25TH ANNIVERSARY CW FLAME MAPLE EQ
The abundance of eye-catching maple makes the CW a handsome specimen. Looking things over, we find the fretwork to be high quality, and the overall workmanship solid. The binding is clean, the finish has a nice polish, and the edges of the TUSC nut have been smoothed to keep it from nicking your fingers. The small headstock sports an overlay of flamed maple, which grooves nicely with the cream-colored binding and gold tuners. A peek inside the soundhole reveals excess glue in a few places, but, other than that, the internal rigging looks good. A small rattle could be heard initially on our review instrument when the low strings were plucked, but it disappeared after some playing, and it could have just been a wire vibrating against something inside.
Though some may not like being able to feel the grain in the lightly finished mahogany neck, it has a comfortable, easy playing feel, excellent upper fret access (thanks to the cutaway,) and the intonation is such that chords sound tuneful anywhere you grab them. Played acoustically, the CW sounds crisp and balanced with a taut low-end response and good upper midrange complexity. The dreadnought-sized body puts out plenty of sound for jamming or non-amplified rehearsals, and the guitar is good to go if you need to amplify. When plugged into a couple of different acoustic amps (a Genz-Benz Shenandoah Acoustic Pro and an L.R. Baggs Acoustic Reference) we only needed to cut the mids back to mitigate some of the honkiness and get a sound that was close to what the CW delivers au natural. With only two bands of EQ, that part of the tone shaping had to be done using the amps’ controls. But with a little time spent dialing things in, the CW’s sound opened up and the guitar was fun to play to the limits of its feedback threshold. There’s no phase switch to assist in feedback control, but, by keeping the lows in check with the Bass control, you can easily get enough volume to cut a band gig with this guitar (this model is now equipped with the Godin EPM Quantum Q1T system, which has a tuner, a more expansive EQ, and external battery access). All in all, the CW is a happening guitar for a great price—especially considering that it’s made on the North American continent .
25TH ANNIVERSARY MAHOGANY SPRUCE
While its name isn’t the most imaginative, it pretty much sums up what you get here. The Mahogany Spruce does not have a pickup or a cutaway, so it’s a more traditional guitar than the CW, but what it does offer is a warm, refined sound that benefits from the use of solid woods for the back and sides. This also suggests that the MS will improve with age, which is typically not the case with a guitar made from laminated woods. The build quality is similar to the CW’s, and all the constructional points mentioned above apply here, although the MS’s interior is spotless and the headstock has a veneer of rosewood instead of maple. The MS is also a shade lighter than the CW, which is interesting, since its body is technically larger due to the absence of a cutaway.
The neck on the MS feels exactly like the CW’s, which could be great or less great depending on how you feel about necks with such an open grain. Nevertheless, the playability is excellent thanks to the low, buzz-free action and smooth frets. This guitar intonates well too, which enhances its focus and sense of tonal togetherness. The MS sounds like it would cost more than $595—it’s well balanced, its highs have a crisp sheen, and the mids are detailed and present without being honky. The MS would be a great choice for recording with a mic, and though you’ll need to install a pickup if you want to amplify it or run it direct, this model would be my pick from a purely tonal standpoint. A guitar that performs well, is priced very reasonably, and is made completely of solid woods—the 25th Anniversary Mahogany Spruce is a mighty tempting deal if you’re value shopping for a new flat-top.