Two Months With My Godin A4 Ultra Natural Semi-Acoustic Bass – How Much Do I Love It?
I absolutely LOVE this bass. It’s not perfect, and I’ll get into that, but it’s one of those instruments that I will never part with. How’s that for a statement of love?
OK, the first the most obvious negative: the guitar has terrific electronics with L.R. Baggs Piezo and a very sleek, low profile Lace pickup – that doesn’t sound like a negative yet – it also has some neat EQ controls on the upper bout of the soundboard, but there a bit difficult to figure out exactly how to use them. So you have to refer to the owner’s manual. This wouldn’t be a real problem if there was an owner’s manual, but there doesn’t seem to be one.
If you go to Godin’s web site (www.godinguitars.com) you’ll see a very impressive web site featuring the different instrument and amp brands in the Godin family, and you can download owner’s manuals. The manuals that exist that is. As I reviewed the list of downloadable manuals, the A4 / A5 weren’t there. Being a fan of Godin and Seagull Guitars, I noticed a number of models didn’t have owner’s manuals. They make great guitars, you’d think they could produce a mediocre manual.
Is that all for the negatives? Well, no. I’m not sure if this is a negative or just a fact to be aware of with this bass. It’s quite heavy. As heavy as a a maple solid body and that’s not what you’d expect with an acoustic or semi-acoustic bass. The back and sides are chambered, silver leaf maple and so if you expect a light ride for your shoulder, this isn’t the guitar for you. If the normal weight of a bass isn’t an issue, this won’t be a problem for you.
One more cautionary note: strap locks are a much for this bass. I’m not sure if it’s the strap buttons, or the distribution of the weight, but this bass just shed straps and strap locks will cure that. I use a simple cam strap lock available at Stewart MacDonald (www.stewmac.com) whichis a great resource for all sorts of part, tools and supplies. These cam locks are inexpensive, pop on neatly and off neatly and require absolutely no installation or modification of the guitar. Dunlop has a great strap lock system too available everywhere.
Now for the many positive things about this beautiful instrument. Well, it’s beautiful. The top wood is either solid cedar or solid spruce (depending on the model, mine is solid spruce), the neck is maple, the fingerboard is ebony on the fretless (which is what I have) and rosewood on the fretted model. The look is understated, classic and very distinctive.
The playability is nothing shy of magnificent. On the fretless model, the flatwound stings give this bass guitar a sound that is so similar to the upright bass. The instrument is very well balanced. The neck is a slim 1.5” at the neck and the fingerboard radius of 16” is a bit flatter than I’m used to, but very easy to work with. Your hands will love this bass.
The sound is amazing. Mine has an L.R. Baggs transducer and as I’m a fan of Godin, I’m also a big fan of L.R. Baggs – who by the way has great customer service if you need help with any L.R. Baggs product, you get to actually speak to a knowledgeable human. It picks up the acoustics flawlessly. My A4 also has the Lace low profile pickup which adds great depth and punch when needed.
With the flatwound strings, no frets and a great, slim neck, I move up and down with ease, get a great “thumpy” string bass sound and slide to get a sound like a trombone – fun and cool. I usually play this bass through my Yamaha EMX512SC mixer with nothing but excellent results. Whe I use an amp, I think I get the best results with a Genz Benz Shenendoah Jr. even though it’s an acoustic amp, it’s very versatile and the A4 plays great through that. There are separate ¼” inputs for a mixer and an amp on the A4 and that specialization seems to make a big difference. There also a 13 pin port so you can play through a synthesizer. I haven’t tried that yet and based on my history with high tech, I’ll hand it over to one of my technologically inclined friends for that. But it’s there and it can give you an incredible range of tonal possibilities.
Among the issues of sound, is a sound that this bass never makes: feedback. This is amazing to me. Having played acoustic basses, the big hollow bodies are a breeding ground for feedback. I’ve never had any feedback, not when playing right next to my amp, pointing the guitar toward a speaker or on a loud stage. Feedback is simply not a problem with the Godin A4.
The base model Godn A4 starts at around $1,170 anwhere with the 5 string version being about $50 more. It does up the Ultra, which sells everywhere for $1,245. If you’re in the market to buy one, I suggest you contact Musicians Buy (www.musiciansbuy.com) , call Bob and get a quote from him. I’ve dealt with Bob, he’s knows what he’s talking about, he’s honest in his dealings and he’ll get you a great price. They aren’t affiliates on this site, I get no fee from them, but it’s the truth. Musicians Buy doesn’t have every brand, in fact they’re a bit limited for an online retailer, but they have great brands at great prices and they’ll get it if they don’t have it in stock.
The last time I checked Musicians Buy did have a fretted A4 (basic model) on a closeout for an incredible $688. I haven’t seen any price close to that on a new A4.
If you’re looking for an acoustic bass, don’t overlook this unique instrument. And after you try it, let me know what you think about it.
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. Dave