La Patrie Presentation
The La Patrie Presentation Classical Guitar is a hybrid design that gives a true classical sound from a body and neck with semblances of a steel string acoustic guitar.
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The La Patrie Presentation Classical Guitar by Godin is a mid level classical instrument. The build quality is not as refined as the more expensive La Patrie Concert model, but probably better than the Etude (Study/student) model.
The Recommended Retail Price for the Presentation is around AUD $1,350 (unless on sale for around AUD $1,050), so this is hardly an entry level instrument. At the RRP, it's more like entry level plus $1K.
The Presentation's external build quality, feel, tone and use of solid timbers throughout, quickly make you realise that there is indeed a lovely instrument in your hands.
Like so many Godin acoustic instruments the La Patrie Presentation Classical Guitar has a Godin preamp / tuner / under-saddle active Piezo element as an option and of course at additional cost. There is however no cutaway version of the Presentation model, making this guitar look and feel slightly more like the traditional Classical construction and design.
The story behind my acquisition of a La Patrie Presentation Guitar began one afternoon when I was looking for a hard case for my shiny new La Patrie Concert. Someone was selling a slightly damaged, ten year old Presentation with a Tric case.
The price was in the ballpark for keeping the Tric case and reselling the guitar with a different hard case. Which worked out just fine, as I had a buyer waiting. The thing is, I actually really like playing this guitar so much, that I had trouble letting go of it ;-)
I should say however, that this is an easy guitar to sell. The sound and playability are really awesome. Having a dual action truss rod helps of course, because you can readily tweak the action to a professional performance level that is beyond the scope of many classical guitars. Yes indeed, a classical guitar with great action!
The La Patrie Presentation Classical Guitar were to be seen listing online for around AUD $1,400 new and AUD $500 to $800 for a used one in reasonable condition. The current, rebranded 'Godin' variant is AUD $1,800 new and around AUD $1,200 - $1,400 used.
At right, new Godin Presentation version at top, La Patrie version below. Note the headstock difference. Otherwise, same specs.
The catch is that these guitars are 'keepers', so it could take a while to actually find a suitable used instrument. Like most Godins, these guitars are not particularly common in Australia. I have a feeling this will change over the coming decade as we slowly recover from our addiction to 'Made in China' and look elsewhere for good value, yet high quality instruments.
So what do you get for your money?
Playing the La Patrie Presentation Classical Guitar
Playing the Presentation classical guitar is a pleasurable experience, even for beginners. I have yet to encounter anyone who doesn't like it. Though the general design and shape appear fairly ordinary and adhering to the general traditional classical design, Godin don't play by the rules. Godin innovate.
The dual action truss rod allows fine tuning of the action (please - probably best left to a professional or the experienced). The fret setup is superb ex-factory, with absolutely no sharp edges. The neck feel is silky smooth and not at all bulky, thanks again (at least in part) to the truss rod that allows a thinner neck profile.
La Patrie Presentation Sound
All of the La Patrie Classical instruments feature solid cedar tops which lends them an immediate brightness and clarity of tone. The solid mahogany back and sides produce the well-balanced warmth and depth of tone, along with a surprising amount of projection.
The instrument that I'm reviewing will probably also benefit from ageing timbers (now old) which may be adding an element of richness and warmth to the sound. I keep hoping that someone will say something like that about me one day, but it's more likely they'll be referencing creaking and groaning
Even the (now somewhat older) Godin preamp / tuner / tone controls and Piezo pickup, perform admirably when amplified. Just to note that this guitar model is commonly available without electronics.
Build Quality / Workmanship / Reliability
The build quality of the La Patrie Presentation is good, but not excellent. The inside finishing, the stuff you're not meant to see, really is a little rough. I guess it's why the Concert model costs more. It can be a real revelation, peering inside a guitar.
The components used are very good quality. For example: the tuning pegs still work flawlessly, on a guitar that has had to 'work for a living' travelling internationally.
