5th Avenue CW Kingpin II Archtop Review

manufacturer: Godin date: 12/15/2011 category: Electric Guitars
Godin: 5th Avenue CW Kingpin II Archtop
It would make sense that Canadian-based guitar manufacturer Godin (also responsible for Seagull acoustic guitars) rarely is mentioned alongside the American-made counterparts. The 5th Avenue Kingpin II has become one of their most popular models so we had to check it out.
 Sound: 8
 Overall Impression: 9
 Reliability & Durability: 8
 Action, Fit & Finish: 8
 Features: 8
 Overall rating:
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review (1) pictures (4) 24 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8.2
5th Avenue CW Kingpin II Archtop Reviewed by: UG Team, on december 15, 2011
2 of 4 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 849

Purchased from: SGCNation.com

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. // 8

Sound: 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. // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: 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. // 8

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 8

Overall Impression: 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. // 9

- Sean Daniel (c) 2011

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