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Brand/Model: Blueridge BR-361
Number of Strings: 6
Hand Orientation: Right
Body Material: Rosewood/Spruce top
Neck Material: Mahogany
Fretboard Material: Ebony
Price Range: Under $2000
Our Rating: 8.6/10
Blueridge BR-361 Historic Series Parlor Acoustic Guitar Review
If folk and bluegrass touches your soul, then it’s likely you’ve heard of Blueridge. They’re the epitome of getting more for less when you want the traditional features of a vintage guitar to fit your budget.
Blueridge, specializing in historic and pre-war stringed instruments, has a Historic Series Traditional American-inspired design of guitars that will feel like a blast from the past. Even with its modern improvements, it remains true to its authentic and acoustic roots.
The BR-361 is a parlor size guitar with a solid spruce top and solid rosewood back and sides. The neck is made from mahogany, and then you have an ebony fretboard and bridge with a maple bridge plate.
The combination of tonewoods makes for a harmonically-balanced sound. With true, solid woods, resonance is guaranteed, even from a guitar that’s a parlor.
True to form, the parlor guitar joins the body at the 12th fret with a total of 19 frets in all. Mother of Pearl makes up the vintage snowflake inlays on the fretboard, and slotted Gotoh Vintage gears with nickel-plated Ivoroid buttons continues with the traditional look.
This is a guitar that’s made to ring and sing with power in the trebles and mid-range.
It’s warm and yet bright at the same time, but it can hold its own with deep and rich undertones as the wood ages and with experienced picking fingers under its belt.
To help out with intonation, resonance, and responsiveness, the guitar has a spruce scalloped forward-shifted X bracing pattern that fully resembles Prewar Original masterpieces.
These days, people are obsessed with the dreadnought guitars for loud and proud and projection that comes with bigger is always better. However, the parlor will always remain an intimate guitar that transcends time to find its place in music whether it be classical, romantic, operatic, and even contemporary genres.
- Solid tonewoods
- Vintage/traditional elements
- Scalloped bracing
- Small size
- Confusion over “select” solid tonewoods
Buyer’s Feedback on the BR-361
As you can guess, this Blueridge parlor guitar is loved by its buyers. When the aim of the game is to provide a vintage and traditional parlor guitar, there’s no room to complain about it being “too” close to an historic model.
You may find the neck a little thick, especially if you’ve been playing guitars with slim necks from other brands that have their own patented neck tapers and shapes.
But, this guitar isn’t one that has a legitimate flaw. The sound is authentic, and it will really sing with fingerpickers that know what they’re doing. Because of its parlor size, it makes for a convenient guitar to haul around for small jam sessions with friends or family in intimate settings.
As a romantic guitar, it might just be the perfect model to serenade your lady like in the days of old!
Alternatives to Consider
Looking for something bigger? Dreadnought is the most popular body shape of the day, and you can land a Martin in this price range of under two-grand. If you’re drawn to the rosewood on this Blueridge, then be prepared to drool over the Martin D-16RGT with its spruce top and rosewood back and sides.
If you’re part of the mahogany crowd, the Martin D-15M is an all-mahogany guitar that’s budget-friendlier than either the Blueridge and the Martin 16RGT.
But, if you’re drawn to the Historic Series of the gorgeous Blueridge guitars, the BR-163A Historic Craftsman Series guitar may be a viable alternative.
The 000-size guitar (or Auditorium size) is similar to the parlor guitar with its spruce and rosewood tonewoods and mahogany neck. Between these two Blueridge guitars, it’s a matter of size that may be the deciding factor.
Blueridge BR-361 Q&A
The specs on this guitar indicate that the neck is made with “Select Mahogany.” Generally, the use of the term “select” indicates a laminated/layered construction.
This may be true of the neck on the Blueridge guitar as it does provide some cost savings for the buyer to keep the guitar in the affordable range. This particular feature isn’t specific to Blueridge, and you’ll see this on other guitars in this price range; take the Martin D-16RGT for example.
Again, the specs on this guitar indicate that the BR-361 is made with Select Solid Sitka Spruce (top) and Select Solid Tonewood (back and sides). In this case, Blueridge denies the use of laminate for these parts of the guitar and is therefore allowed to use the word “solid” in its description.
The verbiage allows Blueridge to be vague in what specific species of woods they use for guitar production.
With the increased and revised restrictions, regulations, and bans on certain tonewoods, such as Indian Rosewood and Brazilian rosewood, issued by CITES, Blueridge changed its verbiage to be in compliance with the law.
Processing and inspection for tonewoods for importing and exporting is a very slow process, so to allow for expedition, they can substitute their tonewoods for other high-quality upgrades that are close to and are appropriate to what they’ve described to deliver the same quality you expect from Blueridge.
All guitar manufacturers are facing the same tonewood difficulties and financial consequences that Blueridge is experiencing.
The specs say there isn’t a back inlay, but looking at the back, there is a thin strip of what looks to be the same Herringbone design as the purfling.
The guitar is has a natural high gloss finish over the entire instrument.
Both the nut and saddle are made with bone, and the nut width is 1 7/8 inches.
Blueridge guitars are Chinese-built and are made in China.
Blueridge is a brand that’s own my Saga Musical Instruments. They are a wholesaler and manufacturer that specializes in stringed instruments. They own many popular brands that you may have heard of such as Valencia, Kentucky, Regal, Goldstar, Fullerton, and more.
Hardware/Electronics You’ll Need:
If this is your first real guitar buy, then you’ll need a few things to protect your solid guitar. You might always want to get a head start on some accessories to improve and maximize your playing style whether it be strumming, picking, or both! Our extensive guide to acoustic & electric guitar accessories lists out the essentials in order of what you’ll need and what you may want so that you have your priorities in check.
Depending on your vendor, this guitar may come with a CD-1513 deluxe hardshell case, and that will save you more than a few bucks. Here’s some other necessities you may want to consider.
- Real solid tonewoods
- Vintage and historic design
- Excellent value
Our Verdict on the BR-361 Acoustic Guitar
To strum it up, the Blueridge BR-361 parlor guitar is a stunning reproduction of a vintage guitar that’s survived time and music changes. With modern elements like improved playability and constructional integrity, this is a guitar that will last a lifetime, and it will take you back to the good ol’ classical days of fingerpicking romance!