By Art Thompson
Godin’s “short” 24 3/4"-scale guitars, such as the Flat Five, Flat Five X, LG, and Radiator are noted for their fast-playing 24-fret necks—a design detail that provides more frets clear of the body, but also places the front pickup outside the sweet zone of the 24th-fret harmonic. As this configuration can negatively affect the quality of tones delivered by the neck pickup, a number of players have expressed a desire for a 22-fret model from Godin, which has now been realized with the introduction of the new Exit 22 ($495 retail; deluxe gig bag included). I tested both the maple- and rosewood-fretboard versions through a variety of amps, including Ibanez Tone Blaster and Randall RM-100 half stacks, a Bad Cat Hot Cat 15, and a Fender reissue 4x10 Bassman.
The Exit shows impeccable workmanship throughout. Its satin-finished 24 3/4"-scale bolt-on neck fits so precisely into the body, that I wasn’t able to slip a business card between the maple and mahogany. The lightly polished jumbo frets are tightly seated and uniformly crowned. Their ends are also trimmed and smoothed so that there are no sharp edges to contend with as you slide you hand along the rosewood board. Smooth turning, die-cast tuners with satin nickel buttons are fitted to the gloss-finished headstock, and a pair of string trees guide the four top strings to their respective shafts. The small bone nut is carefully shaped and inset into the neck so that you can barely feel its ends.
Playability & Vibe
If you dig the look of raw woods, the Exit 22 is right up your alley. The bold grain of the mahogany and birds-eye figuring on the back of the neck are visually enticing, and the finish is sparingly applied to both preserve the au natural appearance and enhance resonance. The Exit’s back is contoured to fit snugly against your body, and the area around the neck joint is ergonomically sculpted to improve access to the high frets. To better accommodate your right hand, the Godin-designed six-saddle bridge features smoothly rounded edges on its heavy, cast-metal base. The only things that made it a less-than-perfect place to plant my palm were the protruding height-adjustment screws on the outside E-string saddles. The strings load from the back with their ball-ends anchored in a thick brass plate.
The Exit 22 balances perfectly when strapped on, and, at 7.6 lbs, it’s a guitar you can wear for three sets without puttin’ the hurt on your shoulder. Like a well-designed tool, the Exit does its job in a purposeful, no-jive manner. It plays like a mofo thanks to its low, wide frets and light-gauge strings, and you could probably slap a set of .011s on this thing and it would still play beautifully.
The Exit also sounds completely together. The bridge humbucker dishes out searing, well-defined tones through high-gain amps, and it sounds fat and ballsy when pushing blusier levels of gain. The single-coil selections are remarkably clear and strong, and they’re amazingly quiet too. A particularly neat thing about this guitar is that there’s no apparent loss of bottom when switching from humbucker to single-coils.
The Exit has plenty of snap in position 5 (bridge humbucker) for country licks, while position 4 (middle and bridge pickups) yields some of the clucky color you associate with the same setting on a Fender Strat. The middle pickup has an open, muscular presence that works great for retro blues, while the neck pickup sounds throaty and badass when pushed with a little gain. Flick to position 2 (neck and middle pickups) and you get clanky upper harmonics and a more bell-like tonality. I found myself veering toward the slightly mellower sounding rosewood-fretboard Exit 22, although when driving the Bassman with a stand-alone reverb in line, the maple-fretboard version’s explosive brilliance was mighty compelling.
The mojo’s workin’ in the Exit 22, which is a surprisingly versatile guitar with enough tonal goodies to satisfy hard rockers and blues heads alike. Factor in the incredible price, and this Canadian-made ax is a very attractive choice for working players who need a pro-quality instrument for gigs and recording. The lack of a trem option might be a deal-breaker for some, but Godin seems to be going for rock-solid tonal authority with the Exit 22, and, with its smart blend of features, this guitar is certainly a well-armed gladiator in the mid-priced solidbody arena. Thumbs-up to Godin—the Exit 22 easily earns an Editors’ Pick Award.