THE EMPIRE IS THE LATEST ENTRY IN THE RETRO-LOOK
lineup from the newest realm of the Kindgom of Godin—the
two-years-young Richmond Guitars. Its single-cutaway body
with contoured edge presents a take-away impression that one
can’t help comparing with PRS’s pricier Mira model, or you could
call it “an SG minus one horn.” Either way, hardware and appointments
are appealingly simple: a wraptail bridge with compensated
saddle stays solidly ’60s, while Kluson-style tuners and a pickupsuspending
pickguard complete the vibe. Its bolt-on neck takes
us on a swift departure, though, as does the low-noise Rick-cum-
DeArmond-looking single-coil pickup in the neck position
(7.42kΩ). Its partner is a more traditional medium-wind Godin
humbucker that reads a chunky 9.92kΩ.
The Empire’s slender 1.5"-thick body is constructed with a
silverleaf maple core and poplar wings, resulting in a modest
overall weight, and its two-piece mahogany neck (with scarfjointed,
back-angled headstock) wears a thin satin finish that feels extremely tactile in the hand. I find its
rounded C profile with the slightest hint of
V’ing toward the center of the neck back
extremely inviting, and overall it’s an easy
and effortless guitar to play.
Plugged into a Dr. Z Z-28 combo, the
Empire’s no-nonsense simplicity and
straight-ahead tones prove instantly appealing.
Its bridge-position humbucker does a
little of everything you might turn an SG
to, while still offering plenty of poppier
chime and shimmer when required, and no
end of meaty grind through a Barber LTD
The real sweetheart here, for my money
at least, is the neck pickup—a blend between
a Rick toaster-top and a P-90, tonally, that’s
capable of coaxing anything from throaty
blues to jazz to biting R&B. Selected together,
these pickups provide a round, snappy, yet
plummy voice that also offers plenty of
possibilities. It all adds up to making the
Empire a hip little number that’s a tasty
performer for the money.
CONTACT Richmond Guitars; richmondguitars.com
PRICE $499 street
NECK Mahogany, two-piece bolt-on
FRETS 22 medium
TUNERS Kluson-style vintage tuners
BODY Silverleaf maple core with poplar wings
BRIDGE Godin wraparound bridge
PICKUPS One low-noise Godin single coil, one mediumoutput
CONTROLS Single Volume and Tone, 3-way selector
FACTORY STRINGS Godin High Definition, .010-.046
WEIGHT 7.6 lbs
KUDOS An appealing simplicity of style and function.
Good quality for the price.
CONCERNS Some slightly rough fret ends (likely caused by climatic changes due to the
extensive travel this review model was subjected to).