Part of the Godin Signature series of guitars, the Montreal is named after the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal that takes place in the city every summer. Not that the Montreal is primarily a jazz instrument; in fact it’s a two-voice guitar, combining traditional magnetic pick-ups with saddle transducers in the bridge to offer both electric and acoustic sounds.
Unusually – and probably very expensively – the back and sides of the Montreal are carved from a solid piece of mahogany and the centre-block has been left to mount both bridge and pick-ups, a design feature which is well known to reduce feedback, similar to a Gibson ES-335. The bound top is also mahogany – which is at least 4mm thick, giving the Montreal a very solid feel – and is adorned each side with a traditional F-hole. The entire body is finished in a natural high gloss.
Playing comfort is taken into consideration by the well rounded edges and chamfers on the back of the guitar and the cutaway is generous enough to reach the top frets without discomfort. Mahogany is also the choice of timber for the satin-finished, bolt-on, 22-fret, 24 ¾ scale neck – which for such a solid and professional standard guitar seems rather slim and narrow – but Godin claim it’s shaped for ‘exceptional comfort’ by means of their ergocut technique.
All hardware is gold, but tastefully toned down to a more ‘antique’ gold colour. For tuning stability there’s an expensive looking set of locking machine heads with black buttons and the instrument has been set up very nicely with a medium action and correct intonation. Strings are through-body design. The Montreal is loaded with two Godin humbuckers and a recessed bridge equipped with L.R.Baggs transducer saddles with its own on-board pre-amp EQ. Unusually, the humbuckers have been given a five-way switch – which offers a coil-tap option for each pick-up – while the transducers have a separate slider controls on the upper bout, offering volume and three-band EQ. There are two outputs – Electric and Acoustic/Mix – on a flat plate on the lower underside. This slightly squared off section spoils the luscious curve of the rather pleasing body shape but there’s probably a good reason for it. The two outputs are set up so that the electric and acoustic voices can be used independently or blended. The three controls knobs are for volume, tone and blend.
Acoustically, the Montreal has an enhanced natural resonance due to the exceptional piece of timber and its unique construction. The chambers also add to the acoustic sound from the transducer, which has plenty of zing and is a highly usable feature of the Montreal. Clean, the humbuckers have all the depth and complexity of tone that would elevate this guitar into a top jazz instrument – and in comparison, the guitar is slightly louder and denser than a ES-335. When we finally get to hear the humbuckers through an overdrive channel – our test amp was a Mesa Boogie Transatlantic – the Montreal transforms itself from mellow to something rather more charged – while still retaining the guitar’s naturally cultured heritage. Blended, the available tones from the combination of humbucker and transducer are endless, allowing a wealth of interesting and unusual sounds.
The Godin Montreal is a chunk of pure class from the Canadian manufacturers, and has enough sounds available to cover any blues, acoustic or jazz gig. If you’re at the festival in Montreal this summer, don’t be too surprised if you happen to see a few.