Godin Solidac

If you play guitar in a praise and worship band or any musical group for that matter, the Godin Solidac is an electric guitar you may want to consider finding on the used market (Godin no longer manufactures this model). I bought this guitar after playing in a praise band for a bit. I thought it would be cool to have acoustic and electric guitar sounds at my disposal. The Godin Solidac is a dual voice guitar with HSH (humbucker, single coil, humbucker) magnetic pickups mounted to the pickguard and a piezo pickup in each bridge saddle.

Here are the latest specs for the Godin Solidac from Godin’s web site.

• Mahogany Neck
• Rosewood Fingerboard
• 16″ Fingerboard Radius
• 25 1/2″ Scale
• 1 11/16″ Nut Width
• Silver Leaf Maple body
• Godin-Design Pickups
• LR Baggs X-Bridge
• 5-Way Pickup Selector Switch
• Volume – Electric
• Volume – Acoustic
• Tone – Electric
• Magnetic Output
• Acoustic/Mix Output
• Colors: Lightburst Quilted Leaf Top, Transparent Blue Flame Leaf Top

The Godin web site omits these important features…

• Locking Tuners
• Tremolo/Vibrato bridge

Below is Godin’s description/marketing copy of the Solidac guitar from their website.

The Solidac is the latest Godin model to offer the two-voice concept. It combines the sound of magnetic pickups (electric guitar) with a bridge transducer system for acoustic sounds. This guitar offers players the versatility of a humbucker-single-humbucker pickup configuration along with a transducer-equipped tremolo bridge. All of this sonic power comes in an instrument that sports the same ultra comfortable Mahogany neck found on the LGX with a Silver Leaf Maple body. Individual outputs are provided for the magnetics and the bridge, with the bridge output doubling as a mix out for both signals when used alone. There is an internal preamp voiced to provide excellent acoustic sound when used with any full range system and it produces very good acoustic tone even when plugged into a regular guitar amp. The Solidac represents an opportunity for players on a tighter budget to consider a two-voice concept guitar that retains all of the hand-finished quality that is a standard feature in every Godin instrument.

I agree with most of what is said there. The built-in preamp for the acoustic bridge piezo output on the whole did not cut it for me, the main reason for this is there is not any way for the user to adjust the EQ of the acoustic output on the fly. There was a tinniness to the sound running direct into the PA, and the acoustic sound into a guitar amp was not a convincing simulation in my opinion. Trying to run the magnetic pickups through the mix/acoustic output took a lot of the punch away from the magnetic pickups and flattened the sound in a way I did not like, so I rarely run this guitar in this configuration.

The solution to the built-in preamp problem was purchasing the L.R. Baggs Para Acoustic D.I. I reviewed previously on this site. This allowed me the needed tonal control to get a very nice convincing acoustic guitar sound through the PA. I have received several compliments on the acoustic sound of this guitar using the L.R. Baggs Para Acoustic D.I.

Now here is what is really cool about this guitar, and how I hook it up. As stated in Godin’s web site copy, the Godin Solidac has two outputs. One for the magnetic pickups, and one for the acoustic bridge piezo pickups. Both of these outputs can be used simultaneously. This allows you to get the full power and punch from Godin’s magnetic pickups, which is key (Godin’s magnetic pickups sound quite good). The acoustic bridge pickup sound routed out of the acoustic output allows you to mix the two sounds at the soundboard for a multitude of sounds you just can’t get with a single voice guitar. This is how I route the two signals. The electric guitar magnetic pickups output go from the guitar to my pedalboard to my guitar amp, which is miked into the PA. The acoustic bridge piezo output runs from the guitar to the L.R. Baggs D.I. box direct to the PA through an XLR cable typically. The magnetic pickups have a volume and tone control where the acoustic output has just a volume control on the guitar. The L.R. Baggs D.I. takes care of the tonal adjustments by the player for the acoustic output in this set up. As I mentioned earlier, the array of possible sounds from this guitar is huge with the combination of 3 three magnetic pickups using a Strat style 5 way selector switch. Here are the magnetic pickup combinations: neck humbucker, neck humbucker/middle single coil, middle single coil, middle single coil/bridge humbucker, bridge humbucker. Those combinations alone are powerful! Mix in the acoustic piezo output, and you go to a whole other land of creative tonal options. Your imagination is really the limit here.

The wang bar is acceptable on this guitar for me (I am not a big wang bar guy, so I don’t use it much). The vibrato bar system on my Solidac with the locking tuners is good, but it in no way has the tuning stability of a Floyd Rose type locking nut tremolo/vibrato system. If you are big into using the wang bar for heavy dive bombs and such throughout the night I would say look elsewhere.

The neck on this guitar is a fast playing neck with nice medium sized frets. I use 10 – 46 gauge Fender Super Bullets. I have found that I get the best tone with the Fender Super Bullets on the Solidac.

