
- Playability; and
- Materials Used
And at the end of the review I will finish with a statement on my opinion as to whether this guitar is value for money and which type of player it is most suitable for.
O.k. Let’s get into it.
Because tone is highly subjective I won’t let my opinion of the tone get in the way. Instead you can listen to the videos of people playing it below so that you can get an idea of the sound for itself.
What I will do though is discuss the tone in terms of its characteristics so that you can get a better idea of whether this guitar will produce the tone that you are looking for.
For some reference, if you know the Martin D-28, this guitar is supposed to emulate the sound of that guitar (but for just over a quarter of the price).
The BR-160 is a dreadnought so it will naturally come with a louder boomier sound that other guitar shapes. This is the most common, most popular guitar shape made.
This is probably because it is most suited to the most popular styles of music – rock, pop, country etc.
Top (Soundboard): The BR-160 has a Sitka Spruce top. This is the most common top for acoustic guitars due to its tonal variety, ability to express dynamics and because it is strong but flexible.
Sitka Spruce is the great all rounder as it responds well to all techniques including aggressive strumming, flat-picking and finger-style.
It also has the ability to clearly articulate notes across a broad tonal range.
Back & Sides: The back and sides are made from solid Indian Rosewood, which will work to boost the mid tones of this guitar but also accentuates the high and low end too. It will also help to produce rich overtones.
Rosewood is a great wood for the back and sides for producing a nice balanced tone with a wide EQ range.
For a guitar costing less than $1,000 (typically around USD$700) a solid Rosewood back and sides is rare. Most under $1,000 guitars come with laminate back and sides or a lesser solidwood.
Neck: The BR-160’s neck is made from Mahogany. This is the standard in acoustic gutar necks – and for good reason – it is strong, hard and dense but light.
This means that it not only allows for great sound transfer it is also able to handle the tension from the strings well without adding too much weight to the guitar.
Bridge: The bridge (along with the bridge saddle) is very important for the tone of the guitar as it is the link that transfers the sound from the strings into the soundboard.
The BR-160’s bridge is made from rosewood which is great choice for its hardness and density (whilst still not being too heavy) which helps to transfer the energy from the strings into the soundboard with minimal energy loss.
Bridge Saddle and Nut: Both the saddle and the nut are made from bone on the BR-160. Again they have picked another quality material.
Bone is known for its great sustain and energy transfer. Like the bridge wood the saddle material needs to be hard and dense to efficiently transfer energy to the soundboard. Also it needs to be hard so that the strings don’t erode it.
Whilst some might prefer fossilized ivory or even synthesized materials like TUSQ or NuBone, a lot of Luthiers (guitar makers/repairers) swear by bone.
The bridge pins are plastic but these are something that can be very easily changed if you don’t like plastic bridge pins.
Videos of people playing the BR-160 by Blueridge
The first video is of a guy playing mostly finger-style. It’s just a minute and a half.
The second video is of a guy who does mostly strumming (though does some finger picking and flat picking later on in the video. The video should start at 3 minutes in just as he starts to play. If you want you can go back and listen to him talk about the guitar in the first 3 minutes of the video.
You may not want to watch the whole thing (it’s over 9 minutes long!)
The next video, like the first, shows the BR-160 used for finger-picking.
This one shows the Jumbo 12 String model
And one more….
This is also a pretty personalized thing. It depends on your style of playing and your physical characteristics. But materials and body shape/size can make a difference.
Fretboard: The fretboard is made from Rosewood. This is pretty standard on acoustic guitars but that’s because it is a great fretboard material.
Neckwidth: The neck is 1 & 11/16th inches (43mm) at the nut. This narrower neck can improve playability, particularly for those with smaller hands. This neck width is fast becoming the standard on dreadnought guitars.
Action: For some people, in the user reviews I read, they felt the action was just right but others said they needed to adjust it to suit their preferences. So depending on your preferences you may or may not have to have the action adjusted.
Other Features and Info
The BR-160 also comes in a couple of different varieties.
You can get it as an acoustic-electric, with a cutaway, as a 12 string in a jumbo shape or with an Adirondack spruce top.
The different models are:
- BR-160A (with Adirondack spruce top)
- BR-160ce (acoustic electric with cutaway)
- BR-160-12 (jumbo shape, 12 string version)
I find user reviews are really important for making a good balanced decision.
- User Reviews x 13 (you’ll need to scroll down or click on the reviews link at the top of the page to see the reviews)
Value for Money?
Hands down yes, in my opinion. It is constructed out of quality materials throughout. Having solid Indian rosewood for the back and sides on a guitar costing less than $1,000 makes this instantly value for money.
But then the rest of the materials are also quality.
And the user reviews come back with mostly 4 or 5 stars averaging out at 4.3/5 over 22 reviews.
So if you like the sound of this guitar and it seems like it will play how you would like it to, then I wouldn’t hesitate in buying this one.
Who is it Most Suitable for
Being a dreadnought it will produce good volume and that boomy sound you get from dreadnoughts due to the large soundboard and narrow waist.
It is most suitable to rock, pop, country etc. It’s probably not the guitar for folk music – and definitely not for classical or flamenco styles.
And if you are a smaller player and not used to dreadnoughts then you may have difficulty with its size and shape. But if you have smaller hands then this shouldn’t be a problem as it has a slim neck – this is not just for small hands of course, but does make it easier for smaller hands.
Thanks for Reading
Thanks for reading and I hope this reviews has helped you to become more informed about Blueridge’s BR-160 acoustic guitar.
If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below. It would be particularly cool to hear from anyone who has played the BR-160 and their opinion on it.