La Patrie Concert CW QIT
The La Patrie Concert CW QIT (Quantum) Classical Guitar includes some hybrid design features that give a true classical sound (if on the bright side) from a body and neck with semblances of a steel string acoustic guitar.
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The La Patrie Concert CW QIT (Quantum EQ) model Classical Guitar by Godin has recently been rebadged to the Godin Concert CW Clasica II and is still produced in La Patrie, Canada. Apparently all Godin guitar necks are produced at the La Patrie factory as well. The Concert model was the first of the La Patrie range to be available with a cutaway (CW). Once you've tried it ... well, it's hard to go back ;-)
From a price perspective the La Patrie Concert model was almost the topmost of its group (Etude, Presentation, Concert, Collection) and not surprisingly generally carried the second highest price tag (and only by a few dollars) at around AUD $1,800 (unless on sale, which can see the 'new' price down to around AUD $1,450). The catch here of course, at least in Australia, is availability.
Note: Apparently those not living down-under often consider these Godin classical instruments to be mid level or even lower mid level in price. For those of us living on the opposite side of the planet in the antipodes, these are bloody expensive and hard to come by classical axes - just saying.
One day while in McCanns Music in Hobart (yep - free plug, support your local music shop), I picked up and played a guitar from the second highest tier, a $1,400 Cordoba I think (supposedly Spanish made). Did not like it - at all.
Then pulled down the guitar from the top rack, a non-cutaway, sans electronics, La Patrie Concert.
After a quick tuning (a little bit concerning that it needed that, in a music shop) and playing a little Pseudo Flamenco (it's what I call that particular piece) ... and ... I knew right then and there, that I had found love. That's the guitar, not the young singer-songwriter sales-girl, just to be clear. You know, 'Hey Nineteen' - Steely Dan.
Digressions aside - After playing the non-cutaway and piezo-less version of the La Patrie Concert, I had to get one of these Godin guitars.
When it arrived, I was not disappointed and truly consider it money very well spent (slow exhale and sigh of relief).
As a gentle reminder, that nothing is perfect, while looking for the battery compartment on the La Patrie Concert CW QIT, I was astounded to discover that the battery was in fact attached to the inside of the guitar with Velcro (apparently not typical). Meaning, you need to un-string the guitar to change the battery. Whilst I can appreciate the desire to 'not mess up' the beautiful solid mahogany side timbers - that solution just sucks.
For a considerable time, I thought of getting around this inconvenience by using a USB rechargeable 9V battery. I had planned to cut a tiny hole somewhere for the USB C cable female end to poke through (and be accessible from outside), probably near the EQ controls - and then, on looking around the inside of the guitar, decided against that approach.
Instead the USB cable is accessible from just inside of the upper region of the sound hole. Held in place with nothing more sophisticate than some super-glue - no holes or serious mods required. This is really something that could / should have been designed and built-in.
Let's skip to the details.
The La Patrie Concert Classical Guitar can be seen listing online for around AUD $1,800 new ($1,450 on sale) and AUD $1,000 to $1,300 for a used one in good condition. Varies with options like cutaway and electronics which can bump up the price. The availability of various model options can be somewhat limited in Australia. Also, does not come standard with a case in Australia - and when you are spending very close to AUD $2K, you really do want a case!
Came across an old 2014 in-store review where the base model La Patrie Concert was still retailing for USD $500.
<begin rant> These Godin guitars tend to be 'keepers', therefore they are somewhat rare as used instruments. While Godin guitars are still uncommon in Australia, I have a feeling this will inevitably change as we recover from our global addiction to 'Made in China', and of course the after-shocks of various viral problems, idiots looking to start the next world war and/or end the world and of course our ongoing anthropogenic global warming issues - just in case anyone had forgotten.
Ever since China's multiple failed attempts to cripple the Australian economy, I have actively avoided buying Chinese - I am as they say, voting with my wallet. I have even passed up offers to be a 'Brand Ambassador' - maybe next lifetime.<end rant>
Playing the La Patrie Concert CW Classical Guitar (9/10)
I used to joke that playing a classical guitar is like playing on rubber bands, however playing the La Patrie Concert CW classical guitar is a truly delightful experience (even for beginners). This is a guitar that impresses. Though the general design, size and shape adhere to a 'traditional classical look', Godin have innovated on this model.
