Godin Ses­sion Cus­tom Ltd

GODIN TAKES A FRESH LOOK AT A CLAS­SIC DE­SIGN.

Australian Guitar - - Contents - BY STEVE HEN­DER­SON

Godin Gui­tars – one of the big­gest gui­tar builders in the world – en­com­passes a num­ber of brands. Across this ‘fam­ily’ of mar­ques (which in­cludes Godin and R.Godin, Seag­ull, Art & Lutherie, Si­mon & Pa­trick, La Pa­trie, and Nor­man), the com­pany de­liv­ers a stag­ger­ing range of gui­tars that address var­i­ous re­quire­ments at var­i­ous price points. They’re an in­no­va­tive com­pany, and that in­no­va­tion is some­times a mat­ter of com­ing up with a “bet­ter mouse­trap” rather than a whole new idea. Such is the case with the Ses­sion Cus­tom LTD.

SAME, BUT DIF­FER­ENT

The Ses­sion Cus­tom LTD has a fa­mil­iar look, to say the least, but it’s hard to ig­nore the re­ally suc­cess­ful Strat/Tele/Les Paul/SG/335 de­signs when they “got it right” the first time around. Th­ese are still pop­u­lar and still per­fectly suited to the mod­ern player. So, at the risk of stat­ing the ob­vi­ous, the Ses­sion Cus­tom LTD is a Tele-style solid­body gui­tar that fea­tures a few twists to the clas­sic de­sign. The bound body is made of Span­ish cedar with a fig­ured ma­hogany top. It looks great and, unplugged, pro­duces a def­i­nite gr­rrang. But be ad­vised: Span­ish cedar is nei­ther Span­ish nor ac­tual cedar – it’s a type of ma­hogany from Cen­tral Amer­ica. It’s not as dense as Hon­duran ma­hogany, but it still has much of that rich midrange em­pha­sis and smooth sus­tain that we ex­pect from this tim­ber. It’s capped with a fig­ured ma­hogany top, so the Godin guys are clearly go­ing af­ter some thicker Tele tones.

The Ses­sion Cus­tom LTD fea­tures a whammy, a two-point ful­crum vi­brato unit that is su­per smooth to use and re­turns to tune ev­ery time. Com­bined with a very sta­ble rock maple neck and high-qual­ity ma­chine heads, the Ses­sion feels con­fi­dent – there have been no tun­ing prob­lems at all on the test in­stru­ment. The neck shape is the same com­fort­able C shape that we first saw on their Pro­gres­sion Se­ries a few years back. It has 22 frets, a 25.5-inch scale length, a 12-inch ra­dius and feels ex­tra friendly right from the start. It’s at­tached to the body with a four-bolt sys­tem, con­toured for an easy up­per-fret­board reach.

DI­VER­SITY OF SOUND

Us­ing a Mesa TransAt­lantic into an open-back 112 (C-90s), a Mesa Boo­gie Mk IV into a closed-back 212 (G12-65s) and a Mar­shall JCM800 212 combo, the Ses­sion pre­sented a rich rhythm tone with plenty of sus­tain and har­monic bloom af­ter the ini­tial at­tack. The back pickup is a Godin Cus­tom Ca­jun pickup, which is earthy, woody and or­ganic with a bright, but not shrill edge, plenty of gain and up­per-mid grunt to ef­fort­lessly cut through a mix. Through the amps’ drive chan­nels and a cou­ple of stomp­boxes (an old DS-1 and a Mesa FluxFive), the Ca­jun of­fers a har­monic grind that cuts though nicely with plenty of tight def­i­ni­tion. This is a great rhythm tone, and an even bet­ter lead tone. The front pickup will be a real sur­prise to most: it’s a Sey­mour Dun­can P-Rail, a killer trans­ducer that cov­ers a lot of styles. It’s a sin­gle coil blade pickup at­tached to a P-90, which can be com­bined for a full hum­bucker ef­fect. The sin­gle coil is skinny – a lit­tle like a Tele rhythm pickup – so it’s a pretty au­then­tic ‘neck’ sound. The P-90 is an ab­so­lute killer rock tone – honkier than a Fender sin­gle coil

be­cause of its width, and brighter than a Gib­son twin coil. If you’ve heard the fab­u­lous gui­tar tones on The Who’s LiveAtLeeds, then you’ve heard Pete Townsend’s P-90-equiped SGs. The Dun­can’s two sin­gle coils com­bine for a se­ri­ously rich hum­bucker tone. It’s a bril­liant de­sign that truly of­fers the best of all three pickup types. The pickup se­lec­tor is a five-way unit that of­fers (front-to-back) hum­bucker, P-90, sin­gle coil blade, neck blade and bridge.

All three sounds from the front pickup dis­played their unique char­ac­ter, from a thwacky Strat-like snap to an “All Right Now” honk. Through the two ped­als, there seemed no end of op­tions. Roll off the tone knob and you’ll find San­tana’s “Europa” tone (with the hum­bucker) and his Wood­stock “Soul Sac­ri­fice” tone (with the P- 90). Bring up the tone cir­cuit again and you’ll find Gary Moore’s front pickup sound (yes, even with a maple neck), with oo­dles of sus­tain and smooth midrange.

All this, and we haven’t yet en­gaged the High Def­i­ni­tion Revoicer. Godin’s HDR is a kind of bass and tre­ble ac­cen­tu­a­tor that dou­bles the num­ber of avail­able sounds, with­out com­pli­cat­ing the elec­tron­ics. In the Ses­sion Cus­tom LTD, which has such a va­ri­ety of tones, the HDR is a nice lit­tle bonus that can be used as a lead boost , in­creas­ing the out­put just enough to kick through the mix a lit­tle more.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

The Ses­sion Cus­tom LTD is a beau­ti­fully pre­sented take on a clas­sic gui­tar. The test in­stru­ment ar­rived in a sub­stan­tial gig bag, re­quired no setup to dive straight in and feels great in the hands from the first minute. Its vi­brant body and neck have a built-to-last con­fi­dence, and all of the mov­ing com­po­nents (whammy, tuners, pots) are top qual­ity.

In the sub-$4k price range, the Ses­sion Cus­tom LTD is a real stand­out and rep­re­sents ex­cep­tional value for money – es­pe­cially when you con­sider all of its ad­di­tional fea­tures. Its stylish pre­sen­ta­tion (how about that pearloid scratch­plate?) and comfy feel are a re­minder that North Amer­ica can still de­liver great gui­tars. Best of all, it plays and sounds like a pro gui­tar should, and that’s what it’s all about. Well, that and look­ing cool.

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