5th Avenue CW Kingpin II Archtop review by Godin

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.5 (21 votes)
Godin: 5th Avenue CW Kingpin II Archtop

Price paid: $ 849

Purchased from: SGCNation.com

Sound — 8
Make sure to check out the video to get some actual audio examples of the sound. P-90 pickups seem to be undergoing a sort of renaissance as of late, and I was actually very surprised with how warm and balanced Godin's sound. You can't get an infinite amount of different tones out of it, but the P-90's really are a great touch. As you can hear in the video, it sounds ok unplugged, not really its best feature though. Due to the nature of the build (shallow body, cutaway, size, etc.) it's not a shocker that it lacks the depth and body of a full acoustic. While it may sound a bit thin, it's still very passable as an acoustic, but it shines brightest plugged in on the neck position.

Overall Impression — 9
Overall, the Kingpin II scored a very respectable 8 out of 10 in every category thus far, but there's really something intangible that makes it stick out. Even though it's a little thin acoustically, there's something about it that still makes you want to just pick it up and jam on. I can't decide if it's purely the classy, old-school looks and design that are so charming, but for the money, I've yet to play anything quite like it. Definitely worth checking out.

Reliability & Durability — 8
The quality of the components are seemingly exceptional. The tuners feel good, knobs and switch are solid, and even the bridge is noticeably nicer than others in it's class. I'd have no reason to believe it wouldn't be reliable in any way. As far as durability goes, it is extremely lightweight and, like most archtops, wouldn't be able to take a lot of abuse. Luckily, it comes with that totally uncool and revolutionary TRIC case, so the only abuse you'll have to worry about will be from others making fun of your bicycle-helmet-guitar-case.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I'm personally not too crazy about the stock strings they ship with, but it plays very well for a factory setup. You can hear a little buzzing in the video, but it should be a simple adjustment away, otherwise it plays great. The finish is top notch, custom finished with a satin sheen that's supposedly based off of 19th century French polishes, the accuracy of which I can neither confirm nor deny. It's also the winner of the coveted "Sean Daniel Pickguard Of The Year" award. Overall very high quality craftsmanship, but docked a few points on strings and setup.

Features — 8

YouTube preview picture
It has some pretty interesting features, especially considering the market isn't exactly saturated with affordable archtop electric guitars. It sports 2 Godin proprietary P-90 pickups, representing the incredibly straightforward electric aspect of the instrument. Aside from the looks of the guitar, it's pretty bare bones, however the aesthetic value here is arguably the most important feature for this particular guitar anyway. An adjustable bridge, classic f-holes, contoured high-gloss headstock, floating pickguard and cream binding truly put it a cut above others in the same price range. It also comes with Godin's special TRIC case, which is incredibly weird. It claims to offer unparalleled protection from damage and the elements, they even temperature tested it in environments ranging from -50 to 150 degrees Celsius. (Note: 'Celsius' appears to be a crude, non-American form of measuring temperature, meaning I have absolutely no grasp what'soever of what -50 to 150 degrees represents, albeit it sounds impressive). The case is super lightweight and ergomatic but suffers from a crippling case of being totally 'uncool'. The best way to describe it is like a guitar case made from the inside of a bicycle helmet, so take that for what it's worth.