No signs of bridge bulge or other structural failures. Just the expected decade's worth of knocks and dents. Absolutely full marks for reliability.
The external semi-gloss finish, while seemingly adequate on a new instrument, is actually extremely thin and easily damaged and/or worn through. The manufacturer's stated 'reasoning' for this, is that there is less impact on the instrument's tone. I'm going to call that out as 'Bullshit' and state that it is all really about reducing production costs, while trying to come off sounding superior.
Why does this matter?
The guy I purchased the Presentation from, plays a fair amount of flamenco and likes to go heavy on oiling his guitars - not just the neck. However because the surface coating is so thin, any decent whack with a sharp fingernail will puncture that surface finish. This ultra-thin coating also allows the oil (and probably anything else one would wipe the guitar with) to seep into the wood, just below the finish. In some places the oil has simply soaked in along the lines of the wood grain. Which, over time, could quite likely cause the finish to separate from the wood.
To me, that's just inadequate (stingy) finishing. At some point the front of this guitar may want to get carefully sanded down and refinished (properly ;-)
Here is the actual PR from Godin, titled "Lacquer Finish":
"LaPatrie guitars are finished with a special lacquer formula. This finish is light enough to allow the wood to breath and vibrate freely. The tops resonating capacity actually improves as the guitar is played over an extended period of time. This gradual improvement in the response of the top is often referred to as "aging". Poly finishes inhibit top vibration and are therefore never used on LaPatrie guitars. Many other guitars use a thick plastic finish that smothers top vibration and prevents the benefits of aging."
I've played way too many guitars that have a great sound, obviously in spite of having a good thick protective coating, to take the above claims seriously. Show me some science (you know, we can do that these days, e.g. comparative audio spectral analysis), instead of a cleverly worded marketing spiel to justify cost saving production methods ... and ... I might just come around.
There are already way too many 'money generating myths' when it comes to guitar building and setup. Marketing often relies on creating a 'perceived point of difference', where no meaningful difference exists.
Strings for the La Patrie Presentation Classical Guitar
I was running the squeaky Savarez hi tension strings, then replaced those with the more affordable Martin High Tension strings. These perform well and nicely stay in tune once run in. They do appear to have become difficult to acquire though.
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 to have 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% or more cheaper that way.
Martin Silver Plated Classical Guitar Strings 28-43 High Tension Plain End - M120
or M160 (28 - 43) Hard Tension Ball Ends if the M120s are hard to find.
Repairs, Parts, Restoration
The La Patrie Presentation Classical Guitar is all solid timbers. While that does make it a little more susceptible to physical damage than laminated guitars, it also makes it considerably more worthwhile to repair. This model is still current (but now branded as just Godin without the La Patrie) and Godin should be able to supply most of the required parts. It tells you something right there, when a manufacturer maintains and improves the same model for more than a decade.
Just a quick note on parts: The original Godin Preamp/EQ/Tuner is no longer available from Godin. This was was replaced in their parts inventory by a Fishman Preamp/EQ/Tuner model with different physical dimensions. If the original preamp fails on an older Presentation model, this will become very significant.
Even the piezo element is substantially different (physically and electrically) to commonly available items. If the piezo element is replaced with a standard item, this will require the saddle slot to be deepened and/or the saddle to be lowered (filed down) to retain action. The original saddle and piezo element are also slightly longer (~5mm) than the regular available items.
Value for Money (8/10)
The La Patrie Presentation is in that awkward situation of having been around for more than a decade, while still being a current model. This means that the cost of buying a used Presentation will always be compared to the current 'New' or 'Sale' price. I guess that just means that, if you are in a hurry, you will probably end up paying more than if you are taking your time and waiting for a good deal.
Instrument condition will also play a big part in a used instrument's value, along with having a case (which may also indicate better care). I would suggest that you don't purchase any $1K plus instrument without a hard case.
