Godin has a long reputation for thinkingoutside the box, and the company’s Multiac range in particular has won many fans for its off-piste approach to solving specific sonic conundrums. In the case of the Multiac Steel Duet Ambiance, the aim is to achieve bold, rich amplified steel-string acoustic guitar tone in a more comfortable, playable, and feedback-resistant package. The novel elements that pave the road there include a thin chambered body routed from solid mahogany with a solid spruce top, a deep single cutaway for easy upperfret access, a bolt-on mahogany neck, and a Fishman electronics package with slider controls. Traditional ingredients include a standard ebony pin bridge with compensated one-piece Tusq saddle, a nifty herringbone inlay that dresses up the bound body top, and a slotted headstock with open-gear tuners. Found on all Multiac series models, the longer headstock also allows for greater string tension, which, combined with a longer scale, is a good thing for altered and dropped tunings. The entire package looks great in a high-gloss vintage sunburst finish (trans red is also available), although the paint is too opaque to allow much of a glimpse of the spruce’s grain.
In hand, the Multiac Steel Duet does feel more acoustic than electric, but the playability is extremely smooth, and there’s easier access to the upper frets than even most cutaway acoustics will afford. The only niggle involves some sharp fret ends, although our current dry weather here in the Northeast will have exacerbated that. A quick play unplugged reveals, though, that this is not your grandpa’s flat-top; the unamplified acoustic tone sports some muffled woody warmth from the body top and bridge region, couched in a slightly nasal honk emanating through the small soundhole vents around the controls. But the entire point of the Multiac Steel is to plug in, and everything is designed to maximize the guitar’s performance in an amplified application.
This holds especially true when playing in a loud live setting, where any traditional acoustic guitar would feed back in the presence of bass and drums. Artists such as Roger Waters (and his guitarists on the Wall Tour, Dave Kilminster and G.E. Smith), Steve Stevens, Joseph Arthur, and Rik Emmett hold the Multiac series guitars in high regards because of this fact. Note, though, that despite the “feedback- free at high volumes” claim, you can certainly get it to howl with some reckless positioning in front of your amp.
The Fishman system includes a useful bundle of controls (see specs), though no onboard tuner, but the real keys to its sonic versatility lie within. In addition to the under-saddle piezo pickup, there’s an internal mic that, combined with four sound-imaging settings, provides an impressively wide offering of voices from a relatively simple array.
Tested through an RME Audio Fireface recording interface, an SWR acoustic amp, and even a traditional tube guitar amp, the Multiac Steel sounded resolutely “acoustic” at all settings. Even with the blend fully toward the under-saddle pickup, the Multiac offers an excellent rendition of a traditional electro-acoustic. Bring in the mic, though, select your preferred imaging setting for the room or the song, EQ to taste, and you’re way ahead of the game. The Multiac Steel Duet Ambience might not capture the same tonal depths and dimensions as your favorite acoustic flat-top miked up in a recording studio with a fine Neumann U87 or a Schoeps CMC64g (two of the four mic-imaging settings), but for a quick and easy rendition of the full sound of a steel-string acoustic, it’s a raging success.
GODIN MULTIAC STEEL DUET AMBIANCE
PRICE $1,579 street, including gig bag
CONTACT Godin, godinguitars.com
NUT WIDTH 1 11/16"
NECK Mahogany, 25 1/2" scale
FRETBOARD Ebony, 16" radius
FRETS 22 narrow
TUNERS Open-gear with pearloid buttons
BODY Chambered mahogany with solid spruce top
BRIDGE Ebony pin with Tusq saddle
ELECTRONICS Custom Fishman preamp with under-saddle piezo transducer and blendable input from four individual mic-imaging settings (emulating Neumann U87, DPA 4011, Soundelux E47, and Schoeps CMC64g)
CONTROLS Master volume, Treble, Mid, Bass, Blend, Mic Imaging, Phase
FACTORY STRINGS Godin High Definition Phosphor Bronze, .010-.047
WEIGHT 7.4 lbs
KUDOS An easy road to amplified acoustic sounds, with a versatile sonic range and good playability.
CONCERNS Some might miss an onboard tuner.