Sound — 8
These guitars sound great. For the price, the only ones that came close (other than the Seagulls that are essentially the same guitar) were the sycamore top Ibanez, but the electronics are much better on the A&L. I used to play with a guy that has played professionally for over 20 yrs and uses Alvarez Yairi's, etc. He said that (plugged in) it sounded comparable to a lot of $1000 guitars from Martin, etc. The original Godin strings sound excellent but I usually use 80/20 bronze for a bit brighter sound. It has a well balanced sound unplugged and sounds great plugged in. I play fingerstyle as well as praise and worship and it just needs 80/20s to get that little bit of extra shimmer on the highs. For the price, I'd give it a 10, but on an overall spectrum I give it an 8.
Overall Impression — 8
I am definitely a fan of Godin acoustics. This guitar is much better built, better sounding, better looking, and better playing than most in the price range. I tried everything in reach from Ibanez to Takamine to Washburn when I bought this guitar and I firmly believe that it is the best guitar for the price. When or if it becomes unreasonable to play or repair, I will probably buy another A&L or Seagull maybe with a Spruce top this time. The only other brands I've considered since the are Breedlove and Taylor, but the cost a fair amount more as well. I strongly recommend looking into Seagull and A&L before you make a decision because they really make a guitar the right way in Canada, not the cheap way or the flashy way. For the price, it'd be a 10, but overall, I think an 8 is fair for this $450 guitar that can give your friend's $1000 Martins, Fenders, and Takamines a run for their money.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This question is difficult to answer. This is my main guitar and it has been used lived every weekend for the past three years in addition to other events and NEVER take a backup guitar. The only time it fails is when the battery runs out after about a year. I live in a very shifting climate that can get very dry and until recently I left it un-humidified. I just had a crack running along the side of the neck repaired and the treble side of the bridge is starting to lift up, but this is probably mostly due to my neglect for mother nature. For how much it has been used (and the fact that it was dropped on the headstock onto a hardwood floor), I'd say that it has held up well. It has endured extreme climate changes, transport in and out of -30 degree weather, heavy playing, and several collisions with music stands fairly well if you ask me. I believe that if you treat it right, it will last.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Factory set up is really good compared to most. Like I said, the new ones do have ramped string holes, but I had to do the ramping on mine. The saddle on mine wasn't notched (most non-custom shop guitars aren't notched though), and the grooves on the nut are a little deep on the higher strings (ideally they'd be a little more than 1/2 the string thickness deep, but again that's only found on custom shop guitars these days). Aside from those nit-picky details, it is a great factory set up. The frets are great, intonation and playability is great, I love the feel of the neck, and there were no visible flaws. The kerfing and bracing was well done, no glue oozing out anywhere, a very cleanly done bridge plate that isn't the size of Texas, and, overall, a really clean 'interior' not found on most guitar of equal price. Much better built than the $350 Ovation I own that has a 3 piece top with one piece looking like it was burnt with a torch on the inside, a difficult to adjust truss rod, and a terribly unlevel finish.
Features — 9
Mine has the thin, beautiful semigloss antique burst finish and was made in 2009. Solid Cedar top, cherry back and sides, and a silver leaf maple neck. The bracing is neatly tucked under the kerfing and no chunks of kerfing are missing which is nice on a low price acoustic. Its the standard dreadnaught cutaway with a plain Martin style headstock. I believe the saddle and nut are Tusq brand if I remember right. The inlays stop at the 12th fret and not all the side ones are there but that just adds to the rustic appeal. Tuners are plain and don't have a stabilizing screw that goes into the headstock but are still very good. The Godin 2 band EQ and piezo pickup work very well as does the tuner. The newer ones have nice ramped string holes on the bridges which are extremely rare in this price range but a feature that every guitar should have. Nothing special or exotic, but everything it does have does an excellent job for the price. You will need to install a strap pin.