Godin 5th Avenue Uptown GT

February 14, 2012

For decades, Canada’s Godin Guitar Company has been producing excellently constructed, extremely playable acoustics and electrics that deliver pro level sound and playability. A few years ago Godin introduced an archtop line—the 5th Avenue Series of cutaway, non-cutaway, all-acoustic, and pickup-outfitted models. The newest addition is the Uptown GT, which begins where Godin’s Kingpin model leaves off, as a two pickup, single cutaway, fully hollow archtop, made of Canadian wild cherry wood. The GT switches out the Kingpin’s P-90s for a pair of Godin humbuckers—a first for the 5th Avenue series. It also loses the wood bridge in favor of an adjustable roller type, and sports a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece. Dot inlays on the ebony fretboard are shifted off center, and the model on review here marks the debut of a subtly flamed, gloss finished maple top option (hence, the “GT” moniker), to go with satin finished back and sides. A solid black GT model is also available ($1,329 street).

Played acoustically, Freddie Green style, the GT offered up classic archtop chunk. Before recording it unplugged, however, I needed to put a strip of masking tape on the strings behind the bridge to mute some sympathetic ringing. This wasn’t noticeable, of course, when playing through my Fender Blues Junior and Orange Tiny Terror amps, where the Uptown GT revealed a warm, woody, and balanced sound. With the Tone control full up, the neck-pickup setting was reminiscent of Grant Green’s soul-jazz bark, while adding some reverb and tremolo took things straight to swampy blues land. I could roll the Tone knob back on the neck pickup for a more traditional jazz sound, but the bridge pickup and Bigsby really do beg for edgier stuff. Turned up to rockabilly level, the GT sounded gutsy, with a great blend of fullness and twangy bite. There’s the typical archtop feedback to contend with when you’re really cranking, but at moderate volumes the GT sounded quite at home, delivering excellent-sounding distortion tones when driving a Keeley Luna Overdrive through either of my test amps.

The comfortable neck shape and firstrate fretwork afforded the classic playability that has become Godin’s trademark, despite the manly factory .012 strings. (Godin tells us they are now installing .011-.049 gauge strings on this model.) Also, thanks to a well-cut nut and a body arc that provides proper bridge tension without a string bar, the Bigsby stayed in excellent tune.

When it comes to traveling, the relatively light weight of an archtop guitar is often offset by the heavy hard case required to protect the body. Thus, it is worth noting that the included Godin TRIC case (TRIC stands for “thermally regulated instrument case”) is made of expanded polypropylene, a shock-absorbent material used in auto bumper cores and bicycle helmets. The case weighs in at less than four pounds (as light as a gig bag), features D-rings for a shoulder strap, and is temperature tested from –58 to +300 degrees.

The Uptown GT may be more expensive than similar offshore-made models on the market, but it offers the build and sound quality of some significantly pricier guitars, and it’s made on the North American continent to boot. For those seeking a versatile archtop that’s suitable for jazz, rock, country, blues, and pop, the Godin 5th Avenue Uptown GT is definitely a guitar you’ll want to try out.


CONTACT Godin Guitars, godinguitars.com

5th Avenue Uptown GT

PRICE $1,695 retail/$1,395 street
NECK Silver leaf maple, set
FRETBOARD Ebony with offset dot inlay
SCALE 24.84"
BODY Canadian wild cherry or flame maple top with Canadian wild cherry core (on flame model). Canadian wild cherry back and sides.
PICKUPS Custom Godin humbuckers.
CONTROLS Volume, Tone, 3-way selector
BRIDGE Adjustable roller-saddle bridge with Graph Tech Tusq base
TUNERS High-ratio, Kluson-style
BUILT Canada
FACTORY STRINGS Godin High-Definition E-12 Jazz Light, .012-.052
KUDOS A versatile and reasonably priced archtop.

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