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Guitar Review: Godin SD

Updated on July 20, 2013

The Godin SD was one of the workhorses of the Godin range. It embodied the most familiar elements of the company - a versatile blues/rock instrument wrapped in an aesthetically-pleasing package. Godin are not known for keeping a model on their line for long, but the SD stayed as a staple for years - first released in 1997, it was discontinued in 2012.

It came in two versions - a short-scale 22-fret, and a longer-scale 24-fret. Here is a review of the SD24, the 24-fret version.


Appearance

The best way of describing the SD is that it's a hybrid of a stratocaster and a Les Paul. The shape is strongly reminiscent of a Les Paul, albeit slimmer. The electronics combine the best of both worlds, with a 2x single-coil and 1x humbucker configuration (all Godin-designed) and a five-way tone switch. Rounding off the electronics are volume and tone knobs.

The actual location of its manufacture can be confusing. Technically, describing them as "Made in the USA" is correct and you will find most sellers will describe them in that light. However, that is not the full story. In a nutshell - the parts were made in Canada, and then it was shipped to the USA where it was assembled. It's more accurate to say "Made in North America", but I guess that has less commercial appeal.

It comes with a tremelo bar, which you can easily detach if you're not a fan of them.

The pickguard is attractively reflective, giving the guitar an extra "bling" factor. The standard colours are red, black, blue, and honeycomb burst. Earlier models were solid-coloured, while the later versions had a burst finish. Some of the earlier versions came in other shades - for instance, my 1998 SD has a solid, sky-blue finish.

The older Godin SDs have the "Godin" signature in broad silver paint, with SD written on the top of the headstock. Later versions have the signature in black, with the model type written in small print along the bottom.

Sound and play

Typical of Godins, the SD is quite the ergonomic guitar. The rock maple neck is fast and contoured for a comfortable fit. There is a deep cut into the body to allow quick and easy access to the upper frets.

The combination of the five-way switch and the tone knob makes it easy to coax a range of sounds from the guitar. You can get a warm tone from the neck pick-ups, all the way to bright tones courtesy of the bridge pickup. This makes the SD a versatile guitar, capable of handling everything thrown at it. It has good clean tones, and happily soaks up distortion as well.

The tremelo is very responsive. A slight touch is all that is needed to invoke a response. It is also quite stable and the guitar maintains its tuning after use.

That being said, the SD is a jack-of-all-trades guitar that doesn't shine in one area. If there's one element of Godin that is weak, it is their electronics - and these pick-ups are no exception. The pickups are slightly underpowered, and the guitar can sound nasal and sterile. The single coils lacks some warmth, while the humbucker has a tinny sound when the five-way switch is in the furtherest position.

Generally speaking, the best tones come from the switch set in the middle positions. That seems to be where the sweet spots can be found.


Overall verdict

The Godin SD is a versatile guitar, and is a good choice if you are wanting a guitar that can cover all bases. It is highly playable, looks classy and is built like a tank. It is the sort of the guitar that can handle punishment. It features quality components with high standards of workmanship.

There are some imperfections with its tone so it probably works best as a back-up guitar, or if you are looking to upgrade from a beginner instrument. Despite some issues with tone, the Godin SD is one of the closest things you'll get to a hybrid lovechild of the Stratocaster and Les Paul. Overall, a good effort from Godin in making an all-round guitar.


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