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Guitar Review: Godin Redline 1
For most of its history, Godin has built a reputation for making good rock and blues guitars, with a smattering of hollow-body guitars for jazz lovers. Deciding to break out of their comfort zone, Godin introduced the Redline series - made for shredders who love their active humbuckers. The Redline series was breaking new ground for the company, for it was the first time they had featured a line with active humbuckers.
There several Redline models out there - from a bare-bones single pickup, to the more standard two-pickup model with a Floyd Rose. Here is a look at the Redline 1 guitar, the most economically-built model of the series.
When Godin mentioned the Redline 1 was a "simple" guitar in their advertising blurbs, they weren't joking. The Redline 1 has a single humbucker - an active EMG81 humbucker. There is also one volume knob and one tone knob. That's it, in terms of electronics. You can't break down an electric guitar into anything simpler than that.
It comes in a variety of flame tops - green, red, black and orange. There is nothing subtle about the colour schemes. They are bold and bright, made to be in-your-face. The neck is relatively fast, befitting its intention of being played by aggressive players. The shape is reminiscent of superstrats, with an extra deep cut in the body to allow greater access to its 24 frets.
The Godin signature features twice on the guitar - once on the body, just above where the body and neck join, and once on the head. The headstock is all angles and painted black, with the signature in white paint.
Like most other Godins, the Redline 1 has a bolt-on neck. Unlike most other Godins which have metal tuners, the Redline 1 tuners are plastic and feel a little fragile, but they hold tune well.
Sound and play
The guitar is surprisingly light, thanks to its construction - it has a silver leaf maple centre with poplar wings. The popular takes the weight off while the maple helps the guitar maintain its resonance.
The rock maple neck is very smooth and playable. The edges are contoured, making it a very comfortable playing experience. It is a highlight of the instrument and it makes speeding up and down scales easy.
The single pickup can be polarising. You will either love the fact that it is an aggressive, distortion-loving beast, or bemoan its limitations. The Redline 1 loves its distortion and it really shines once the amplifiers are cranking. The Redline 1 has a biting sound, making it great for shredders. The EMG81 is sharp, hot and very responsive. The tone knob offers a surprising amount of choice and you can get a decent range of tones from adjusting it.
However, being that it is a single pickup - no matter how much you play with the tone knob, there are limitations. It's aggressive, yes - but not particularly subtle. It is hard to take the bite out of the tone without sounding muddy. The guitar sounds tinny when played clean, and again lacks subtlety.
For a budget guitar, the Redline 1 holds up very well compared to others in its price range. It's a quality-made instrument with stunning looks. Personally, I love the bright colour scheme of most of the available paint jobs. Its light weight makes it great for shoulders and also makes it easier to execute those rockstar moves.
However, it is rather one-dimensional - good for heavy metal and hard rock, but not much else. Like its colour scheme suggests, there is nothing subtle about the Redline 1. Still, if you are a metal player looking for a good-quality guitar on a budget, it's hard not to go past the Redline 1.
Its one-dimensional nature is more a reflection of the guitar being a single-pickup instrument, rather than the fault of the maker. If you are looking for an all-rounder guitar, you are better off looking for a more traditional set-up.
As for availability - the Redline 1 was something of an experiment for Godin and has been discontinued. You will still be able to find it on the second-hand market now and again. Keep an eye out on Ebay, especially.