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Review: Godin 5th Avenue Archtop

Review: Godin 5th Avenue Archtop

Godin''s first archtop retails for around $500 -- but how does it sound?

I have to be honest, I’ve been stuck in a rut recently. I’ve played the same guitar, which I love dearly, for over ten years. Don’t get me wrong I will always own this guitar, but I''ve had a hankering for something new. You know, to spice things up a bit. When The 5th Avenue arrived, I knew I had found a guitar to spark some creativity and excitement back into my old routine.

First Impression
The optional case that this particular guitar came in caught my eye immediately. It’s made out of a high-tech lightweight material called Expanded Polypropylene. It looks like the styrofoamy material that bike helmets are made of. It’s heat and cold resistant, fire resistant, and it floats! It’s durable and mobile, a nice compromise between the protection of a hardshell, and the weight of a gig bag.

Holding the 5th Avenue I noticed right away how woody this guitar smells. The smell of wild cherry wood just pours out of this guitar -- it smells similar to cedar. I believe the better the wood smells, the better the tone, so I always smell the soundhole of an acoustic guitar that I''m thinking about buying. An old friend of mine has a 1995 Martin HD28 and that thing smelled like a lumber yard; 13 years later, it''s the best sounding Martin I''ve ever played.

Au Naturale
The top, body and sides of the 5th Avenue are made from Canadian Wild Cherry. The body of the 5th Avenue features a molded arched top with classic f-holes, as well as an adjustable rosewood bridge. The model I received had a Natural finish with a contoured, high-gloss headstock. This guitar is built solidly. There are no gaps in any of the pockets and there were no visible flaws in the smooth finish. The old school tuning pegs felt solid and held their tune well. The nut is a Tusq nut by Graphtech - it was dressed nicely with no burs in the grooves, helping tuning stability.

Play Time
Everything was tight with no buzzing of any kind. The action was set perfectly, I was able to play slide and still do some legato runs with no problems. The neck felt comfortable with the flat 16-inch radius, though the light satin finish was not as nice or smooth as raw wood. Still, it didn’t get sticky or slow me down when playing for extended periods. The frets were dressed perfectly, with no dead spots or rough textures.

The notes really pop off the top of this guitar. The tone is bright, woody and clear, similar to maple with clear note articulation and nice sustain. Adding a pickup would open up a whole new sonic world, which Godin did with the King Pin model, which features a P-90 in the neck position.

The Final Mojo
The 5th Avenue is an excellent crossover guitar. It''s not just a jazz guitar; this versatile guitar can handle a wide variety of styles, from slide to alt-country and blues. Even bluegrass jam in the living room with your buddy who plays mandolin! Of course this guitar can also excel in a quiet jazz setting. If you''re looking for something different or want to spark some creativity, give the 5th Avenue a shot.
Buy if...
you''re looking for a versatile, well-made instrument that inspires new ideas.
Skip if...
metal or punk is your thing.

MSRP $625 - Godin Guitars -