For many people, a high-end guitar is a worthy investment. And if you prefer playing a guitar that pays homage to historic models, the Blueridge BR-341 is a wise choice. Blueridge is a boutique builder known for its brilliant-sounding instruments, and the Blueridge BR-341 is an all-solid parlor guitar that has incredibly detailed, full sound for its size.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Parlor Guitar
Our Picks for Review
Features and Benefits
A high-end parlor instrument like the Blueridge BR-341 is often a major investment. Before you buy, it's a good idea to carefully review the specifications and make sure it's the right guitar for you.
If you're considering the Blueridge BR-341, chances are good that you've already decided that a parlor instrument is suitable for the type of music you play. These guitars have a shorter scale length, which reduces string tension and makes string bends easier, and the smaller body produces a tone that's great for folk and blues. But tonewoods have an impact on tone, too--it's important to choose a configuration that's suitable for the music you play.
The BR-341 has a solid Sitka spruce top. This type of wood is highly responsive, and it has a balanced sound that leans toward the bright side. Since parlor sound tends to emphasize midrange frequencies, a Sitka spruce top adds some sparkle to your sound. Spruce is also an extraordinarily versatile wood, and it can be found in the soundboards of guitars used for all genres of music.
The Blueridge BR-341 also has solid mahogany back and sides. Some guitars in this price range have a laminate mahogany back and sides, and this means they won't have the full, beautiful tone of solid mahogany. This wood choice adds some warmth and sustain to your sound. Solid mahogany also has a beautiful grain, which adds to this guitar's lovely aesthetics. Many guitarists believe that guitars made of all solid wood have a superior sound, and this video goes over some of the differences in sound between solid and laminate guitars.
Of course, mahogany isn't for everyone. Its tone is warm and woody, and it's somewhat midrange focused. Depending on the type of music you play, you might prefer maple, rosewood, or another wood that has a crisper, more detailed sound.
Lastly, the ebony fingerboard does more than enhance the classic look of this acoustic guitar. Ebony is a sleek, tight-grained wood, and it results in the fretboard having a fast, playable feel. The ebony fingerboard on this guitar also imparts a crispness to your sound, resulting in highly detailed sound.
Bracing and Sound Quality
While the solid Sitka spruce top and solid mahogany back and sides add a lot to the sound of the BR-341, the bracing also makes a difference. This acoustic guitar is made with scalloped bracing, which is part of why its sound is more detailed and balanced than typical parlor sound. Scalloped bracing effectively "scoops out" part of the midrange, so you get focused lows and sparkling highs. If you're interested in learning about how bracing shapes the sound of an acoustic guitar, this video provides a useful introduction.
Of course, one of the most important things you can do while choosing an acoustic guitar is listen to sound demos. The video below lets you hear the beautifully detailed sound of the BR-341 for yourself. If you are unable to try out an instrument in person before buying, it's especially important to listen to sound demos--preferable more than one.
Blueridge is known for the quality build of all of their guitars, so it probably doesn't come as a surprise that the BR-341 is made with top-quality appointments. The solid Sitka spruce top is adorned with an understated rosette, which keeps the guitar true to the company's mission of re-creating historical guitar designs. The Blueridge BR-341 also comes equipped with vintage-style Gotoh tuners. Even though the shorter scale length reduces the string tension placed on the neck, a guitar that stays in tune is a must for every serious player, and these quality tuners help support maximum tuning stability.
This guitar has a bone nut and saddle. Compared to the cheap plastic used on many inexpensive guitars, a bone nut does a lot for tone--it helps increase sustain and also increases harmonic content. This video helps explain how a bone nut and saddle can improve your tone.
The slim mahogany neck also results in a narrower nut width than traditional parlor instruments. If you're someone with smaller hands, you probably will appreciate the narrower nut width and find it more playable. Plus, the narrower nut width results in a straighter pull on the strings, which helps keep the guitar in tune.
Social Proof of the Guitar
Even if you're already a fan of the Blueridge BR-341, it's a good idea to check out some reviews before committing. Here are a few reviews to help you decide whether it's right for you.
Some experts recommend playing an instrument in person before buying, but this person chose this guitar based on online reviews alone, and they were not disappointed with its excellent playability and sound.
The parlor guitar may not be right for everyone, but this person instantly loved the Blueridge BR-341 for its punchy tone and easy playability.
Since Blueridge isn't a large manufacturer, not every player will have the opportunity to compare the Blueridge BR-341 to other models by the same manufacturer. This person was impressed with it and found that it sounded fairly seasoned, even right out of the box.
Alternatives to Blueridge BR 341
Before committing to any given guitar, it's a good idea to consider a few alternatives. Here are some instruments you may want to consider alongside the Blueridge BR 341.
How it Compares to Blueridge BR-341
Washburn, like Blueridge, is a manufacturer known for some of its higher-end parlor guitars. This one is a little more expensive than the Blueridge BR 341, but it has many similarities in both build quality and tone. Unlike the BR-341's top made of solid Sitka spruce, this Washburn model has a solid cedar top. And while the back and sides are mahogany, they are made of laminated wood.
If you prefer the warmer sound of cedar over the brighter sound of Sitka spruce, make sure you give this one a look!
How it Compares to Blueridge BR-341
If you're a fan of the manufacturer but don't think the Blueridge BR-341 is quite right, this slightly more expensive model might be a better choice. This one is also inspired by historic models, but it has one key difference: the back and sides are made of solid East Indian rosewood.
This is a tonewood that is quickly becoming scarce, and it produces a brilliantly detailed, balanced tone. It isn't necessarily better than mahogany, but if you prefer detail over warmth, this model may be a better choice. If you love Blueridge instruments but prefer the sound of rosewood, be sure to give this guitar a look!
How it Compares to Blueridge BR-341
Many players prefer the sound of all-solid guitars, but all-solid construction is often expensive. This guitar from Yamaha is made of solid wood and it remarkably affordable, and it also comes with electronics for easy live playing. The spruce top is solid, as are the mahogany back and sides. If you want an all-solid instrument and are on a budget, make sure to check this one out!
Whether you're familiar with Blueridge or not, this is a brand worth considering. The Blueridge BR-341 is a quality, all-solid parlor-style guitar that has a sound that transcends its shape. Considering its excellent build quality, it's also a great value. Click here to check it out!