Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Godin Redline 1 Graphite

Bought this one two years ago. It's the first of Redline series, kind of experimental model that was discontinued. The difference between Graphite and other Redline 1 models is the number of frets. Graphite has 22 frets and the current Redline 1 models have 24.

Redline is Godin's vision of a heavy metal guitar. It has only a bridge pickup (EMG81), volume control and a fixed bridge with strings through the body. The neck is made of rock maple and it's one of the few 24,75" scale necks with stratocaster body shape among modern guitars. The body has silverleaf maple center with poplar wings, so it's made from three pieces which I guess reduces the price of the guitar, because it's cheaper to make a guitar from smaller pieces of wood.

The fixed bridge is very nice. It has rounded edges and the height adjustment screws don't stick out from the saddle pieces. The saddles are bit weird when you loosen them to adjust the intonation. They don't move smoothly, but can stick in one place and then jump in sudden motion. They however stay in place so it doesn't really matter.

The neck is firmly attached to a tight neck pocket with big screws. The guitar feels like it was made from one piece of wood.

The back of the guitar is contoured while the top is flat. Both horns are also contoured, so they are very narrow and small compared to standard stratocasters.

For some reason the strap button is loose. It's just turning around in the screw hole. Also the plug plate suffers from the same problem, but they both seem to stay on the guitar and haven't fell off. I think the screw holes were too big for the screws. I could probably stuff wood chips in the holes, but since the horn is very narrow I'm afraid that it could crack if I try to force a screw in a tighter hole.

Strap buttons are "straight" locking model, but there is no locking parts with them so you have to get Schaller strap locks or similar if you want to keep the strap in the button.

Tuning machines are Godin's own model and they are not that great. However the tusq nut is nice and requires no tweaking. The tuning stability is good.

The Godin logo is printed on in this model, so you can scrape it off easily! I tried it on G of Godin as you can see.

The neck is incredible. Rock maple is solid as.. rock. It has a satin finish which has changed to smooth, almost like lacquered surface after two years of playing. The fingerboard edges are rounded with Godin's ergocut technique. The rounding continues to fret ends which makes the whole thing extremely smooth. The frets don't stick out and they haven't started to do that, not even in the dry winter time. This kind of fretboard finish makes you think why it's not a standard in all guitars.

The acoustic sound of Redline is kind of neutral. It doesn't have any special character, but it's not blunt either. There is a nice amount of sustain and the sound could be described sophisticated.

The best thing about this guitar is that it feels like an instrument and not like a product which is just quickly manufactured. The quality control of Godin is superb. They have a number of people inspect each part of the guitar and even cheap models like this one are made in USA. I really like that kind of attitude, because Godin gives an impression that they take guitar manufacturing seriously.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Wilkinson WVCSB

I got a Wilkinson WVCSB to replace the original tremolo of my Grassroots G-SE-48SC. The problem with Grassroots was that they installed a wrong kind of tremolo in the factory and they even tried to compensate that with a nut that had very narrow string spacing. I replaced that with a "standard" nut that has 35mm string spacing (in 42mm nut). After that both E-strings went easily off the fretboard because of wide 56mm string spacing that was too wide for the narrow neck of Grassroots.

There are narrow tremolos, but most of them have same width for mounting screw holes than the string spacing, so you can't install it in 56mm spaced tremolo without filling the holes and drilling new ones. But there are special models and WVCSB is one of them. It has 56mm mounting holes but 54mm string spacing.

WVCSB has odd alignment for string holes. They are not in straight line, but "intonation corrected" or something like that.

This is the only problem I had with installing. The pickguard was too tight for WVCSB, even the outside dimension was only about 1mm wider than the original 73mm. The picture also shows that the front side was too tight (noticed that after cutting off the sides).

I used a red marker to show where to cut off. I didn't remove the pickguard completely, so I had to work with wires attached. It went quite fine, I didn't scratch anything or cut off any wires.

I used a sharp knife to cut off the pickguard, but it's a method I don't encourage to use. The knife easily slips and it will do that so you need to be careful where it will go after that. Here is the result after filing and sanding.

It's obvious that 54mm is the proper string spacing for this guitar. The pole piece alignment is now exact and the outer strings have exactly the same distance from the edge of fretboard as in the nut.

I'm using only two tremolo springs with 10-46 strings, so the tremolo has quite an angle. This will improve the tuning stability of vintage style tremolos.

It took about hour or two (including breaks) to install the tremolo because the pickguard issue, but it was worth it. WVCSB has a nice quality at decent cost and it even has a pop-in tremolo arm with adjustable stiffness. It's surely an improvement to old school screw-in tremolo arm.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Dean ML Bubinga

Exotic wood ML model. It has small dents under the painting in headstock, but it's Korean made so it's a minor flaw. Frets are ok, no buzz or anything. I actually own another ML similar to this (Blueburst), but ML really fits for me so I had to get this. And it was cheap, only 400€ new.

I think the nut is not perfect, because the way strings bend as they go through the nut requires perfectly set up nut. This one seems to be cheap black plastic. Maybe it's that, but the sound is kind of muffled and muddy. Blueburst has better nut, so I probably have to do something about that.

I like the stock pickups, they look like PAFs or something. They have a nice sharp sound and I guess moderate amount of output. The only problem is that either pickups and/or cavity shielding is poor and the guitar makes a lot of noise in high gain, but then again, even the shape of this guitar is "heavy" it's in many ways a traditional guitar, more suitable for other than rock music. It's kind of hilarious, but why not?

The neck was a bit of surprise, because the top part is clearly V-shaped, then gradually changes to C-shape. It's also quite thick neck, about 22mm in first fret.

This model is also heavily neck weight and dives without leather strap, or something that stops the movement. I like the way you can anchor the bottom wing on your leg and stop the diving. Still, ML model isn't really an ergonomic shape. I just personally like the rising V shape that has minimum contact with wrist and you can play with wrist close to your body.