Sep 19, 2015
Godin are a company who generally seem to fly under the radar of most guitar players. Sure, they have a reputation for making really great, solid and affordable guitars, but somehow without the marketing push of the big brands, or a bevy of endorsed rockstars touting their guitars, they just seem to not register in the mainstream guitar-playing mass consciousness.
And yet, somehow, in a world where every manufacturer is moving production offshore in order to cut costs and boost profits, the main Godin Guitars line remains 100% made in their USA and Canadian facilities, with retail prices that put their other North American-made contemporaries to shame.
How on earth is this possible?? Well, let’s try and figure it out.
School’s in Session
The Godin Session is a twist on the quintessential Stratocaster variant. It incorporates an HSS pickup switching system, giving you the spank and chime of single coils in the neck and middle, with the added grunt of a humbucker in the bridge. These are all wired up with a 5-way switch. Continuing on the theme of versatility, the humbucker is coil-splittable via a push-pull tone knob. Visually, the cut-down pickguard provides a hint of Telecaster to the overwhelming familiar Strat look.
The headstock design is familiar and yet distinct from Fender’s – almost reminiscent of a Suhr or Anderson. The neck is a comfortable, modern C-shaped profile, satin finished with a gloss headstock face, which is a nice little touch.
The Canadian Laurentian Basswood body is a nice medium weight and in my case, finished beautifully in a slightly transparent light blue burst which Godin call Coral Blue. Kinda like Seafoam Green’s cousin in certain light. The body to neck joint boasts a contoured heel to give you comfortable access to the upper frets.
On the hardware front it’s Godin all the way, with the Godin branding visible on literally every piece of hardware on the guitar – pickups, bridge, tuners, the lot. Doing all this in-house, or at least not having to go through a middle-man to source and manufacture their components must go quite a long way toward minimising production costs.
This is a bit of double-edged sword though, and ties in to what is perhaps the one weak point of the guitar – the stock pickups. According to the branding stamped on the back, they’re Korean-made OEM pickups, made by the same folks who do the PRS SE pickups, but custom spec-ed for Godin. As stock pickups go, they’re actually pretty adequate – the single coils are medium output with a decent amount of chime and sparkle, and the humbucker has nice open mids, and matches the volume of the singles nicely. However, at higher gain settings you can hear them start to lose definition and become a little bit fuzzy.
So I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re looking at a Godin Session, maybe take into account that you might want to ditch the stock pickups at some point. They’re not terrible, but they’re not outstanding either. At the end of the day, lots of people do this for much more expensive guitars anyway!
One other interesting thing that I noticed was that all the plastic covers on the guitar, from pickguard to trem route and electronics covers, are made from the same 3-ply plastic material. Pretty clever move which allows them to just order or manufacture one type of plastic sheet for the whole guitar. More clever cost savings that don’t impact the quality of the guitar! Surprised that I’ve never seen this on any other guitar before.
Fly on, Little Wing
I haven’t actually ended up doing any proper clips for this guitar yet – I’ve been so busy just playing the heck out of it! But here’s a quick video that I did this morning to commemorate the passing of Jimi Hendrix. I did end up swapping out the pickups for DiMarzio Area 61 / Area 67 / AT-1 so unfortunately it’s not really what the guitar sounds like stock, but as I mentioned earlier, you’d probably want to replace the stock pickups at your earliest convenience anyway.
If you’re looking for a different-but-not-too-different take on the age old Strat theme, and not looking to pay Fender USA prices, well – this is the guitar for you! All you need is a pickup upgrade and you’ll have a guitar that rivals any American Standard Strat. This gets 4.0 F*ck Yeahs from me!