25 comments sorted by best / new / date

    if he was so worried about grasping the temp test, type the conversion into google - wow amazing
    Paddy McK
    Samhuinn wrote: Celsius crude? As much as this remark may be a joke, it's quite ignorant to say the least ..
    Yeah, we aren't all American on here, and Celcius makes perfect sense. Not really appropriate on a supposedly multinational site to have cultural bias like that.
    Paddy McK
    Pippers wrote: It was obviously a joke. Way to get butthurt over nothing.
    I don't think anybody's actually offended by it, it's just a pretty moronic thing to say on a site that's used by people from all over the world. There really shouldn't be any bias towards a particular country
    Celsius crude? As much as this remark may be a joke, it's quite ignorant to say the least ..
    Pretty sure most country's use Celsius but whatever... Gordon's are pretty sweet i tried out a nylon multiac it's a pretty Beastly guitar wouldn't mind trying out some others by them.
    Paddy McK wrote: Pippers wrote: It was obviously a joke. Way to get butthurt over nothing. I don't think anybody's actually offended by it, it's just a pretty moronic thing to say on a site that's used by people from all over the world. There really shouldn't be any bias towards a particular country
    And of course, UG is based in Russia, so the non-american remark makes little sense. Anyways, I do think celsius is quite convenient. Melting point of water = 0 degrees. Boiling point= 100 degrees.
    Well temperature aside. As a Kingpin owner and a Canadian, I want to thank you for the review. I have 3 electric and 4 acoustic guitars as well as the kingpin. Every time I plug it in it amazes me.
    It doesn't make sense to cater your company's product specs to ONE country that refuses to use the Celsius system, especially if the people living there have no clue what Celsius is even measuring
    I coulda swore my pupils dilated when I saw this guitar.. so beautiful!
    vjh wrote: -50 to 150 (c) = -58 to 302 (f)
    You just made all the work that the lazy people didn't want to do.
    Let's not forget that this guy took thre time to write a review for us. Thanks brother. It helped.
    This is an amazing guitar, especially for the money. I play it through a 1953 Fender Princeton totally dry with Thomastik Infeld JS112 flatwounds and the tone is so perfectly just a little bit not jazz not blues not anybody else's tone that I can't even imagine buying a different archtop.
    It was obviously a joke. Way to get butthurt over nothing.
    Simple Jack
    Agreed. Lighten up people - it was a harmless quip in a well structured and down to earth article. And I'm someone who also measures temperature in Celsius.
    I own the Cognac Burst, beautiful axe. I bought it used, about half the new price. Always wanted a real hollowbody; what tipped me over was the big, round slide sound on Dylan's "Modern Times" album. (Yup, I'm a slide player.) My Kingpin came with two flaws: The pickup switch blanks out sometimes on the neck pup, and the wooden bridge was not intonated right for the B string. I swapped out the bridge for a GFS TOM, good and cheap upgrade. Put on 11-52s, may go up to 12s, but no hurry. The more I play this axe the better it sounds to me. I'm tuning it mainly to open A, adjusted to a hybrid style (barre chords as well as slide), and it plays beautifully well. Running through various amps, with Tech 21 Blonde or Zoom MS50G pedals for effects. I didn't like the Godin P90s at first, found them too thin. The key for me was to roll down the treble about half. That gives a clear top end with ringing lows. The pups hum in positions one and three, like nearly all P90s (Reverends are an exception), but not badly. The middle position is worth owning the guitar. The guitar tunes and keeps tune well. It's very light and comfortable; the upper neck access is phenomenal for a guitar of this type, I can hit the double octave with the slide. If I'd paid new, it would have been a hard choice between the Kingpin and a Reverend Pete Anderson sig model. But I would pay full price for this guitar, it's well worth it. A unique, beautiful and great sounding axe that you can also use for acoustic practice. For solo gigs, this will be my go to, because it sounds big and full.
    Agree with last post. I've been playing over 30 years now relentlessly and have guitars that would make your head spin. This is a great instrument by any standard. Mines the HB cognac version. Considering an Epi Joe Pass or Ibenhad Artgore are in the same price range is insane for what this guitar is. This is the guitar I use all the time now. For hardware, the stock tuners I have no trouble with, smooth action, not sure ratio but I wouldn't ever bother upgrading them. Same as the nut. The pups are way way hot for an archtop in my opinion, but keep amazing tone and have proven to be exceptionally versatile when tamed by the vol/tone knobs. With volume on 10% and tone the same the sounds still sweet stuff, great pups, just a bit wild. The strap buttons even fit the schaller locks I use. Little victorys! On the downside, I ditched the graphtec bridge, switched out a floppy factory toggle (boo! To Godin on the crappy assed toggle), replaced the factory pots for some old Gibby 500k pots and put on 12 gauge di'add chromes. Tails kinda bare bones boring but does the trick. The finish on this guitar is quality. Binding too. Neck feel couldn't be any better. The wood in this guitar is like nothing else. Quality of this guitar, minus the hardware, just the guitar alone is off the scale. I'm Canadian but I've never been a fan of Godin one bit until now. Makes me wonder how much cash I wasted on other guitars haaahaaa. I'd really love to know what model pups these are in cw2hb. If they are the Duncan made Godin version of custom customs or something else. Would love to hear them in a solid body. If your thinking of getting this guitar I hope my words here help. You may find the exact same problems but maybe also get a guitar you'll love like I do as well. Cheers. Kill the inch.
    dylanzig wrote: if he was so worried about grasping the temp test, type the conversion into google - wow amazing
    Bill Igerent
    Celsius, also known as centigrade, is the metric scale and unit of measurement for temperature that the rest of the developed world has moved to in pursuit of greater scientific accuracy. It is based (originally) on 0C being the freezing point of water and 100C being the boiling point of water. Then you can get all technical and divide it up into decimals a bit hi-tech, I know, but there you go. In the UK they still teach us about the Fahrenheit scale we got rid of when we came up to speed with the 20 century, so that we can still communicate with bozos who still count on their fingers. - dohh.
    I'm Canadian and thought the quip about temperature quite funny...
    I have a problem with toggle too. Fix this Godin! Two reports means you have a supplier issue. HiOtherwise still think it's a great sounding git that's fun to play, amped of notl.