I’ve learned to be skeptical about guitars that claim to be all things, but the new Godin Summit Classic CT Convertible—thanks to its comfortable playability, intuitive controls, and versatile Seymour Duncan P-Rails pickups—may make me a convert. Whether playing the Convertible through a vintage Twin Reverb, a Marshall Super Lead, a Sandora (which pays homage to the JTM45), or a humble Orange Micro Terror—or even at a gig inside a grain silo in a Mississippi cotton field that was the aural equivalent of a riot in a lunchbox—the Godin sounded great and felt familiar.
The Godin’s control layout is simple—a 3-way pickup selector, volume and tone dials, twin toggles that change the pickup settings, and a button for active/passive pickups. The guitar weighs about 7.5 pounds. The lower-bout cutaway meets the neck just above the 22nd fret, allowing comfortable access to the entirety of the mahogany neck, which has a smooth-finished, thin C-shape and is topped by medium frets. While Richlite is used for the fretboard, it plays and looks like ebony.
The guitar body is made from chambered mahogany, and the maple top has a familiar Les Paul-like arch. The finish on the test model was a high-gloss gold sparkle, and with white binding and a natural back, it’s every bit as handsome as any ’57 goldtop reissue. (The guitar also comes in crème brulee sunburst.) The tuners, bridge, and tailpiece are solid. Even the output jack is thoughtfully recessed so it’s less likely to be jarred loose, and when a cable’s plug is pushed firmly into place, it locks tight.
The Godin comes with a gig bag (a hard case is optional) that could probably use an additional layer of interior protection where the two pickup-mode switches touch the bag interior. They tore into the fabric during shipping and remained a literal sticking point every time the guitar was removed from the bag. A Cadillac like this deserves a better garage.
The Godin’s setup was right in my zone: low enough for fast picking and high enough for slide. And though the Summit Classic CT Convertible’s range of voices is impressive—and covers classic tone touchstones—it’s no simple ventriloquist. Each of the Duncan P-Rail settings (the pickups combine a Hot Rail coil and a vintage-voiced P-90 in a selectable configuration) is distinctive. While the Hot Rail rail setting is designed to be Stratocaster-like, it’s a little less bright than many single-coil pickups. So even when the bridge pickup exclusively engaged and the tone pot is all the way up you get a sound that’s more honk than scream.
The P-90 settings were my favorite. Both pickups sound warm, lush, and big in this configuration, with gorgeous, even-toned mids and none of the ratty, fragmented break-up that you can get when P-90s are pushed hard. The neck P-90 became my default setting for rhythm tones, and I flipped to the bridge or both pickups when I needed more punch for a lead. Occasionally I blended the neck P-90 setting and bridge rail—particularly when I really wanted to shear the air with a slide line—and found transitioning between pickup combinations seamless. Here’s another plus: The guitar’s wired so that when the rails or P-90s are used in tandem, they yield a hum-cancelling tone. These combined settings, while a little shy in the low end, typically feel open and airy—producing a fat palette that’s got enough drive for powerhouse rhythm playing and sailing leads.
While I often used a small boost from my J. Rockett Archer for leads, Godin’s proprietary HDR Revoicer, which transforms the pickups from passive to active and reshapes the EQ profile, can be a more appealing option for adding cut and presence to a lead tone. The HDR engages with the push of a little black button emphasizing frequencies that make the Godin snarl like a junkyard dog. It’s an indisputably tougher tone that adds definition without transforming the character of the guitar. Essentially, with the HRD engaged, the tone gets brighter—adding more high-end snap and more percussive attack to single notes and chords while, ultimately, retaining the instrument’s rich core tones.
At $1,595 street, the Godin Summit Classic CT Convertible feels luxurious and capable without being priced out of reach. And given the instrument’s high-quality build, good looks, comfortable weight, playability, and wide tone range, it’s really a lot of guitar for the money. While I’m inclined to build on a family of satisfying core tones with pedals, many players who are less stomp-centric will appreciate the extra gnarl and top-boost you get from the HDR Revoicer. The Duncan P-Rails make this a perfect axe for recording, where having a wide variety of sounds instantly available is always a plus. I’d have zero reservations about taking the instrument to any gig or session.
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