This leaves the used price rather variable from anything around a few hundred dollars below list price (perhaps $1K) for an almost new (as in hardly played) guitar, down to AUD $400-500 for a well worn-in older Presentation guitar. Look long and hard if buying a used one, and check for damage and wear.
La Patrie Presentation Classical Guitar is a lovely piece of kit that is only just surpassed by the more expensive La Patrie (now just Godin) Concert model. The sound is great, but on the bright side. The playability will put a smile on most player's faces.
I have had both the Presentation and Concert guitars at the same time and can say there is very little between them. I sold the older (by at least 10 years) Presentation model and kept the Concert, but it was really (... really) hard to let the La Patrie Presentation go.
La Patrie Presentation Specifications
The La Patrie Presentation Classical Guitar will snugly fit into a standard classical guitar case and/or bag. It will benefit from being stored in a hard case.
|Year(s) Sold:||Currently sold as Godin Presentation|
|Original RRP (AUD):||Original New: $1,350 / Sale: $1,050
Current 'Godin' instruments are more expensive at up to $1800 new.
|Body Depth:||at C 97 mm (3 3/4")
at E 100 mm (3 15/16")
|Neck Width:||Nut 50.8mm (2")
19th Fret 63mm (2 1/2")
|Neck Radius:||60.9cm (24")|
|Soundboard:||Solid Cedar top|
|Back &Sides:||Solid Rosewood|
|Bridge:||Rosewood with compensated saddle|
|Saddle & Nut:||Tusq nut & saddle by Graphtech|
|Tuners:||Gold "lyra" style with pearloid buttons|
- Playability - 9 / 10 (very good).
- Sound - 8 / 10 (Good bright tone, but perhaps lacking some depth and richness).
- Build Quality - 8 / 10 (Great external, but a little rough on the inside).
- Durability & Reliability - 10 / 10 (Time proven).
- Value for Money - 8 /10 (Most Godin instruments are on the expensive side).
- Overall Average Score ... 8.6 / 10
Your comments and contributions are greatly appreciated!
230825 - (rating discarded) - Comments on top coating being to thin, go counter to the greater flexibility leading to better tone in the classical guitar community. Oiling up a thinly coated guitar top is not a wise thing to, do but an ignorant approach. Flamenco players usually install a clean plastic fingernail tapping protective top over a portion of the guitar top. Of course the grunt that cares less for how a top looks will grease her up. Other than that a mention that a cedar top is quieter with richer tone than a spruce top would help. Both are simply a matter of taste in tone. Clear and brighter or more mellow and richer, Both are enjoyable. With Regards, P.
Editor's Note: Not being a member of 'The Classical Guitar Community', I'm not biased by traditions based in mythos. I like to stay informed with the art, practicalites and science of instrument making. The former owner of the reviewed instrument, a professional Flamenco guitarist, has a fondness for oiling his various guitars which I certainly disagree with (and I explained the 'why' to him). The guitar did have a 'scratch / tapping plate', which was removed because it would no longer be needed by its new owner (and some oil had seeped in at the edges). All of which is just to point out that it doesn't pay to make assumptions about things and/or people.
professional 230617 - (Excellent) - I have an old model of presentation, nr 117. Classic guitar, I love the sound. Guitar is unusually heavy. I was hopping to get some insights on the old style vs new designs. Thx for the article man. Claudiu.
Editor's Note: Glad to help
230107 - (Excellent) - I love my La Patrie guitar I found on a hock shop...
Such a beautiful guitar with lovely tones and great playability ... I'll never sell it ...
Editor's Note: I'm currently replacing the electronics on my La Patrie Concert and wishing I had kept the Presentation
220412 - (Excellent) - I bought my first classical guitar back on 1/10/2006. Of all the ones I tried, I settled on - La Patrie Presentation which I had shipped from Baie D'Urfe', Quebec. I was very impressed by the quality and sound. I would highly recommend buying another one when needed.
Editor's Note: Good to see I'm not the only one. Thanks for writing
Incept Date: Wizard - 200417
Last Update: Wizard - 230920