The Solidac I have is an older model, which was part of a limited run of only 28 guitars that have a Honeyburst Lacewood top instead of their typical cosmetic offerings listed above. My guitar also has a plastic cream colored pickguard where the newer models do not have a pickguard (the magnetic humbuckers are installed using pickup mounting rings, and the single coil pickup is screwed into the body route for the pickup). I’m sure either version would get the job done for you.

I really like my Godin Solidac. I bought it sight unseen direct from Sweetwater in 2002 or early 2003. The great thing about Godin is their quality control is very good. I have not yet tried a Godin guitar that did not sound good. That is saying a lot for a guitar manufacturer. If you have the opportunity to try out a Godin electric guitar in a music store, it is what level of good do you want? Pick the guitar that you like best, and you’ll be good to go. I have purchased three Godin electric guitars so far, and they have all been great sounding guitars. The first Godin guitar I bought I sold, (a Godin LG SP90), and wish to this day that I had not done that!

Keep pickin’!


Behringer Vintage Tube Overdrive VT911 Arrives!

Musician’s Friend was blowing this pedal out about a month ago as one of their Stupid Deals of the Day for $21.99 with free shipping. I couldn’t resist the offer, and figured if it sounded like crap I could mod it or build something different to put inside the box. It appears Behringer built this pedal to be similar to the Chandler/Butler Tube Driver. The box is about the same size as the EHX Big Muff Pi from the 80’s. It is kind of on the large side for an overdrive pedal. It does have a real 12AX7 tube inside.

The pedal arrived two days ago. Yesterday I tested it briefly into my headphone practice amp, and my modified Fender Pro Junior tube amp. The pedal did not sound that good running direct into my headphone amp. Running the VT911 into my Pro Junior tube amp worked quite well as long as I kept the gain/drive low and level up around 8. Turning the drive control up much past 2 just got too fuzzy for me. This pedal is useable as is when used with a tube amp. Swapping the 12AX7 tube for 12AU7 tube would get it much closer to the tone/gain structure of the Chander/Butler Tube Driver pedals I suspect. I may write a more in-depth review of this pedal later. We will have to see on that…

Below are a few YouTube videos I found that will give you a better idea of how the pedals compare.

Keep pickin’!



Gravity Guitar Picks!

The Gravity picks I ordered showed up in the mail yesterday. I ordered the mini size for all of them. I wish I would have ordered one size up for at least one pick for a little bit more to hang on to. I ordered the Tripp model and the Stealth. Chris Fahey Master Picksmith at Gravity sent along an extra pick called the Sunrise Mini 3. The Sunrise totally surprised me. First impression… The Sunrise pick is smokin’ hot for playing rock music. I mean Smokin’ HOT!

I will write in-depth reviews for each pick in the coming weeks after I have some time to get familiar with each one.

Chris Fahey, thanks for sending the free Sunrise pick along with the others. What a pleasant surprise I found in the Sunrise.

Keep pickin’!

2003 Gibson Les Paul Studio

This guitar comes with a story. In the early ’80s I purchased a used 1976 Gibson SG Standard from a friend of a friend for $375.00. This SG was a much better guitar than the crappy imported starter guitars I was trying to play rock music with. The SG was a good guitar, but I had a love hate relationship with it. At the time I couldn’t afford to switch to anything different, so I put my differences aside with the guitar, and got on with making music with the instrument. Flash forward to 2007. I did some research on the internet, and figured out that the 1976 SG collecting dust in the closet was worth about $1,200.00. If it would have been a 1974 model it would have been worth somewhere around $2,000.00. Shoot!

Most of my favorite guitarists I looked up to played Les Paul guitars. Namely the Les Paul Custom. I had previously met the owner of the Music Gallery in Highland Park, IL through a client of mine. The Music Gallery specialized in new and vintage stringed instruments at the time. I always wanted a Les Paul since I was a teenager, but could not afford one. I got the bright idea to take my old Gibson SG to the Music Gallery to see how much they would give me for the guitar. They did a little research on the internet, and quoted me $1,200.00. I told the owner of the store I was interested in a new Les Paul. He showed me his wall of Les Paul guitars, and said I could have any of the Les Paul Studios as an even trade. If I were to throw down an extra grand I could have a Les Paul Standard. At that moment I wished I had an extra thousand dollars, but I didn’t, so I started playing one of the the three Les Paul Studios they had on the rack. I had brought my own amp in to test the guitars. This way I was only evaluating the sound quality from the guitar, and not the amp. After I had tested a couple of the Les Paul Studios the sales person who was helping me suggested I try the white Les Paul Studio that was hanging on the wall. This white Les Paul Studio sounded head and shoulders better than the other two Studios in the store. There is a reason for this. This guitar had a feature the other two didn’t. This guitar had an ebony fretboard (I really like the sound of ebony fingerboards) where the other two had rosewood fingerboards, plus the wood in the white Les Paul Studio just sang better than the other two guitars. This guitar had the sound of a Les Paul Paul Custom without the Les Paul Custom price. I was sold on the guitar. The sales clerk put the guitar into its new hard shell case, and I was on my merry way out the door. I never looked back. To this day I do not regret trading my 1976 SG Standard for this Les Paul Studio.

