SWS Rosewood SG
Quebecois have a knack for putting a unique twist on just about everything. The province, its people, and culture manage to be Canadian, French, American, and English all at once—making it a place of very unique style. So it goes when it comes to building guitars, too. Seagull—a division of Godin Guitars in Quebec—has always been very willing to impart this design individuality on its guitars, too, fusing forward-looking design elements with traditional materials. The Maritime SWS (Solidwood Series) Rosewood SG is no exception. Its most overt deviation from tradition is the Seagull headstock—a slender, tapering affair that yields straighter pull across the nut that can result in greater tuning stability and resonance. A more subtle design variation can be seen in the Maritime’s curvaceous body profile, which uses a slope shoulder not unlike a Gibson J-45, and a waistline that’s shifted a little further forward than the classic Martin profile. It’s a beautifully balanced design and a refreshing twist on a classic shape.
The Seagull is the only entirely satin-/ semi-gloss-finished guitar in our test group. Interestingly, the semi-gloss finish almost makes the Seagull feel more luxurious— highlighting both the quality of materials and the flawless construction on the exterior of the body. The solid spruce top’s grain pattern is mostly tight, but there are cool little grain patterns, too, and the solid rosewood back and sides lend the feel of a fine piece of furniture. Other stylish touches include a rosewood bridge, gold tuners, and crème-colored, almost-Bakelite-textured plastic tuning keys.
The 3-piece mahogany neck is shaped in a variation on the classic, flat-ish, thin C profile you see on other Godin-built guitars, such as those from Simon & Patrick and Arts & Lutherie. It’s an interesting and ultimately very comfortable and playable neck that feels like a hybrid between a classical neck and an OM—though in this case, the nut width is a narrower, more flatpicking-friendly 1.72".
Of all of our test guitars, the Seagull might have the most even and wellrounded voice. The midrange is beautifully airy and chiming, and the bottom end, while not booming, is a perfect, throaty complement to the sparking midrange and trebles—it makes the guitar growl when you tune the bottom string down a step or two. The Seagull also has a delightfully high volume ceiling. You can attack the strings as hard as you want without inducing any pronounced harmonic blur, and the rosewood back helps ensure the Seagull is loud. In fact, it’s hard to imagine being outgunned around a campfire jam with this guitar in hand.
Thanks to the Seagull’s superb tonal balance, neck profile, and responsiveness, it’s an exceptional fingerstyle dread, too. The same balance makes it a first-rate chord machine for rhythm work and vocal accompaniment. It may not have quite as much punch for single-note, bluegrass picking as some of the other dreads in our roundup, but given the Seagull’s agreeable tone palette and versatility, that’s a minor shortcoming.