Most guitar companies take a degree of inspiration from one of the big ones – y’know, the ones that were right there around the beginning of solidbody electric guitar design. This helps the newer companies find somewhere to start from, and provides players with an easy point of reference from which to base their search for their Next Great Guitar. Godin has refined its designs to the point that even if you can tell from a glance that a particular instrument has started with the inspiration of one classic axe or another, there’s something unmistakably Godin about it. Case in point: the Session. From photos it may look rather Stratocaster-inspired, but as soon as you pick it up, you can tell that it’s got its own thang going on.
The Session features a heavy Canadian Laurentian basswood body in a series of solid and transparent finishes (see them here), including ‘Raw SG,’ the finish of the review model. Some of the finishes are satin gloss, and others are high gloss, and you have your choice of maple or rosewood fretboard for any model. If only more guitar companies would offer this option as standard. Basswood, a very even-toned timber, isn’t typically chosen for transparent finishes since it tends to be rather plain visually, but the particular strain used here has just enough of a grain to be visually interesting.
The neck is a solid chunk of rock maple with a flattish 12″ fretboard radius, ideal for comfortable chording as well as frenzied soloing. Smaller radii such as 9.5″ and especially 7.25″ bring with them a certain risk of notes fretting out when you bend them, while others such as a shred-happy 17″ are great for wailing but less comfortable for wide chord voicings. Godin has nailed the perfect neck shape, thickness and radius to appeal to players of every stripe: just enough of a curve for chorders, and flat enough for fret-burners. It’s a pleasure to play, and it’s even kinda fun to just look at.
Electronics include two Godin GS-1 single coils and a covered Godin humbucker, while controls comprise a 5-way switch, a master volume, and a master tone control which splits the humbucker pickup. Some such designs automatically split the humbucker when combined with the middle pickup, but the Session keeps the unit in humbucker mode until you manually activate the switch, giving you seven tone options instead of an already-impressive six.
The Session’s tones are tough and punchy with loads of bass, befitting such a heavy and solid guitar. There’s plenty of high-end bite no matter which pickup setting you select, and the humbucker has a raw, focused tone which records especially well and bristles with upper-midrange harmonics. It screams ‘hard rock.’ In single coil mode the bridge pickup is especially tough, bringing out the best of the maple fretboard and sturdy 25 1/2″ scale length. Country and blues players will love this. The neck pickup has a satisfying quack and cluck when you dig in with the pick, but it cools down perfectly when you soften your attack. Again, it’s unmistakably bluesy. The middle pickup doesn’t quite have as much character as the other two but it’s great for chord work and legato melodies.
In my experience working at music stores, players often walk in expecting to buy another brand, but walk out with a Godin, having been seduced by the build quality, playability and no-nonsense tone. They’re great, versatile instruments and the Session is no exception. It may not be for metalheads (who will therefore appreciate the EMG-loaded Redline series) but for those who need a wide variety of clean and dirty sounds in an eminently playable package that also looks pretty cool, the Session is a winner.