The neck design is a hybrid, being slightly slimmer, narrower and with a gentle radius, leaning to more like that of a steel string than a typical classical guitar. The slimmer neck is possible thanks in part to the dual action truss rod, which also allows fine tuning of the action (an adjustment, just FYI, best left to the experienced).
The action and fret setup is superb ex-factory, with absolutely no sharp fret edges. The Rosewood fretboard and mahogany neck feel silky smooth. You just want to play this guitar!
La Patrie Concert CW Sound (10/10)
All of the La Patrie Classical instruments feature solid cedar tops which immediately lends them a brightness and clarity of tone. Godin (parent company of La Patrie) invest a very considerable effort into selecting and testing timbers for their many and varied instruments.
The solid mahogany back and sides produce the well-balanced warmth and depth of tone, along with a surprising amount of projection (even with the slight loss of volume due to the cutaway). Godin's explanation for this is the minimalist soundboard bracing and thin polished down high-gloss surface finish.
The Concert CW guitar has a brighter tone than one might expect from a standard classical guitar. The cutaway will be partly to blame for this by reducing the overall volume and changing the internal acoustics/reflections. Some purists might call that a strike, but I happen to like that aspect of the La Patrie Concert's tone.
The Godin Quantum QIT electronics (preamp / tuner / tone controls and Piezo pickup) perform admirably when amplified. The system is a visually appealing gold and black, very compact, simple to operate, quiet and just did exactly what it needed to (until it failed after 2 years).
Just to note that the Concert and Concert CW models are available without electronics (as are their newer Godin branded replacement models).
Build Quality / Workmanship (8/10)
The La Patrie Concert CW classical guitar is an exceptionally well made standard sized instrument. As you can see from the internal endoscope photos, even the bits you can't normally see show good to excellent workmanship and attention to detail. Quality control is very good.
Of course, there was a time when that was just 'how you made a classical guitar' - then mass production happened ;-)
La Patrie moved to using only solid timbers throughout their entire acoustic guitar range some years ago. So there is an immediate, high quality benchmark set for any of their acoustic and/or classical guitars, regardless of model. Their soundboards (tops) are all pressure tested solid spruce.Godin take their guitar making very seriously.
The tuning pegs are of excellent quality, operate smoothly and help the guitar keep tuned. The nut is Tusq® and saddle is Graphtech (both synthetics). The fretboard and bridge are Rosewood.
After a couple of years this is still a relatively new guitar and there are already signs of wear on both the neck and frets. I find this unusual for a nylon string guitar and more than a little disappointing.
By association - a similar (but less expensive) La Patrie Presentation model (sold to a friend) is still in excellent working order after years (10 of those years being professional use with some touring through Europe).
In mid 2022, the electronics failed (at almost 2yrs). There was still signal output and the tuner was also working. However, a loud hiss (white noise) had developed that was at least 6dB above the maximum signal level. Rendering the electronics essentially useless. At first it was assumed that the problem might be a flat or low battery ... nope. The circuit board was (eventually) removed from the guitar and inspected for any signs of damage or failed parts - nothing obvious. Then I noticed the PIC Controller chip and realised this could just be a software issue.
Since I have neither the facility, nor inclination, to try and reprogram the PIC Controller ... and Godin no longer offer that QIT preamp as a 'spare part' (can't imagine why), I plan to replace the preamp with something that won't have a brain-fart just because I looked at it the wrong way. To be continued ...
Sadly this does put the 1 year warranty on electronics into perspective. Note that new versions of this guitar (branded as Godin Concert CW Clasica II), come with Fishman preamps
Strings for the La Patrie Concert CW
The original ex-factory Godin Classical strings are not readily available in Australia, so a move to Martin Classical strings was made. Thanks to changing global supply circumstances, another brand change was required ... to Hannabach as it turned out. The result was a slight improvement in overall tonal balance.
Also if you are new to nylon string / classical guitars - detune your guitar (a tone or two) over the warmer summer months when not playing it. Then tune up to full tension only when needed. The nylon strings will sound and play better for longer, if they don't lose their elasticity.
When trying new strings, first buy a single pack (or two for spares) to see if they work for you. Once you find some that you like, try to buy them in three pack bundles - it's usually a good 20% cheaper that way.
Original - Godin Classical Strings.
