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At first glance, the Dorchester model has a unique, futuristic look that gives a nod to the classic retro designs of the late fifties and early sixties, with hints of Mosrite, Rickenbacker and Danolectro elements baked into the styling. Even by strumming unplugged, though, the retro comparisons end and the innovative design decisions and build quality begin to take over. To maximize the tonal response across the entire bandwidth, the designers at Godin selected a unique blend of tone woods for this model, which features an offset, double-cutaway chambered body with a silver leaf maple body center with poplar wings. This, combined with a bolt-on maple neck and rosewood fretboard, and 25-1/2” scale, provides the platform for each tone wood to exhibit its best attributes.
Poplar tends to have a very even response across the tonal spectrum, which seems to fill in any gaps in frequency response that one can experience with a maple body, yet at the same time retains the strong bookends of the frequency range and sustain that maple offers. This strong response across the tonal spectrum is augmented by the neck wood combination: it produces an unamplified tone that is snappy, bold and leans slightly to the bright side of the spectrum. The unplugged tone swirls with delicious overtones with plenty of sustain. Like other chambered guitars, the chambered body gives the model a slightly softer attack that makes one really want to dig on with the picking hand and make this guitar sing.
Thoughtful design decisions are also apparent in the cosmetic aspects of the Dorchester, which includes features often found on guitars at higher price points. The test model features a flawlessly applied, high-gloss black finish with a comfortable bevel along the top edge of the entire guitar. The finish is nicely contrasted by a single-ply white binding along the back edge of the body (think LP Custom), which is complemented by a Nordic White, single-ply pickguard and matching white truss rod cover. Another quality appointment is the use of rubber washers (anchored with wooden dowels) to firmly install the chrome Schaller strap lock-ready buttons. The tuners are a non-locking, chrome-finished Kluson 14:1 ratio tuners that are seated firmly in the matching colored headstock, and have smooth action across the tuning range. The guitar also features two black “top hat” style knobs (Volume and Tone) with a silver top and a four-way switch with a black tip. The two Lace Alumintone pickups (more on these to follow) are silver/ black and fit nicely into the color palette of the guitar. The angled neck pickup combined with the scalloped angled fret board edge gives the model a sleek, Mosrite-flavored appearance.
The chrome roller bridge is a work of art. The strings are anchored in a 3-screw tailpiece that feeds a fully adjustable bridge assembly with rounded chrome saddles. The edges of the Graph Tech nut have been honed and rounded, a nice finish detail I appreciate. The neck is attached to the body at the 20th fret with four screws through a pair of neck plates, providing the benefit of excellent upper fret access—but I found it a little too easy to execute neck stock bends. The neck pocket was clean, but it did have a slight gap where I could partially insert a business card. The fretwork is executed flawlessly, a definite highlight of this guitar. Combined with the “Ergocut” fretboard (a Godin shaping technique bevels the edges of the fingerboard and frets back in towards the center of the fingerboard), it makes the Dorchester extremely easy to play. The satin finished, medium-large C-shaped, tapered neck, combined with a 12” fretboard radius and medium jumbo frets, makes for a very comfortable playing experience.
The Dorchester comes to life with the help of a pair of the state-of-the-art, classically voiced Lace Alumintone humbucking pickups. The folks at Lace Music have a winning pickup design in the Alumintone, as it meets its intended goal of providing a very broad frequency response. These pickups utilize an aluminum exoskeleton in conjunction with conventional ceramic 8 magnets that use 95% less wire than traditional pickups. This not only reduces the overall weight of the instrument (by about 1/2 pound), but this design is intended to enhance the nuances of your amplifier.
Amplified, this guitar cuts its own swath in the sonic landscape, delivering four unique tones in both clean and overdriven settings. Plugging into a vintage blackface Fender Bandmaster driving a 2x10 Music Man cab, the Dorchester responded with chime and authority across the entire tonal spectrum. The neck pickup is woody, but not too “boomy,” and both pickups in parallel (position 3) offer a wonderful, harmonically rich experience perfect for fingerpicking. The bridge pickup was somewhat strident, but backing off the Tone knob a couple of notches produced a tone reminiscent of blending a 335 with a Gretsch. Adding a dimed Barber Burn Unit to the mix kicked things up with the position one setting (both pickups in series), delivering a searing tone with the edge of harmonic feedback within easy reach.
The bridge pickup held up well, delivering a great, snarling seventies rock tone that would make Pete Townsend think twice before sending the guitar headstock-first through a 4x12 enclosure. I did experience a touch of microphonic feedback in the bridge setting— this is a typical issue with chambered body guitars. The neck pickup alone serves up its own tone that had me playing Neil Young one-note leads with reckless abandon. Similar drive tones were had testing the guitar through a Carr Mercury, as well as a modded Marshall JTM-30 (Both amps running EL34 output tubes). Even as someone who already owns too many guitars, I would give serious thought to adding this uniquely styled tone machine to my arsenal.
You enjoy being on the cutting edge of guitar styling and design—all at a great price.
You are more of a traditionalist seeking more established tones, or a high-gain shredder.
MSRP $1250 - Godin Guitars/Richmond - godinguitars.com