Test & Review Of The Godin A4 Semi-Acoustic Fretless Bass
There are a few brands of guitars and basses that I seem to love to play. Some are obvious choices like Gibson, Fender, Music Man, Guild, Taylor, Paul Reed Smith and Martin, and some are the “other” brands out there who make exceptional instruments that are relatively lower cost and I think very high value. I think Schecter, Babicz, Lakland Basses, G & L (and the tribute line), Laravee and Ovation. I have a particular warm spot for Godin guitars and basses.
I own a Godin Exit 22, it’s one of their lowest priced electric guitar offerings and I love it. It’s probably my least expensive electric and it’s also the one I reach for when I want to play. The test drive today is my first test of a Godin bass and I highly anticipated the event.
The Godin A4 and it’s five string twin, the A5 are visually straightforward and beautiful. They only come in natural, semi-gloss finish with a solid cedar top (some models use solid spruce), a two chamber silver leaf maple body and on fretted models the fingerboard is rosewood, on the fretless models, it’s ebony. The bass comes with a 13 pin “synth access” or you can use a conventional ¼” cable into an amp. I went with cable to amp, in this case a used Fender Bassman 25 watt amp. It has an L.R. Baggs ribbon transducer and that was points in its favor right away: I really like what L.R. Baggs does for acoustic sound.
The feel of the bass is impressive too. The neck is slender, 1 ½” at the nut and nicely formed for excellent feel. It feels very much like jazz bass. The fingerboard radius of 16” is a bit flatter than what I’m used to but not a problem and easy to adjust to. The body itself is only slightly larger than a solid body bass as opposed to other acoustic basses that I’ve played with jumbo, deep bodies. It’s light and easy on the shoulder and I wouldn’t describe the body as a perfect fit against my body, but a very good fit.
Playing it was incredible. This guitar gives the best “thumpy” upright bass sound I’ve ever heard from a bass guitar. For that matter it probably out thumpied most upright basses I’ve heard. Fretless basses do have a more muffled sound and it makes sense. With a fretted bass, you hold down the string against a hard fret and the string vibrates between a hard string and a hard fret. With a fretless bass, oyu’re holding the string down on the fingerboard with your finger so it’s the hard bridge and your soft finger, it’s somewhat muffled by the soft finger.
The sound this bass produces is incredible. When an acoustic-electric guitar or bass produce a great sound, it’s a combination of all factors including construction materials, design, strings, electronics and of course, the amp. This was a great combination and the L.R. Baggs electronics are superb at faithfully reproducing sound. With a synth, you have a world of opportunity to create new tones, but I really liked what I heard just as a guitar through an amp.
I didn’t know if I’d like the EQ controls on the upper bout of the soundboard, but it turns out I did like them there. Instead of dials or knobs, there are sliders and it’s very easy to reach, adjust and see your levels. The volume knob(s) are on the side, also easy to access and nicely recessed.
Two issues that need to be addressed. The first is, most music stores don’t stock acoustic basses, especialy higher priced models. They aren’t huge sellers and dealers can’t afford to stock inventory that won’t move. So trying one before you decide to buy it may be a problem. If you order online, check the return policy; most online stores give you at least thirty, and some as much as sixty days to consider your purchase or return it for a full refund. If you want to try one first, and that’s not a bad idea, you may need to find a store in a major city. If you know of a store that stocks a healthy selection of acoustic basses, please let us know by sending me an email or reply on this blog.
Another issue that I couldn’t address in the store is feedback. Acoustic-electric basses are notorious for giving nasty feedback. It makes sense too, especially wen on stage. Most acoustic basses are jumbo bodies where the sound reenters through the soundhole and resonate and then echoes in the body and is picked up by the transducer. A selling point of the Godin A4 dramatically reduces feedback.
The design tends to support the claim of reduced feedback. The body is shallow, there isn’t a large soundhole but rather a sound “slot.” It certainly didn’t get uppity when I stood near the amp and put the bas in that direction. I’ll try it out in a few different spots and update you on how it performs in a practice and session and while on stage.
How can I possibly do that from a bass I’m trying out in a store? I was very impressed with this instrument and I bought it….at a discount of course.
Update: Please read my 2 month later review on the Godin A4 semi-acoustic bass – go to Blog and then Prof. Dave’s Guitar Buying Advice. One item right away: USE STRAP LOCKS WITH THIS INSTRUMENT – IT SHEADS STRAPS!
This blog is Prof Dave’s Guitar and Bass Buying Advice. If you have a guitar or bass and you’d like to post an opinion, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org – if you disagree with my opinion or have an opinion or review on an instrument I haven’t reviewed, as long as it isn’t too foul (language that is) I’ll post it. I’d love to hear from all you guitar & bass heads. Prof. Dav