Cleartone Strings

The Godin guitar came with 12s. They sounded great acoustically but were a bear to bend. Yeah…I know – it’s a jazz guitar – stop being a wimp. Anyway, Guitar Center was blowing out Cleartone stings and I picked up an 11 gauge pack. In short – I like them! I’ve used Elixers in the past and while they do last a long time, you really feel the coating. The Cleartone strings feel normal to me. (Kudos – they also came in an eco-friendly package)

The 11s feel perfect on the Godin – not quite as acoustically loud but will be much nicer to play.


New Guitar – Godin Kingpin 2 w/2x P-90s

I’ve been looking for something hollow. I sold a Sheraton 2 recently that I really liked to pay for another purchase. It seemed to be the best bet after auditioning a number of 335 style guitars. But, I was missing those tones.

On a recent trip to Guitar Center, I was trying every hollow/semi-hollow guitar on the rack. I tried $3K Gibsons to $300 Dots…and ran into the Godin Kingpin. (reviewed in a recent post) I’ve never tried one but heard that they were quality guitars. The one I played had a burst which was nicely done and a single P90. The burst color was a little odd but attractive. It sounded so much better than anything else. The fit and finish were impeccable and it sounded amazing through a Princeton and Hot Rod III. Very bluesy and also could work as an acoustic. I thought…”too bad it doesn’t come with two P90s”. After a little research I saw it was available with two P90 or even two humbuckers. Better yet, Amazon was selling them for not much more than the price that GC wanted for the single pickup model…and a couple of hundred less that other dealers.

It arrived yesterday and it’s been impossible to put down. The playability is excellent for this style guitar. What I mean by that is that it’s an archtop and not for crazy soloing or bending. But, it sounds great for blues, jazzy tones and acoustic style strumming. I tried it with some dirt pedals and it can cover heavier tones using the bridge pickup but I suspect it could feed back if I got the volume up too high with that sort of gain. I’ll experiment with string gauges although I suspect it’s going to like heavy ones.

Anyway, great instrument, amazing value, perfect setup, and versatile.


Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin – Mini Review


Sometimes, you happen upon something unexpected. After checking out that Albert Lee at Guitar Center, I was noodling with a bunch of semi and full hollow body import guitars (Epiphone Dots, Casinos, Zephyrs, Sheratons, 339s). They were OK. (I once had a fabulous Sheraton but sold it to a friend)

In the middle of the rack was this interesting baby. It’s a Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin. Godin is a Canadian company that’s known to make great guitars but they don’t see a lot of distribution in the states. On a whim, I pulled it down and plugged into a Fender Blues Deluxe. All I can say is WOW. The socks were knocked off and landed in the store’s drum department. The 5th Avenue sounded huge with the single P-90 single coil pickup (my favorite type of pickup). I dialed in a little dirt and notes jumped out. It was articulate and touch sensitive…with an almost biting Gibson 335 tone but with more bottom. With the amp turned off, it had a nice acoustic sound that would be great for around the house playing.

Fit and finish were flawless with fretwork on par with something from Fender’s custom shop. The matt/satin finish was nice enough – subdued. This was clearly a product of fine CNC machine work and hand finish.

Even better news, there’s a two P-90 version available! (and a no-pickup model too)

Here’s a very tasty jazz video featuring the guitar: Some cool jazz with the Godin

and another video with more blues/rock (and some raunch in the middle) Second Video

Music Man Albert Lee – Mini Review


I made a little visit to Guitar Center after dinner tonight (a dangerous habit). I’ve been looking at these Music Man Albert Lee models for quite some time but have never played one. This one isn’t much of a looker with the plain wood finish. (kinda boring actually) The all-rosewood neck had perfectly finished frets but was too skinny for my taste. It’s too bad, it played great and the 5 different pickup sounds were very versatile. Les Paul, Tele, and Strat tones in one guitar. Fit and finish were flawless. It even had a compensating nut (Buzz Feiten) to improve the intonation. And that all-rosewood neck!! MM needs to offer a more traditional neck contour as an option – they’d sell a lot of them.

While I was there, I picked up a couple of MM John Petrucci models. Again – beautiful finish, very versatile pickup system, great playability but the necks were too small for me.

These guitars are on par with the high-end, boutique brands out there. But, I’d recommend trying one out to see if you like the neck size first.