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Archive for October, 2017

So I did a little digging on my “new” guitar and contacted Godin directly to see if I could get some provenance information. By the way, the folks at Godin are awesome! Michel, the support person who answered my query originally, was so very helpful. If you have any Godin product, rest assured that you will get support! But I digress…

The guitar I’ve got was built in 1994. It was called a “Pro” model and replaced with the “Showcase” in 2002. It originally sold for $1200, though as a “Demo” model, I doubt it sold at full retail even back then. They’re worth about half as much now, but who cares? This guitar plays and sounds incredible!

For specs, here’s what Michel shared with me:

That’s an S&P Pro Rosewood. It actually has a solid spruce top, but the nitro finish has yellowed over the years so it looks darker than a spruce top. It also features a solid rosewood back, laminated rosewood sides, a mahogany neck and an ebony fingerboard and bridge.

So my thought that the top was cedar was wrong, but that’s totally cool that this was finished with nitrocellulose!

Here’s a gallery of some of the shots that I sent to Godin.

It is hard to explain the feeling I get when I play this guitar. It’s not because this was a gift or it was one of those fabled “closet gems.” This is just a damn good guitar, and to find out its provenance makes it even more special. I’m looking to get an LR Baggs Anthem system installed in it within the next week or so. So excited!

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Sorry, no official pictures yet. But I will follow up…

Out of the closet…

Wow! It has been a LONG time since I announced an NGD! (New Guitar Day) Part of it has been due to the fact that since I found my sound, I haven’t been that compelled to get any new guitars. But a rather big part of it has been due to a lack of funds. But that’s another story…

In any case, I didn’t pay a cent for this guitar. A very close friend gave this and two other guitars – which I’ll talk about in later articles – to me yesterday. The story behind them is that they were her uncle’s guitars. He passed away in 2002, and they had been sitting in storage since then. Her mother had been hanging onto them for nostalgia, but recently decided to give them away. She was going to give them to Goodwill, but my friend stopped her and said that she should give them to me because if I don’t keep them, I will find a home for them. I’m probably going to keep all three.

As to the guitars inherited, here they are:

1991 Godin Artisan ST
Hiroshi Tamura P40 Classical Guitar

1994 Simon & Patrick Showcase Rosewood

The Godin needs a bit of work. But I think a thorough setup will set it right. The Tamura, well, I’m not too sure about. It’s by no means an expensive guitar, but it does sound pretty nice. Always good to have a classical guitar around just in case… As for the Simon & Patrick, well, that’s what this article is about.

This guitar totally caught my eye when I opened the hard shell case. I took it out, gave it a relative tuning and started playing some chords and picking notes. The neck was PERFECT! Totally straight, and even with 15+-year-old strings, the sound was amazing! I wish it had electronics because I would’ve tried to gig with it last night. Oh well…

When I got home after my gig, I set out to do a bit of research on the guitar. I found a serial number lookup and found that it was constructed in 1994. I’m actually not exactly sure that it’s a Showcase model because the model space on the label was stamped with “DEMO.” Obviously, my friend’s uncle got this for cheap. I’m assuming it came from Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto, CA as a Gryphon tag was in the case that said, “This guitar was strung with D’Addario strings.” That actually impressed me even more because if it indeed came from Gryphon, it meant that it was a quality instrument as Gryphon only sells high-quality gear, even with there economy pieces.

Build… well kind of…

As for the guitar itself, as I mentioned, the sound was absolutely amazing! I had done a bit of research on my smartphone before my gig and found that it was made by Godin under the Simon & Patrick Luthier brand. I’ve known about Godin for awhile and knew that they started out as a parts manufacturer then went into selling high-quality, affordable guitars under different brand names. S&P is one of those brands.

But this “Showcase,” even if it started out life as a more budget guitar (it is actually the top-of-the-line in the S&P family), doesn’t sound, feel, or play like a cheap guitar. It has a warm, deep, and woody tone that simply speaks to me. Here’s what I have been able to glean from close inspection thus far:

  • Solid Rosewood Sides
  • 2-piece rosewood back
  • Mahogany neck with a slightly flattened “C” profile
  • Mahogany headstock with no laminate. Very nice.
  • Solid Cedar soundboard
  • Bone nut (?). Looks and feels natural.
  • It appears to have spruce bracing on the back and sides
  • Spruce X-bracing to support the top. Super cool!

The reason why I’m not completely sure about this being a Showcase model is that it has a cedar soundboard. All Showcase models now come with Adirondack spruce soundboards. BUT I absolutely love Cedar soundboards! My first Yamaha FG-335 had a cedar soundboard, and though it too was a budget guitar, it had an incredible sound. Cedar produces a warm, deep and resonant tone. It’s the kind of tone that penetrates your body and just resonates. I can’t wait to perform with it!

Another thing that I noticed that differs from the spec sheet on the S&P site is that the neck finish is actually semi-gloss as opposed to high-gloss. I need to confirm, but it appears to have a 25 1/2″ scale length. This seems to be in line with the spec sheet as well.

The fit and finish on this guitar are amazing. Other than a little pick wear on the soundboard, there wasn’t a scratch on this guitar when I opened the case. It’s obvious that original owner loved this guitar and took very good care of it.

This particular guitar coming to me comes at a very fortuitous time. My trusty Yamaha AP900 is finally showing its weariness of the road. After a couple of thousand gigs, it’s ready to be retired. I’m going to get it set up, then give it to one of my kids. And I was thinking a couple of months ago that instead of getting another OM, I’d like to go back to a Dreadnaught. I like the scooped tone of a dreadnaught, and for how my playing has evolved over time, a dreadnaught’s sound really appeals to me.

How It Sounds

I made a couple of quick recordings of the guitar this morning to demonstrate just how good it sounds. The guitar was recorded with a Nady RSM-2 Ribbon mic positioned about 4 feet away from me. I did a tiny bit of EQ by adding a little low cut to compensate for the mic that seems to boost lows way too much. Other than that, I kept the EQ flat. The ambiance that you may detect is not reverb, but room ambiance from my hardwood floors and walls that the back of the ribbon mic picked up.

Fingerstyle

Funky Strum

What’s so amazing about the sound of this guitar is that while the tone is deep and woody, there is clear note separation. This guitar is actually quite loud. But it doesn’t have a mushy tone at all. All the notes ring well together.

Moving Forward

I’m going to get the guitar set up and will have a pickup system installed. I’m probably going to go with an LR Baggs Anthem system. Yeah, it’s a bit on the pricey side, but I’ve listened to several independent demos and this system seems to provide the most natural sound when plugged in. I like the fact that it has a pre-amp built into it. I’d go with a more minimalist pickup setup, but the thought of having to run through a dedicated pre-amp means that I have to lug more gear to gigs; plus, it’s yet another thing that I have to plug in. So the Anthem is it for me.

Overall Impression

This is definitely a keeper and has given me a newfound respect for Godin. I went on some forums and most people talking about them loved theirs. I think I’m a new convert to this brand. But then again, I also think I got very lucky. With all commercially-available gear, no matter how expensive, you have to play a lot of them. I’ve played some Martins and Taylors that sounded like shit compared to this.

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