Initially replaced with:
Martin Silver Plated Classical Guitar Strings 28-43 High Tension Plain End - M120
which became too hard to source
Replaced in late 2022 with German made Hannabach 500HT Classic Guitar Strings
Just read some amusing/interesting 'alternative facts' about 'String Tension', where the author claims: given that scale length and string pitch are a given, the only other variable determining the string tension is string thickness. Where 'higher tension equals thicker strings'. That is so overly simplistic and displays an ignorance of the chemistry of Nylon polymers, where: "Nylon polymers can be mixed with a wide variety of additives to achieve many property variations." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nylon
String thickness at a given tension is the mechanism for determining string pitch. Lower tension + thicker string with greater mass = lower note. In the case of Classical Guitar strings, the lower tuned strings (E/A/D and sometimes G) are usually a nylon core with silver or tin plated copper wire wound around the Nylon core to increase the string's mass.
And ... The tin or silver plating over the copper wire is there to prevent skin acids and oils from reacting with and corroding the copper, thereby creating that green (and toxic) copper patina effect. The plating (only a few microns thick) has nothing to do with the string's sound ... though some manufacturers will pretend that it does.
Value for Money (7/10)
The La Patrie Concert CW is barely good value, in that it is a high-end Godin classical instrument. This is approaching the rarified air realm, where even the slightest improvements start to cost a lot.
Is it worth it? I would say yes, if you have played it, like it and can afford that slight extra expense (about 15%).
Having had the next model down (La Patrie Presentation) for direct side-by-side comparison, I am well pleased that I purchased the (then) new Concert model. It's a lovely guitar, and it still puts a smile on my face every time I play it - I'd call that a winner.
Of course, these are still only very well made production instruments. For a truly hand-made classical guitar, one could expect to pay at least three times the price - just to get started. That said I have encountered a (supposedly) hand-made Spanish Esteve instrument that was a similar price (actually slightly more expensive) and nowhere near as good in build quality. Apparently that instrument was an oddity (according to other owners), but it just shows how careful you need to be ... and avoid assumptions.
Summary (only just an 8 /10)
At present the La Patrie Concert and Concert CW are simply the nicest classical guitars I have played (with the La Patrie Presentation close behind). I have no doubt that there are better classical instruments out there, but this is getting to the level of splitting hairs, nuance and personal preferences vs biases. I'm guessing that, past this point, you'd need to ask a full-time professional classical guitar player (if you could find one without a bias against hybrids), to get a more meaningful assessment.
Just FYI: Replacing any plastic components on guitars (e.g. nut and saddle), with bone parts can improve brightness and sustain. In this case however the specifically engineered Tusq® nut and Graphtech saddle have proven to be perfectly suited to the guitar and their respective tasks.
La Patrie Concert CW by Godin - Specifications
The La Patrie Concert CW will snugly fit into a standard classical guitar case.
|Year(s) Sold:||2000 - 2022|
|Original MSRP* (US$):||$1200 (AUD $1800+)|
|Body Depth:||at C 97mm (3 13/16")
at E 99mm (3 7/8")
|Neck Width:||Nut 50.8mm (2")
19th Fret 63mm (2 1/2")
|Neck Radius:||60.9cm (24")|
|Fingerboard:||Rosewood / 19 Frets|
|Soundboard:||Solid Cedar (Pressure Tested)|
|Back &Sides:||Solid Mahogany|
|Bridge & Tailpiece:||Rosewood|
|Saddle & Nut:||Tusq® nut & saddle by Graphtech|
|Finish:||High Gloss Clear|
|Machine Head Ratio:||14:1|
Gold Tone / Brass
- Playability - 10 / 10
- Sound - 9 / 10
- Build Quality - 7 / 10 Let down by the battery holder non-solution and preamp.
- Durability & Reliability - 7 / 10 Less than optimal.
- Value for Money - 7 /10 A tad expensive.
- Overall Average Score ... 8 / 10
Your comments and contributions are greatly appreciated!
200428 - (Very Good) - The Concert CW is a fantastic guitar. I have an older version with QIT. All nice stuff. BUT ... the fretboard and frets are deteriorating. I have to say the comment about the battery inside held with Velcro is a backward step. The version I have has the battery in a compartment accessible easily from the end of the guitar. All in all, beautiful guitar. NOT made in China.
Editor's Note: I have to say that I was surprised to notice similar wear issues on my Concert CW at the last string change. That should still be a year or three down the track. A little disappointing! Thanks for writing.
Incept Date: Wizard - (P-200812) 201228
Last Update: Wizard - 221220