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This article was originally published in issue #30
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Seagull guitars are a new name to me so I came into this review with a completely open mind with no preconceptions or expectations. I have subsequently found out that Seagull guitars are a brand owned by Godin and are made start to finish just outside Quebec in Canada. I really like that fact because so many mid-priced instruments nowadays are farmed out to massive factories in Asia. There's nothing wrong with guitars being made anywhere, of course, but particularly with something as personal as an acoustic guitar, it's nice to feel that it was made by guitar makers rather than being produced down to a price by machines.
The S6 Mahogany Deluxe is a dreadnought sized, all-mahogany acoustic guitar that is one of the many recently flooding onto the market by various manufacturers with the top, back and sides all constructed from mahogany, which in case you don't know is a warm, dark sounding tonewood. I recently reviewed an all mahogany Martin acoustic for GI and was in love with its warm, fat tone.
Traditionally, most acoustics that used mahogany for the backs and sides of guitars had other, brighter sounding, woods, usually spruce, for the tops, but recently there has been a real trend for manufacturers to start offering all mahogany guitars. Whether this is driven by a new source of supply of cheaper mahogany it's hard to say (though it's unlikely) or whether players' tastes have changed I can’t say, but whatever the reason for the trend, both the all mahogany Martin and this Seagull are noticeably warmer and quite special sounding - and I am a definite fan of this kind of acoustic tone!
The other trend that I'm seeing a lot of is a very stripped down minimal look. This guitar has a purposeful look that will look cooler the more road worn it gets. Also, because it has a solid mahogany top and not a laminated one, the actual sound and response of this guitar will improve over time. Laminate tops tend not to change or mature in tone, whereas solid tops just get better as the decades pass. That said, it does have laminated back and sides to keep the price down, but don't let that worry you. As our editor is always reminding us, the finest Jazz guitars often use laminates and the extra strength they offer can be very useful. Moreover, in the case of this Seagull, we had a
feeling that the use of laminates for the back and sides had tightened-up the tone and made for a potentially better sound than you might have got had it been all-solid. If all-mahogany guitars have a weakness it's that they can sound 'soft'. This Seagull certainly doesn't suffer in that respect.
In fact these S6 sounds very fine indeed, both acoustically and through the very simple onboard Fishman Sonitone system. Acoustically, this particular guitar was alive and rang forever. Amplified, it was great, too. The Sonitone consists of a volume and brightness pot situated in the sound hole which is simple and straight forward. I really like the Fishman Sonitone. It's very much plug in and go, and sounds fantastic however you set it, but really, it hasn't got to work that hard, because acoustically this Seagull sounds rich, warm and resonant.
The maple neck is very comfortable and has a double function truss rod, which means the neck can be adjust both forward and backward and will be rock solid with temperature changes. Seagull also prides itself on their neck to body join which it describes as an 'integrated set neck system', which doesn't use glue and gives a fantastic neck to body energy transfer. This probably contributes to how alive this guitar feels. Also the headstock is tapered, giving a straight string pull, which makes tuning more stable and minimises stress on the neck. The nut and saddle are Graphtech Tusq and are compensated for in tune playing in all areas.
Everything adds up to a very fine guitar at a very reasonable cost. Personally I would put slightly lighter strings to on this guitar if it were mine to make it even easier to play but this is not a criticism and simply a personal preference. This Seagull is so resonant and fat sounding that the difference in tone would be negligible.
As I say a lot nowadays, I have played guitars much more expensive which are not as good as this Seagull, which for the price, is hard to beat. It's definitely one for the opposition to worry about.