Unique design that bridges showy and subdued. Excellent build quality, sound, and playability.
Cedar top may let down heavy-handed strummers.
Godin Metropolis LTD
Ease of Use:
Many distinctive, modern instruments populate Godin’s history. You could even say forward-looking design is a fundamental part of the company’s identity. After all, you’d be hard pressed to find an instrument more closely identified with Godin than the very untraditional Multiac series. Regular old flattops? Until now, Godin has been content to leave that business to its sister companies like Seagull, Simon & Patrick, Arts & Lutherie, Norman, and LaPatrie.
But maybe it’s that spirit of design adventure that now finds Godin building its own line of relatively traditional acoustic guitars, ranging in size from the Metropolis dreadnought and Fairmount concert to the Rialto parlor. These guitars are built with solid spruce or cedar tops, and solid rosewood or mahogany backs and sides. That formula, plus an adaptable L.R. Baggs Anthem preamp/pickup system make the top-of-the-line Metropolis LTD Havana Burst HG EQ a very intriguing mid-priced partner.
Though visually rooted in tradition, the Metropolis LTD is hardly reserved. The round-shouldered body, amber-red Havana Burst finish, unconventionally shaped pickguard and mock tortoiseshell peghead overlay—which looks like a more luxurious take on an old Kay—make up a distinctive whole that mates upscale design elements with ’50s department-store guitar chic. The distinctive fretboard inlays offer a unique spin on classic Gibsons and Epiphones. My only minor complaint is that the white body and neck binding looks a little stark compared to the retro design elements elsewhere. Aged binding might better complement the vintage-looking finish.
The Metropolis boasts a solid cedar top, which until the last few decades was much more common on nylon-string guitars than on steel-strings. Cedar, however, has been a staple tonewood among the greater Godin family of brands for years, and it looks great here. The back and sides are solid mahogany, and the fretboard is Richlite composite. Ordinarily, you’d expect to see ebony on a guitar in this price range, and the use of these materials here is notable and might give some players pause. Considering how nicely the guitar is built, though, such deviations from tradition and the move to more sustainable materials are not, in my opinion, a deal-breaker.
Out of the box, the Metropolis’ setup is first-rate. The Graph Tech nut is immaculately slotted, and the fretwork is excellent. The sunburst finish was clearly applied with great care and rubbed to a faultless gloss. The bracing, kerfing, and other interior construction elements are pretty much perfect too.
Metropolis’ superb playability is immediately obvious. The medium C-shaped mahogany neck and 25.5" scale length are super comfortable. At 1.72", the nut width splits the difference between the narrower standard of 1 11/16" and the fingerpicker’s favorite, 1 3/4". The fretboard’s 16" radius makes bends up the neck feel nearly as easy as cowboy chords in open position. By the way, I rarely noticed that the fretboard is Richlite and not ebony.
In many respects, the Metropolis sounds as good as it plays. Cedar, which is less dense than spruce, tends to sound relatively dark compared to spruce, and a bit snappier than some mahogany tops. But that balance between bright and dark, the snap, and rich overtone content means the Metropolis responds well to fingerpicking. I tried a range of fingerpicking approaches on the Metropolis—some basic Travis-picking patterns in standard tuning, as well as some improvisations in open G and DADGAD—and found the guitar’s tone a perfect match for the smoky vibe of its finish. It sounded warm and rich, and just a bit subdued, with excellent balance from string to string. It also responds very dynamically in pick attack and placement.
Single-note jazz lines and drop-2 chords also sounded great with a pick. But if you’re a player who likes to really dig into the strings, you may miss some of a spruce top’s extra headroom. The good news, though, is that the Metropolis is available with a natural-finish spruce top and that version is a hundred dollars less.
The guitar is also outfitted with the popular L.R. Baggs Anthem system, a combination of pickup and mini internal microphone, which sounds natural and warm. It’s a very versatile solution making the Metropolitan a great ready-for-the-stage guitar that doesn’t require any modifications.
In the form of the Metropolis, the ever-adventurous and electric-centric Godin has paradoxically made one of its most deviant moves by building a (mostly) traditional flattop. It’s beautiful and commands attention. The playability is excellent. It’s also made entirely in North America. There’s no arguing that the Metropolis is built to deliver in recording and performing situations right out of the case.