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Builder Profile: Godin Guitars

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Builder Profile: Godin Guitars


The 40th Anniversary Acousticaster commemorates the instrument that put Godin on the map. It still uses the 18 tuned metal tines under the bridge to get its unique tones, but it’s now available with a koa (shown) or rosewood top. Sales and marketing manager Mario Biferali wanted to reissue the instrument as is, but “Robert was like, ‘No man, let’s slap a new pickup in there—let’s bring it to the year 2013!’ Even when we do something historical, we crank it up a notch.”

“He was getting more sound out of it,” says Biferali, “but it was hard, because everybody would say, ‘Man, I love your guitars but, dude, finish that thing!’ It wasn’t shiny—it wasn’t even semi-gloss. It was literally satin [finished]. They’re walking into a guitar store, trying to sell what people thought was an unfinished guitar—but after the dealers heard the guitars, they’d be convinced.”

Those seemingly plain finishes were an early hallmark of Godin’s Seagull brand—that and the trademark narrow, tapered headstock that makes them easy to spot from a distance. Like the satin finish, the headstock shape was a practical decision: Godin chose it because it facilitates straight string pull and purportedly minimizes neck torque. He felt the latter was a particular boon due to the growing interest in alternate tunings.

Another early breakthrough was the Godin Acousticaster, which has 18 tuned metal tines mounted under the bridge to create its unusual sound. “There were a bunch of electric players that wanted an acoustic sound,” says Bifareli. “That’s how the Acousticaster differentiated itself. Here’s this thin, Telecaster-looking guitar with an electric guitar neck. But wow, it sounds acoustic when you close your eyes!” The company recently released a 40th Anniversary version of the Acousticaster that includes either a rosewood or a koa top.


Godin’s acoustic-electric Multiac Inuk Ambiance HG features 11 strings, including fi ve unison pairs, is derived from the popular Multiac Multioud Ambiance Steel—which is based on the Middle Eastern oud. Its chambered mahogany body is mated to a solid spruce top, a mahogany neck, ebony fretboard and bridge, and a Fishman Aura Pro system with 3-band EQ, tuner, blend and volume knobs, and four selectable sound images.

Like the plainly finished and unadorned Seagull tops, the Godin Multiac series took some time to catch on among players and music-store owners. Today’s Duet Ambiance models feature Fishman Aura electronics driven by an undersaddle transducer. And the SA (synth access) models utilize an RMC Poly-Drive pickup and transducer-equipped saddles under each string. Producing a wide range of tonal options, the instruments are easily identifiable visually by the sliders and controls on the upper bout.

“Even the Multiac—one of our biggest success stories to date—wasn’t, like, an immediate ‘Okay, I get it,’” says Bifareli. “It was something that had to be explained. We did a lot of product training on it. But with the sliders on the face, that’s just logic. Why put the knobs closer to the bottom when you can keep your eyes on the knobs and the neck if they’re closer to the top?”

Over time, Multiacs have gained a solid following and are some of Godin’s most well-known guitars. And locating the controls on their upper bouts has carried over to numerous other Godin models. The design has proven so successful, in fact, that there are 23 nylon- and steel-string models in the Multiac range, including the brand’s innovative take on ouds and ukuleles.

Mondo MIDI
Today, the Godin brand arguably might be most well known for its extensive use of MIDI-compatible technologies and components. Once again, this characteristic grew out of Robert Godin’s insatiable hunger for innovation and doing things differently. He experimented with different woods and setups, identifying what worked well and what didn’t. For example, the harder density of an ebony fretboard made the fundamental note emerge quicker, allowing it to track and be detected by the synth more efficiently. Bolton necks also proved to be more effective because they yielded less resonance—which can often confuse a synth that’s trying to accurately track a pitch.


The LGX-SA appeals to both traditional S-style and LP-style fans with its 25 1/2" scale, maple-on-mahogany wood complement, and dual Duncan humbuckers, and to that already-potent mix it adds undersaddle transducers and switching that yield both impressive acoustic sounds and the ability to tap into limitless synth-powered tones.

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