Purchased from: Used
Features — 8
The Art & Lutherie series are made by Godin, a Canadian company. Godin also makes the Seagull, Norman and the Simon & Patrick lines. This dreadnought is a 2006 model and I bought it used 3 years ago. A&L are the budget series. They don't have a binding at the back, they have a satin finish (which is cheaper to produce than gloss) and the headstock has a painted on logo. Where it counts, they are very similar in woods, shape, tuners, etc to the higher end Godin lines.
It has a medium, shallow maple neck with regular sized frets. Solid Cedar top, laminated Wild Cherry sides and back. What's really cool is that these woods are locally harvested and milled to make these guitars. The rosewood used for the fret board and bridge just doesn't grow in Canada, but everything else does. The tuners are the typical no name ones used by almost all Godin guitars and they work smoothly. Never had an issue with them. The body is very Martin like, with a square shouldered body and the square top headstock. Mine is in the "Antique Burst" colour and it just looks better and better as it ages, the accumulated dings and scratches adding more character to it.
Sound — 8
I play all sorts of stuff. Finger picking The Beatles "Blackbird" to blues to power chords to bluegrass and even some classical. It's bullsh-t, of course, to say that a certain guitar is only good for fingerpickers or strummers. The A&L certainly feels comfortable doing it all, at my intermediate level. It's not my only guitar, but it's the one that sits on a stand in the living room, ready for anyone to play. The sound of this guitar is balanced, with no weak areas. The bass is not quite as piano-like as my much more expensive Yamaha guitar, but it is not as cardboard sounding as say a cheap laminate guitar. Good clear mids and highs.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The guitar was very well setup when I bought it, and it's likely that the previous owner never touched it. No fret buzzes and no dead spots. Medium/low action. Overall, great quality, especially at this price. No frets that bite, tuning pegs turn with some light friction. The finish was already worn in spots, as the seller had played in such a way that the pick had worn thru the finish and even dug into the wood just beyond the pickguard, beside the saddle. The pickguard is a regular size, so I blame this on the player. On the other hand, the finish where your arm drapes over the guitar has chaned to a slightly softened "gummy" feel, almost as if body heat and humidity has reacted with it. Hey it adds more character!
Reliability & Durability — 8
I would certainly use this guitar any place, any where, and in the toughest situations, i.e.: at a campfire. No backup is required. It has stood up to 8 years of daily playing including many outdoor gigs-what else do you want? All the hardware has been 100% reliable. The finish is the weakest link. I've already mentioned the softened front finish. The other area is the back of the neck. It seems that the stain has faded in some spots, like where the thumb rests when you are playing open chords, even though satin gloss is still there.
Overall Impression — 8
I've been playing for 7 years. In that time, I've become a bit of a guitar gigolo, trading up and down every few months. Except for this one. Great sound from a budget guitar. The solid cedar top will only improve with age. It's a bit of a plain jane guitar that doesn't stand out, until you play it. The sound is very evenly balanced and you can make it do just about anything. I have owned examples of each of the Godin lines, several Yamahas, several Larrivees, and a few dozen other brands as well. I highly recommend this guitar, even at it's price when new. At the price I paid ($150) it's a bargain!