Here’s a quick rundown of the features of this particular 2003 Les Paul Studio. Mahogany neck and body. Carved maple cap on the body for extra snap. Klusen style tuners on the headstock. The neck profile is the thicker 50’s style neck. Ebony fingerboard with trapezoid position markers. Bone nut. Chrome hardware throughout. Gibson 490R pickup in the neck position and a Gibson 498T pickup in the bridge position. Three position pickup switch, and two volume and two tone speed knob controls to shape your tone. The guitar has an Alpine White paint job to boot.

Out of all of the guitars I own the Les Paul Studio is the guitar I play most often. This Les Paul has the guitar sound I always had in my head. Yeah sure some of my other guitars come close, but when you want that big, fat Les Paul sound the real deal is the way to go. This guitar is definitely the real deal. It has the sound you could easily pay thousands more for, and still be happy as a clam with the price of entry.

It is a good idea when shopping for a specific guitar model to play several of them one after another. You will notice they will all sound different due to the variation in the wood the guitars are built with. Pick the one that sounds the best. If you don’t like any of them. Go to a different store and play some more until you find one you really like. Especially with Gibson guitars the sound quality of guitars of the same model can vary widely. From sounding, not so great, to stellar. I advise to take your time when selecting a Gibson. You tend to pay a premium price for Gibson guitars make sure you actually get a premium instrument. Use your ears, don’t rush the selection process, and you will be fine.

New V-Picks!

These V-Picks showed up in my mailbox today. It was very nice of Vinnie and Mrs. V to send me a free Medium Pointed pick as a bonus to the four picks I ordered. Now I have to get down to trying these out to see which ones I like best. I will let you know what I think about this batch of V-Picks later… Keep pickin’!

Sfarzo Alloy5109 Electric Guitar Strings

The Sfarzo Alloy5109 electric guitar strings I ordered came in the mail yesterday. If you like Ernie Ball Cobalt strings, give these a try. Your wallet will thank you.


Sfarzo Electric String Review

My buddies over at wattkins.com were talking about different string gauges and one of the guys brought up that I turned him onto Sfarzo strings a few months back and that he really likes them. The guys suggested I do a blog post on Sfarzo strings, so here we go…

I found out about Sfarzo strings through stringsandbeyond.com from one of their weekly emails that I receive. Sfarzo’s Alloy5109 strings caught my eye, and I decided to purchase several different sets of Sfarzo strings to see how they stack up against other strings I have used over the years. To be specific I was looking for electric guitar strings that would perform similarly to Ernie Ball Cobalts, but at a lower price point. I must say the Sfarzo Alloy5109 strings filled that niche for my guitar playing needs. I use the Alloy5109 strings exclusively on my Godin LG Signature guitar.

Here is a list of Sfarzo’s main line of electric guitar strings.

Signature Pro
SFT Screamers

I have tried all of these except the Nickelanium strings because Strings and Beyond does not carry them. If they had them I would have tried them for sure. At this point I purchase most of my guitar strings from Strings and Beyond. I’ll do blog post at a later date about why I like Strings and Beyond, and why they have retained my business.

Sfarzo also has a Boutique/Custom line of strings that I have not yet tried. Therefore I do not have an opinion at this time on those. I will probably try them out down the road. Sfarzo’s custom packaged strings with your own logo, picture, or band name interests me, and their pricing is quite competitive. I think this is a pretty darn cool option for self-promotion.

Sfarzo strings are available in a wide range of gauges and specialty sets for various tunings for 6 and 7 string guitars. Check out Sfarzo’s web site for more information.

Sfarzo also has this cool web page that is called “Everything You Wanted to Know About Guitar Strings”, which is quite informative.

I currently use 10 – 46 gauge strings on all of my guitars, except for my Les Paul Studio where I started using the Drop-D set that is a regular 10 – 46 set with the 46 gauge string swapped out for a 52 gauge low E string, which provides better string tension when playing in Drop-D tuning. I use Gibson and Godin electric guitars. I have strung up my Explorer, Les Paul Studio, and LG Signature (all of these guitars have tune-o-matic bridges) with several sets of Sfarzo strings over the past year and a half.

Here’s what I have found.

