Brazilian rosewood dreadnought with a contemporary design.
by Teja Gerken
100 years after it was introduced by the Martin Guitar Co., the dreadnought remains the most popular body style for steel-string guitars. And while many companies closely copy Martin’s popular design, others chart their own territory. With its Bahia Dreadnought, Bedell Guitars has created a thoroughly modern dreadnought that combines vintage and contemporary elements.
The Bahia Dreadnought’s Brazilian rosewood back and sides were acquired from the Spanish instrument wood seller Madinter, and the wood is fully certified as having been harvested prior to the CITES convention export and trade limitations. The rosewood on the Bahia Dreadnought that we checked out was flatsawn, which led to some cool figuring, and relatively dark brown in color, with a few reddish streaks. The top was made from Sitka spruce with very even grain and uniform coloring.
While the guitar’s shape and tonewoods would be at home on a replica of a vintage dreadnought, its half-round and relatively slim neck shape, as well as its original set of appointments. give the Bahia Dreadnought its own contemporary identity. The purfling is somewhat reminiscent of the marquetry purfling used on Martin style-30 guitars (a design Martin never used on dreadnoughts): the pattern alternates between dark and light pieces of wood and is also used for the guitar’s rosette. The instrument’s fretboard position markers look like standard dots from a distance, but a closer look reveals them to be made of brass, rather than pearl or plastic.
The Bahia Dreadnought was easy to play and had a wide dynamic range that produced complex tones both from a very soft attack and relatively heavy picking. The tone was balanced and sweet and, while dreadnought purists may miss a little power or punch, its voice is appropriate for the general multi-faceted vibe of the guitar. Built in Bedell’s Bend, Oregon, shop (where Breedlove guitars and Weber mandolins are also built), the guitar is a relative bargain for a Brazilian rosewood guitar, and players looking for an individualistic dreadnought should check it out.
SPECS: Dreadnought body. Solid Brazilian rosewood back and sides. Solid Sitka spruce top. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 14-fret mahogany neck with dovetail joint. 25.5-inch scale. 1¹¹/₁₆-inch nut width. Waverly tuning machines. Made in USA.