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This article was originally published in issue #50
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Seagull make impressive handmade guitars at a price that is incredible for an instrument not mass manufactured in a factory in the Far East.
Handmade guitar at factory made costs
Great acoustic and amplified tones
Superb build quality
Sustainable wood source
Superb value for money with a padded gigbag included
Headstock design may put some off
Very large guitar that may intimidate some players physically
Despite their accommodating prices, Seagull guitars and handmade in Canada by the better known Godin company, using local tonewoods. The result? As Tom Quayle finds out, is a genuine bargain.
Seagull is the budget friendly offshoot of Canadian company Godin Guitars. Impressively for a budget minded line of guitars, all Seagull instruments are handmade in Canada from start to finish, with the idea of producing the highest quality guitars possible at an affordable price. One of the company’s latest designs is the Coastline Momentum A/E HG – a large bodied Dreadnought style guitar based on Seagull's popular S6 model.
Like the Coastline S6, the Momentum is built using a laminated wild cherry back, solid cedar top, silver leaf maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard. All the guitars in the Coastline series are built for strength, with pressure tested solid cedar or spruce tops to aid tonal quality and longevity, and all the woods are sourced with sustainability and the environment as a primary concern, the company says. Unlike the S6, the Coastline features a high gloss finish on the back, sides and top, rather than a natural, polished one. The gloss is very thin so that resonance and sustain are unaffected, lending the guitar a classy look that elevates it visually in relation to the S6 it is inspired by. Thankfully, the neck has been left with a satin finish for the sake of playability – a move that will surely please a lot of players.
The guitar is fitted with a high quality and well cut Graph Tech Tusq nut and saddle, Seagull’s own high ratio tuners, plus a double-function truss rod for neck stability and easy adjustments if required. An interesting design aspect of all Seagull guitars is their diminutive headstock shape, something that can seem out of sync with the large Dreadnought body of the Coastline Momentum. It’s an attractive design however, whose small size serves to centralise the string tension across the headstock and neck, helping to prevent against gradual warping of the wood. It does make the guitar look a little strange at first though.
Visually the guitar is a traditional, plain but handsome looker, designed with no frills that might bump up the price at the sacrifice of tone or build quality. The focus is on great tone and playability, so abalone inlays and complex rosettes or binding are off the table at this price point. What you do get is beautifully executed though, with simple dot inlays, an understated rosette and simple binding around the body and headstock adding just enough visual appointments to lift the guitar without trying to be showy. The wild cherry back and sides are beautiful with their dark red hues and the addition of a nicely shaped tortoise-shell effect pick guard result in a perfectly pleasing acoustic all round.
Build quality is impressive throughout, from the internal bracing to the fretwork and factory set-up. You can certainly tell that this guitar has been handmade, rather than going through a high turnover production line where sheer output volume is more important than consistency. Seagull are very proud of producing affordable handmade guitars in Canada and rightly so - these guitars are a great achievement at this price point with superb playability and consistency.
The Coastline Momentum is a big guitar that is both tall and wide enough to intimidate smaller players. That large frame has tonal benefits of course, but it is one of the biggest Dreadnoughts we’ve reviewed recently, so you may want to consider one of Seagull’s smaller guitars if you have shorter arms. Those tonal benefits come in the form of a big bottom end and lots of projection from the guitar’s acoustic sound with plenty of detail in the high end and richness in general. The acoustic tone is translated very ably via an onboard Fishman Sonitone pickup system with simple Volume and Tone controls. Whilst this is a relatively cheap pickup, it sounds superb with the Coastline Momentum, giving a perfectly rich amplified sound that is very natural and dynamically responsive, allowing you to play musically with very little fuss. The lack of more in-depth EQ control doesn’t matter too much, since the natural tone of the guitar is very good to start with and the Momentum sounds superb miked-up too.
Seagull make impressive handmade guitars at a price that is incredible for an instrument not mass manufactured in a factory in the Far East. The Coastline Momentum is a nice addition to the Seagull range thanks to great tone that will improve with age, lovely amplified sounds and superb build quality. The included padded gigbag makes the already great value even more enticing. Just make sure that you are physically up to the task of handling such a large guitar. Excellent stuff from this enterprising Canadian company!