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May 2014
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Builder Profile: Godin Guitars

Builder Profile: Godin Guitars

Dedicated Factories

Based entirely in North America, Godin Guitars has five factories in Quebec and one in New Hampshire. The factories are dedicated to building specific instruments entirely, as opposed to making necks in one place and bodies in another, and then assembling everything in yet another. This focus provides an overall understanding of the craftsmanship that goes into each guitar they build rather than silo-ing workers into a single component. The facilities are also located in smaller cities, which breeds more long-term employees and a family-like atmosphere.

“Some people stared with Robert 40 years ago,” says sales and marketing manager Mario Biferali. “Their wife and kids work there—it’s more of an old-school mentality where you go there, you work hard, and you build a life with this company.”

But Godin has also attracted a burgeoning following with its solidbody instruments, and it’s been energized by a number of high-profile players, including John McLaughlin, Marcus Miller, Brian May, Ritchie Blackmore, Bruce Cockburn, Peppino D’Agostino, and many more. Steve Stevens uses a 25 1/2"-scale single-cutaway LGXT with humbuckers when performing a number of Billy Idol songs live. “I use that for things like ‘Eyes Without a Face’ and ‘Flesh for Fantasy,’” Stevens says. “All my trem-bar kind of stuff.”

Daryl Stuermer, guitarist for Genesis and Phil Collins, is also a fan of the LGXT. His relationship with the brand dates back to a 2004 tour when Phil Collins’ bass player introduced him to Godin executives. Now when he hits the road, he takes the LGXT, a Godin Multiac Steel, and a Montreal Premiere. “I originally wanted a good electric guitar that would let me switch from an electric sound to a good acoustic sound,” he says. “The other bonus is that it has a 13-pin output for synth.” All the instruments remain pretty well stock to the way they are sold in the store. “I changed one LGXT and left the other one stock. It was more aesthetic than anything: I put on Schaller M6 tuners, chrome volume and tone knobs, and a chrome toggle switch. Other than that, they are fairly straight ahead.”

“I find that Godin allows the artist to shine through because it doesn’t have any preconceived notions of what it is supposed to be.” —Mario Biferali

Canadian Ingredients and Craftsmanship
A recent addition to Godin’s line is the Montreal Premiere, a thinline semi-hollowbody that takes acoustic guitar principles and incorporates them into an electric instrument. Many similar instruments feature a center block of solid wood all the way down the middle. However, the Montreal Premiere takes Canadian wild cherry top, back, and sides, and merges them with a “breathe-through carved spruce core” that only touches at the specific pressure points demanded by structural integrity. From a distance, the Premiere appears to be a classy, fairly traditional guitar. But inside, a surprising amount of technical advancement is apparent.

“It looks like a bridge—it has these arches inside,” says Biferali. “So what happens is that there is more acoustic resonance because the air column is bigger. It’s extremely light, extremely advanced, and that’s why you can get the same dynamics as an acoustic—because your pickup is only going to get what the guitar is giving it. It’s like having a $10,000 microphone but if the singer can’t sing, it’s not going to help.”

Besides demonstrating how Godin incorporates its acoustic expertise in its electric products, the Montreal Premiere exemplifies the company’s use of local wood supplies. “Some of the wood we use to build our guitars is literally less than a kilometer from our factories,” says Bifareli. “The maple and the silver leaf and the spruce—it’s right here. Our artisans have grown up in the woods, knowing how to dry wood, knowing how to cut the wood.”

The Montreal Premiere is built within a section of the factory called the Godin Premiere Atelier—a sort of boutique shop or mini factory within the larger production facilities in Richmond, Quebec. Dedicated to achieving the heights of craftsmanship, the Atelier features a hand-selected staff of less than 10 employees identified specifically for special projects. The Passion RG-2 and RG-3 S-style instruments are also constructed in this high-end laboratory where craft takes precedence over economics.

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