Great set up, played great right out of the box. Pity I have to change all that as I use a higher gauge string but for me that’s not a problem.
The XTSA itself? Who would play one of these, why did I buy it? Is it a good quality guitar, what does it sound like?
I suppose all in all I was inspired by the sound of Lindsey Buckingham’s Model One, which I would love but it’s £5,000 plus so....
The first Godin I bought on the path to that type of sound was their A6 and they say that the XTSA has a better acoustic voice which is due to better electronics, individual piezos etc.
Well that would be true if the A6 didn’t have it’s own resonant acoustic voice that is louder unplugged that some thin bodied acoustics. This can be heard over your vocal mic if you sing and if you don’t you can still mic it and that’s a GOOD copy of an acoustic, that can also be beefed up with the humbucker. (Closer to the Lindsey sound in a way, but the electric is weaker.)
But then the pluses on the A6 become the minus’s in that sense as the acoustic voice is always on your vocal mic if you sing, unless you are a great tech and can stop that. (Harder for me as I sit down, as I'm older and I use a lot of expression pedal, so the guitar is closer to the vocal mic than when you stand.)
But then this contributes, along with the chambering of the A6, to the muddy sound of the electric aspect of the A6 when driven.
The XTSA has a great tone. It’s hard to hear it maybe, but apart from the voicing via the pups, chambering etc. the two guitars both have that ‘Godin’ tone, which I love.
I wasn’t happy with my A6 with regards to where I was heading tonally because I also use a lot of subtle whammy and pinch harmonics and the A6 doesn’t ring that easily.
What I wanted was indeed an A6 with better pups and a whammy, and the XTSA indeed does that.
You see I didn’t really know what I was looking for in a guitar, I knew what I liked when I heard it and what I don’t like. I don’t like Strats as they are too nasal in my mind, very stylised, and LP’s are too much for my ears, like a cartoon caricature of a guitar.
Even via buying the A6, it made me consider putting piezo saddles on my Strat, with a preamp to get more acoustic byte, like Pete Townsend did, but then you don’t get an EQ. And then before I started ordering stuff, I slowed down and thought about it. I then played the A6 clean on the humbucker and realised that the tone on the guitar is still the same without the piezo, as I said the piezo only really gives bite. So it seems it’s the Godin sound I like?
And then to me the Godin A6 simply sounded better than the Strat in general, but then it’s muddy when driven and no trem so..... The XTSA!
So.... Strats sound like Strats, I’ve got emg 57 66’s in mine and it still sounds like it always did and yet now it’s clearer when driven is all, and it drives harder of course, but then other than that not much really changed the cleans are still much the same.
LP’s sound like LP’s...give or take.
In my mind, Godin’s, well the two I’ve now played, that do also have Godin pups, they have a ‘sound’. And personally I LOVE it, I’m finally happy with that tone... I got the God-in me!
I’ve only had it a short while but I love ALL the electric tones, along with a nice bite from the piezo that when taken out gives great contrast. You can indeed bluff via playing the same licks with peizo in and then out, and it sounds diverse. Subtle but it holds the ear. Funny how the human brain works, it seems to enjoy processing sound, and delights when you subtly change voicings. Hearing the same voicing over and over simply get’s monotone-ous.
The synth? Well I thought I may as well get the GR-55 seeing as the guitar is synth ready, not that I was bothered. And yeah the synth is nuts, I don’t even know where to start.
On a quick pan through, some of the sounds are like a cheap synth organ, horrible! But then there are a few obvious gems there, some great guitar effects, I guess I won’t talk too much about the synth as I never was a big fan. If you play in a covers band you will LOVE it. And you can see all the videos of what it does on Youtube.
Quick note on the synth, you can run it all through one amp to get used to it before you start spending money on more amps, as you can with the XTSA, run it through three, which helps the acoustic sound via an acoustic amp.
You need the 13 pin cable, but then they sell the GR-55 with or without the external cable that comes actually with the external pick up for standard guitars. If you buy the one with the external pick up, it’s only £70 more so you kinda get the pick up for £20 as the 13 pin lead on it's own is £50, (But yes you can get the cables cheaper on e bay, not real Roland ones but they look much the same?) You can then use the pick up for other guitars that are not synth ready. (If you buy the external pick up (GK 3), with 13 pin lead on it’s own it’s £150!)
And if you use effects pedals/boards, YES you can simply run them all in line. (On my GR-55 it came defaulted to send the electric sounds out of the guitar out, whereas the sythn and acoustic come out the stereo/mono outputs. Well I had a Y cable so I sent both outs to the same amp. You can change this however by sending everything out of one output, the manual tells you how.)
So the XTSA? I would have one even if it didn’t have the synth option, it’s a great sounding guitar that is easy to play. The finish is top standard never seen better only as good, love the ebony fretboard. I was worried about the trem, will it stay in tune? Well I use a lot of trem, and yet always subtle, no dives etc and it’s fine.
Would I recommend it? All things being equal YES!
But then you have to like the tone, which I LOVE.
Some say it can do Strat and LP sounds, well I don’t know, it’s not the same, similar-ish.
And I say this because I heard a review from a Strat LP purist who said the XTSA sounded crap...
Whereas I am so fed up with Strats and LP’s, that fashion has past in my mind (subjective).
What exactly do I like about the tone?
Okay so I played a cheap Telecoustic Deluxe for years, not through an amp it sounds crap, it was my traveling come 'next to the couch' guitar. And the odd thing was that it sounded like an electric-acoustic even when unplugged, how so? Well it sounded crap LOL compared to a good acoustic, it sounded a bit like an electric guitar with the volume turned right down. More crash than ring.
But I loved that sound, hearing it up close the possibilities were obvious, so I wanted that sound but bigger and more playable, and also I wanted to add in my electric style, and yet my electric guitars in comparison sounded compromised, most electrified guitars have their own signature tone. I did indeed want to take the pure sound of an acoustic guitar, and electrify it, not just make it louder ELECTRIFY it!
That’s what I think Godin have achieved.... it’s a more natural 'guitar' tone... in my mind at least.
Like that in another universe when people decided to amplify guitars, Mr Les Paul, Mr Strat Ocaster, and Mr Godin all had a go and Mr Godin go it the closest.
Not that I’m saying that Godin's are the best, Strats and LP’s are stylised and that sound is imprinted now on our musical history. I’m suggesting that the XTSA is a closer sound to what was originally intended.