Feb 19, 2013
A couple of bad things about Godin Guitars:
- A difficult name – is it Go-DIN? Is it Go-DAHN? (As far as I know it’s the latter)
- A difficult brand name to get a foot in the door – to the guitar playing massive, Godin have never had the pedigree or market penetration of a Gibson or a Fender or one of the other big boys.
- A difficult aesthetic to sell – in the past, I’ve always thought Godin suffered a little from “unsexy” designs, that while not pandering to the usual straight up Les Paul or Strat type bodies, weren’t particularly cool looking in their own right.
A great thing about Godin Guitars – they’re here to change your minds on these points. Except the name thing. Cos you’ll just have to learn how to say it. It’s not that difficult.
Introducing the “Core” Series
In today’s world, it seems like a slightly risky proposition to call your guitar line the “Core” series. As a metal sub-genre name, the suffix “-core” is SO overused that you might run the risk of accidentally getting your brand associated with…
… or perhaps, the much maligned “crabcore”…
Aesthetic differences between these variants of metal indicate clear and distinct differences between each sub-genre, in which the first instance features young angry men with long greasy hair and black T-shirts, while the next sub-genre are quite uniquely clad in black T-shirts with long greasy…
Yes. It is ALL metal. People need to stop over sub-genrelizing (#MadeANewWord) before we end up with guys at gigs going, “Bro, have you heard the latest from this awesome post-mathcrabdeathapplecore band?!”. /minirant
Okay, let’s be serious now
The Godin Core series is about new beginnings – about stripping things back to the core so that you get the specifications, quality, and playability that you need, without superfluous trimmings, and most importantly, without the huge price tag.
Let’s talk about that briefly. In case you didn’t know, ALL Godin guitars are handmade in Canada – there is no import line (at this time). Now, I don’t know much about labour costs in Canada but it seems amazing to me that a guitar that is “essentially” equal to a USA handmade guitar can be sold for a very, very affordable $1500ish. Either we’re getting our chains yanked by Gibson (but let’s face it, we will still buy Les Pauls), or Godin is a dark horse that few know about because they don’t spend a heap of money on endorsements and marketing, but rather prefer to pass the cost savings onto the customers. I don’t know for sure, and I’m happy for anyone in the know to chime in. All I know is, it’s pretty freaking affordable.
I wanted to review the Core P90 (model designation self explanatory) because my previous dalliances with P90s have always been interesting new experiences for someone who has essentially always been a humbucker guy.
Specifications at a glance:
- Mahogany set-neck.
- Rosewood fingerboard.
- 12″ fingerboard radius.
- 24 3/4 ” scale.
- 1 11/16″ nut width.
- Chambered solid mahogany body with maple top.
- 2x Seymour Duncan P90 pickups (neck: Vintage SP90-1/ bridge: Custom SP90-3).
- 3-way toggle switch, 2x volume and 2x tone.
- Graphtech Resomax NW1 wraparound bridge.
- Colors: Lightburst SG, Sunburst SG and Denim Flame SG.
At the… uh… core of things (couldn’t resist, sorry), the Core P90 is a singlecut style guitar loaded with two Seymour Duncan P90s.
An important distinction though, is the satin finish all over, and the fact that the mahogany body is chambered. This does make a big difference to the tone, as we’ll see shortly.
Fit and finish
Satin. Give me satin finished anything and chances are I’ll love it. Sure, it may not “pop” as much as a nice gloss finish, but it’s just so nice and smooth on the hands, and makes for a classy, understated look overall.
Construction quality is generally impeccable, though with one minor design choice which just a little puzzling to me, and I can’t quite decide whether it’s a flaw or not. I would have liked the inner edge of the neck to sit flush with the body, but instead the body juts out just a little, which makes for a slightly jarring visual, as well as a minor interruption to the playing experience when you slide up to the high frets.
I did have a little trouble keeping the usual problem strings in tune on this guitar – even without a huge amount of bending or abuse the D and G would slip out of tune every so often, though I suspect it would be a problem easily solved with a setup and a bit of attention to the nut…
Under the hood
The Duncan P90s in this guitar were quite a bit different from the Wilkinson set in the Fret-King Esprit 3 I reviewed last year, so I’m going to copy in the specs for a little bit of context to start off with.
Vintage Soapbar SP90-1:
The short, wide bobbins account for higher output and more powerful mid-range than Strat® or Tele® single-coils. To be vintage correct, the SP90-1 is wound with plain enamel wire on the same Leesona winder that wound the 1950s versions. The tone is sweet and smooth. Comes with single-conductor hookup cable.
Custom Soapbar SP90-3:
Unlike the SP90-2 Hot, the Custom uses two large ceramic magnets for extra output, more compressed dynamics and sharper attack. The result is a full frequency response with extra punch. Comes with single-conductor hookup cable. Slightly shorter .585″ height profile.
So basically, in the neck you get a slightly more vintage inspired P90, while in the bridge you get a more modern P90 for a bit of rocking out!
Let’s dive in
Upon picking the guitar up I found it to be a nice weight – heavy enough that you know it means business (as all good LP-type things should be) but not heavy enough to break your back. The neck is a nice medium C shape with no stickiness due to the lovely satin finish. Control layout is pure classic Les Paul, so no surprises there.
Okay… so it’s basically a chambered, P90 LP. I wanted MARSHALL tones, because obviously LP–> Marshall is where it’s at. The AFD is a bit overkill so I hit up the JTM45 and JCM800 models on my Line 6 DT25.
Plugging in, I was immediately surprised – the P90s in my Fret-King were jangly and very much like a fat single coil, as per conventional wisdom. The Core P90 was worlds away – it was woody, warm and vibrant. I think this is both a function of the pickups and the chambered mahogany body. In fact, many of the warm tones felt reminiscent of a 335-style semi-hollow to me. Very nice, just completely not what I was expecting!
Like it says on the box, the Duncan P90 in the bridge is a modern take on things, so it’s a little less chimey than you might expect from a vintage-styled P90, but a little hotter and more raunchy – I found it quite similar to the modern Gibson P90 that was in the LP Studio Tribute I had a few years back. It was better for overdrive, and a little less so for clean on its own. However, blended with the neck pickup, you get a wonderful, warm tone that’s almost acoustic sounding. Very cool.
Okay, so here’s the video with the toneclips so you can hear for yourself. It’s mostly stuff that sits in the clean to drive region, because that’s where I like P90s, where it’s dynamic enough that you can crunch it up with some aggressive attack, and pull it right back to get some cleanish tones.
- Great quality and workmanship.
- Great satin finish.
- Versatile pickup combination to cover modern and classic sounds.
- Finally, a winner on the aesthetic side of things for Godin!
Slightly less cool things:
- Neck joint wasn’t designed to sit quite flush, slightly intrusive up high.
- Some problems keeping in tune – probably needed a better setup.
3.75 Fuck Yeahs!
PS – for our new readers, that’s out of a total of 5 available Fuck Yeahs.
PPS – I have this cool little symbol (see below) which is for the rating system but as yet I’ve been too lazy to create one that shows a 0.75 Fuck Yeah rating… so… everyone, squint a little and use your imagination for now please.
Next time, on Six-String Samurai TV!
We’ve got an exciting look at a few of the Mooer Micro Series of pedals which we just got from our friends at www.guitareffects.co.nz!
I’ve already assembled a mini-board from these pedals and used them to great effect (puns, hilarity) at two gigs – check it out! Can’t wait to review them properly for you folks.