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This article was originally published in issue #12
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Canadian guitar maker Godin has made quite an impact on both sides of the Atlantic, offering quality to match the major US brands but at extremely tempting prices. We gave a Godin Session Custom to Rick Graham to try. Don't be fooled by the price or the traditional styling, he says - this is a cracking guitar with hidden depths!
Godin guitars is a Canadian company, under the watchful eye of Robert Godin. Based in Montreal, Godin made the decision to spread his production across 1000km, using six small factories as opposed to one giant plant, the main reason for which was to ensure a more intimate working environment for the firm's workers, ensuring that every employee was an integral part of the production process. There is no doubt that this approach to production is reflected in the quality of the instruments themselves. One of the main elements that sets Godin guitars apart from the rest of the pack is their approach to guitar design. This element is less about the aesthetics and visual aspect of guitar design and more focused towards the musical end result of the design itself. The truly amazing 'Glissentar' by Godin being a case in point.
The subject of this review is the new Session Custom which is clearly a more traditional instrument, Telecaster-like in its aesthetics, but don't fear because there are some great additional features which will allow us to explore new tonal territories. Like all Godin's guitars, the Session Custom's parts are made in Canada and assembled in the U.S.A. which is something Godin is extremely proud of - no cheap Far Eastern production here! This guitar features a Canadian Laurentian basswood body coupled with a rock maple neck upon which is a choice of either a rosewood or maple fingerboard. There are two finish options available: the Lightburst and the Blackburst, our review guitar coming in the latter finish and looking very nice indeed as you can see in our video.
The pickups are Godin's own design and are a very interesting choice of a Humbucker in the neck position and a 'Cajun Custom' single coil at the bridge. The first of the additional unique features is Godin's own Tru-Loc tremolo system. This enables a player to regulate tremolo arm placement with a quick and easy allen key adjustment at the rear of the guitar. Personally, I find it a huge distraction at times to have a tremolo arm that I just can't keep in place and what should be a simple process becomes an awkward affair and a hugely annoying one at that! This is a great feature by Godin that I'm sure will be welcomed by lots of players. The second additional unique point is the 'High Defenition Revoicer' system, or H.D.R. for short, which can be activated via a simple push of a button located between the volume and tone controls. This system essentially revoices the frequency range of the pickups, changing them from passive to active and in the process providing extra bite and dynamic response. Coupled with a five-way pick up selector switch this makes for a whole range of tones for the discerning player to explore!
Unamplified, the guitar was very resonant and quite bright sounding, much as I was expecting due to the basswood body construction coupled with the maple neck. In action the Session Custom proved itself to be a kind of Swiss Army Guitar of sorts, capable of a whole range of tones from just the one instrument. I really liked the sound and quality of both pickups but particularly enjoyed using the 'Cajun Custom' single coil which is a high-output pickup but one of great clarity which always projected forward the true tonal characteristics of the guitar itself.
Engaging the H.D.R system felt like the guitar had undergone an instant pickup transplant, offering a High Definition version of what I had just heard through the amp. Awesome stuff indeed! The playability was great and it was clear that the guitar had been very well set-up.
The Session Custom is most definitely a guitar that would be at home in any playing scenario. I can imagine it fitting comfortably in the hands of any player whether it be for Rock, Blues, Country, Jazz and pretty much any other genre of music with ease. However, it is the additional unique features which set this guitar apart from others and makes the Godin Session Custom a very formidable instrument indeed. And then there is the price! This is a North American made guitar of the highest component and manufacturing quality, selling for the sort of money that some other brands are starting to ask for Far Eastern mass produced instruments. Make no mistake, this is a professional quality instrument at an exceptionally good price.