Godin takes a shot at a classic design. By Steve Henderson
Canada’s Godin Guitars have been building guitars for over 40 years. They’ve developed a range of instruments, under an assortment of marques, that cover most of the variants that anyone might want: traditional solidbodies with various pickup configurations, thinline electrics, old school-style jazz boxes, traditional acoustics, chambered solid acoustic/electrics, nylon acoustic/electrics with curved fretboards, solidbody acoustic/electric mandolins and ukes, and hybrid guitars that will do electric, acoustic and synth-access all at once. They also do quirky: the Merlin (a fret-able dulcimar-ish instrument), the acoustic/electric solidbody Multioud, the Inuk (a fretted Multioud), the acoustic/electric solidbody Cavaquinho, the synth-ready A10 (a solidbody six-string with triple courses for the first and second strings) and the strange, but too-much-fun Glissantar: an 11-string chambered solidbody with no frets.
BACK TO BASICS
It’s a seriously diverse catalogue, ranging from traditional to modern to exotic to weird to niche, and always with the player in mind. Recently, the Godin folks have gone back to basics with a beautifully made instrument called the Summit Classic, which features some familiar ideas alongside a few subtle refinements. The Summit is a maple-top, twin-humbucker, set-neck single cut with a 24 ¾” scale, a 12” radius and a three-a-side headstock. So, let’s call a spade a spade: the Summit is a Les Paul-style instrument; a time-honoured design that has contributed to every style of music since 1952.
Godin have taken a good hard look at the “original” and fine-tuned the design with some detail of their own. The Summit is a chambered solidbody, but unlike other chambered solids, these chambers are each tuned to a different note to enrich the sound, then vented into the pickup cavities to allow the chambers to “breathe” and add some acoustic flavour to the output. Add to this their proprietary High Definition Revoicer (HDR) and an active circuit that augments and boosts certain frequencies, and the Summit can deliver quite a variety of humbucker-style tones.
Some less critical (but nice) refinements include the rear comfort chamfer, super durable Richlite fretboard, semi-recessed jack socket and control knobs, and one-piece neck binding that is fitted around the end of the fingerboard rather than mitred (as on other brands, where it shrinks and opens up). There’s even binding around the headstock. The Summit comes standard with a Graphtech bridge and nut, Godin’s special lightweight mini machine heads, and Seymour Duncan pickups. There’s a load of great features on the Summit, and they make for an exciting variant on this style of guitar.
Unplugged, the Summit immediately presents a loud and toneful voice. The lows have a springy bounce to them and the upper mids ring with a clear chime. Strum a big chord and reach up to the headstock and you’ll feel a surprising amount of resonance. Plugging into a Boogie head with a custom 212 (G12-65s), the Summit comes alive with rich and vibrant tones. Through the clean channel, the Summit sounds big and bold, with a tight but lively bass and rounded trebles – the front pickup especially has a strong and full tone. Under the carved maple top, the chambered body is Spanish cedar (Cedrela Odorata) – which is neither Spanish nor cedar, but part of the mahogany family. It weighs less than Honduran mahogany, has a lovely grain, and is a very fine tone wood. As for weight and resonance, the Summit is reminiscent of early Les Pauls which, compared to later models, were much fuller tonally and not nearly as heavy.
READY TO DRIVE
Through the drive channel, the humbuckers deliver that addictive, syrupy midrange that we love so much. Thick and juicy, it has a touch of extra harmonic information thanks to the vented chambers. Kick in the HDR and the overdrive steps up a notch without any fizzy attack – just plenty of overtone-laden grunt. In reality, the HDR gives the Summit three extra sounds, and manipulating the very smooth controls (one tone, one volume) provides plenty of subtlety within those six options. Into a cranked Bassman, the HDR delivers plenty of signal to clip the preamp into that Bassman growl (then insert an overdrive pedal and stand back).
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Summit’s neck is slick and fast, without being particularly thin, and the fretwork is faultless. The sunburst is superbly rendered and the overall appearance is deliciously classic. The Summit is also available with Duncan P-90s or P-Rails (I have these in my Godin Icon – fabulous), so there are options if you’re after something a little different. The fact is, everything about the Summit speaks of deliberate care and attention to detail. There’s obviously a lot of passion involved in this re-vamp of an iconic design because the improvements are significant without being blatant. The Summit is a vintage-style guitar for the contemporary player who appreciates great feel and tone.
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Mahogany set neck with 22 frets
• 24.75” scale, 12” radius
• Chambered body
• Seymour Duncan pickups
• Faultless full-gloss finish
• Superb tones and playability
• Great build quality
• The chambered body is brilliant
• Some players may prefer a four-knob configuration