c.2012 Blueridge BR-40T Tenor Guitar

It's amazing what's coming out of China these days... this is the closest in sound, looks, and temperament to a vintage Martin 0-18T (or, simply, that x-braced tenor sound) that I've ever seen come out of Asia yet. Compared to the thin-sounding instruments of other makes (Gold Tone, I'm talking about you, specifically) this tenor really nails the 30s/40s Martin sound, if a tad bit fresher and slightly darker. It handles almost exactly the same, too, and responds to picking styles in the same way that I'm used to from 0-18T and 0-15T Martins. Blueridge did their homework when making this fella.

This tenor was traded-in towards another instrument, comes with a nice gigbag/soft case, and is in "as new" condition. The owner bought it a little over a year ago and it certainly hasn't seen much play -- it looks like it just came out of a shipping crate from overseas. It's spotless. My only adjustments were a tiny bit of setup (nut and truss rod adjustment) and tuning up (it seems to have DGBE-gauged strings on it right now so I left it there).

This guitar has a solid spruce top and laminate mahogany back and sides. The neck is solid mahogany and the bridge and board are rosewood. The bridge has a "glued in" bone saddle which apes the old Martin styling. The whole thing apes that styling, to be honest, and if the headstock didn't have the big old Blueridge logo you'd probably be hard-pressed to tell from off-stage if it was a 50s/60s Martin or a Blueridge.

Bone nut and open-gear, butterbean tuners.

Pearl dots, nice big-slab rosewood board, good-sized modern fretwire...

The gloss finish brings out some nice curl in the mahogany used on the back and sides. The rear of the headstock on this guy shows a bit of curl, too.

Compared to a modern American-made instrument, the finish is a little thicker, but this lacks the sort of "dipped" feel most Chinese guitars seem to have established as an important element...

So, in the end, is it directly comparable to a vintage Martin 0-18T (or even a modern remake)?

Well, no, but it's very close sonically and especially so in terms of pick sensitivity. Feel-wise, it's a little different as the neck has more of a U shape than the C shape of a Martin and the style of the un-scalloped bracing seems to mean it has a slightly darker sound than some of the older Nazareth-bred tenors. Overall it's a really good effort at producing an instrument with quality tone and a slick feel (I didn't even have to dial the action much at all to get it to the perfect 1/16" height at the 12th fret) in an entry-to-mid-level price bracket.


Andreas said...

lovely review and lovely sound,about the same as mine, which I have been playing for a couple of years now (in DGBE)

Lanny Fields said...

Wish I had seen this review first. Just received a new BR-40T and it's great!