I really like how the Signature Pro and Alloy5109 strings sound. They produce a nice clear, fat, round tone that I really like. These are some of the best sounding electric guitar strings I have used for the price. The SFT Screamers sound on par with regular Ernie Ball Slinky, and Dean Markley Signature Series electric guitar strings. The Screamers are keeping good company there, since I use those other brands as well.

I have experienced some premature breakage issues with the wound Sfarzo strings on my two Gibson guitars. The wound E, A or D string would break after only a few hours of playing time. I never had a problem with the plain strings breaking in this timeframe. At first I thought it was the bridge saddles, which I tried to sand smooth to no avail. Yeah sure, I could change my saddles to Graph Tech saddles, which would probably cure the problem, but I did not have this problem with the Dean Markley Vintage and Signature Series strings I was using previously. I’m not sure if Sfarzo’s wound strings are wound differently, or if the type of metal in the wire used to wind around the core strand is not compatible with my Gibson tune-o-matics. Maybe the core strand is more brittle than Dean Markley or Ernie Ball’s core strands. I ended up switching back to Dean Markley Signature Series strings for my Explorer and Les Paul Studio. The wound string breakage problem does not exist with these strings. On the Les Paul Studio I swap out the 46 gauge low E string with a 52 gauge Ernie Ball Slinky string for drop D tuning to simulate the Drop-D SFT Screamer set I used to use from Sfarzo. A specific gauge set Dean Markley doesn’t sell, so I roll my own. I think Sfarzo’s Drop-D set is a great idea, and that every string manufacturer should make a similar Drop-D set. To be fair I must say your mileage may vary with your specific Gibson guitar, but this is what I experienced with my two Gibson electrics (1990 Explorer and 2003 Les Paul Studio).

The previous mentioned wound string breakage issue I do not have with my Godin LG Signature that sports a Schaller tune-o-matic bridge. I happily keep this guitar strung with a 10 – 46 gauge set of Alloy5109 strings. I have also used the Signature Pro strings on this guitar to great effect as well. Both sets have made this guitar sound quite nice. I do prefer the slightly higher output from the Alloy5109 strings for this guitar.

Sfarzo strings are definitely worth a try. Let your ears be your guide, and keep on pickin’.

My Main Axes

I use four electric guitars on a regular basis depending on the musical group I am playing with, the required tuning and the songs I happen to be playing at the time. These guitars are a Gibson Les Paul Studio, Gibson Explorer, Godin LG Signature and a Godin Solidac. I have used these guitars for several years, which has provided me ample time to become quite familiar with them. In the coming weeks I will go over what I like and dislike about each guitar. Please stay tuned.

Roland Blues Cube Amp With New Eric Johnson Tone Capsule

This new digital amp that Roland put out seems pretty cool. I’m usually not a big fan of digital technology when it comes to playing electric guitar live, except for some digital effects. However, digital amp modeling keeps getting better and better, year after year, especially for recording purposes. What Roland has done here seems pretty cool. I haven’t had the opportunity to try one of these out yet, but this amp does seem promising.

Thanks to Sweetwater Sound for making this demo video.

Check it out.

Dunlop Nylon Midi Standard Review

The Dunlop Midi Standard .67 mm gauge nylon pick is the pick I choose most often when playing acoustic guitar.

Pick Specs:

  • Gauges: ..53, .67, .80, .94, 1.07, 1.14 mm
  • Material: Nylon
  • Shape: Regular
  • Tip: Rounded
  • Price: About .50¢ a piece or $3.50 – $6.00 for a 12 pack

I really like how these nylon picks sound when playing acoustic guitar. They flex quite a bit, which is perfect for strumming chords. This allows for all types of strumming patterns, arpeggiation of chords, and for some single line notes. If I want a little more stiffness I will switch to the .73 mm gauge in Dunlop’s Nylon Standard line of picks (.38, .46, .60, .73, .88, 1.0 mm), which also sound very good when used with the acoustic guitar.

What is nylon? A tough, lightweight, elastic synthetic polymer with a protein like chemical structure, able to be produced as filaments, sheets, or molded objects. In our case molded guitar picks. For more information on nylon’s history look here.

As you can see in the picture these nylon picks have a raised surface in the gripping area, which allows for a very secure grip while playing. I have not had a problem with these picks moving around or slipping out of my fingers.

I do not use nylon picks when playing electric guitar very often, but the 1.0 mm gauge is a good pick to use if you are into playing Funk guitar or want to learn this genre of music for guitar.

How does the Dunlop Midi Standard sound? This pick produces a tone that makes acoustic guitars come to life! The tone produced with this pick has a warmness, with a touch of sparkle and airiness that I haven’t been able to find in any other guitar pick type. The sound draws me in and makes playing more enjoyable. Plus the pick glides over the strings for gorgeous sounding strums and arpeggiations. Highly recommended!