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Godin Freeway Classic Electric Guitar (2004 model)
Review and Description
Godin Freeway Classic Electric Guitar (2004 model - discontinued)
Review and Description

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Godin Freeway Classic
Translucent Blue Flame
6 String Electric Guitar

With parts manufactured largely in Canada and assembled in the northern USA, these Godin instruments are well crafted, versatile and quite often feature innovative approaches to guitar design.

Godin has a history of building exceptionally well made guitars at affordable price points across various genres of stringed instruments.

Some proponents of the Godin guitars over the years include: Bill Frisell, Brian May, Daryl Stuermer, John McLaughlin, Kenny Rogers, Kris Kristofferson, Marcus Miller, Ritchie Blackmore, Roger Waters.

  Godin Freeway Classic

Godin Freeway Classic

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The Godin Freeway Classic is a very well crafted, simple but effective work-horse guitar. No classy prancing, clever tricks or frills. Just a great sound, very playable and rock-solid construction.

This guitar was a bit of a surprise for several reasons. Firstly, it is probably one of the older guitars that I have ever acquired, being already 18 years old at time of purchase. It was in amazingly good cosmetic condition for its age. But most significantly, the setup would have you thinking it just came out of the shop ... and I have it on good authority that neither of the former owners ever messed with it.

It was apparently, very much the 'occasional loungeroom guitar', that never saw active duty as a performer. Which explains the lack of neck and fret wear.

In fairness, this is very much a guitar that I didn't need, already owning a relatively new (2020) Godin xtSA. I was however curious as to how this now discontinued 'Classic' (in both name and age) would play ... and of course, I just totally loved the translucent blue flame colour. So when the price dropped, I couldn't resist the chance to try out another Godin axe.

Until around 2020, it was still possible to find the Godin Freeway series (Freeway Classic & Freeway SA with 13 pin output) being sold as 'new old-stock'. However, I think they were discontinued around the time the new Godin Session models were introduced.

That said, there are a number of variations of the Freeway models, with different fittings including chrome and satin grey (sometimes called Titanium) finish, several fretboard types and multiple colour schemes (See at right for pics and specs at bottom of page).

Currently one might expect to pay between AUD $800 to $1,200 for one of the standard Freeway Classics, depending on age and condition. Potentially double that amount for the Freeway SA which includes the electronics and 13 pin interface for Roland Guitar Synths.

On the Godin xtSA page I mention, that if you are not into guitar synths, that instrument is quite possibly wasted and the money could be better spent on a different guitar. Well, the Godin Freeway Classic could very well be that 'different guitar' ... and at around about a third of the cost.

The Godin Freeway Classic has the same pickups and configuration as my newer Godin xtSA, which no doubt explains the stiking similarity in sound. I have already and very reluctantly, sold the Freeway Classic to someone else who was similarly transfixed by the blue finish. That will be the second excellent Godin guitar that I have passed on and I will probably regret selling this one as well.

Onward ... to evaluating the Godin Freeway Classic Electric Guitar ... with some adventures on the blue side .... I do so love that colour ... did I mention that ;-) In fairness, the Lightburst Flame is also killer.

Playability and Usability (10/10):

The scale is 647.5mm (25½"), with a fairly average gentle neck radius of 300mm (12"). The nut width is a nominal 43mm (1-11/16"). Strat lovers should be right at home, playin' on the Freeway. The fret finish is typically flawless and the semi-jumbo frets (combined with the floating bridge) make string bends and intonation all too easy. While the action could not realistically be any lower, there is absolutely no fret buzz.

No surprise then that this guitar was a part of Godin's Performance Series of guitars. Another fine example of Godin's '
out of the factory and completely Ready To Go' guitar building philosophy. The only change I invariably make is from ex-factory strings .010 set, to my preferred .009 set.

The used guitar I purchased did not come with a whammy bar, so the tailpiece had been adjusted flat to the body. As a result no spring tension adjustment was required for the lighter strings. Some of these guitars do apparently ship with a whammy bar (vibrato arm) so changing string weights may require fine tuning (at the back).
Also - check before you buy, if having a whammy bar matters to you.

And just F.Y.I.: The whammy bar from my Godin xtSA does not fit. So obviously, they are not all made the same.

On the subject of action - the floating bridge makes action tweaks fairly straight forward. Simply remove the back cover and adjust the two spring retaining screws to suit. An action down to 4mm can be had without string/fret buzz. The instrument will need to be re-tuned several times throughout this process as the over-all string tension changes with each tweak. If in doubt - leave it to a professional or get someone with experience to walk you through it.

The lacquered Maple fretboard & neck (Strat style) has a good feel but will be prone to unsightly wear and
[Warning! Danger Will Robinson!] the finish is soluble in alcohol. So be careful when selecting a cleaning agent. The finish can be damaged really quickly.

The double cutaway depth on the Godin Freeway models is quite substantial and very practical. Along with the neck joint profile this allows comfortable playing all the way from the head stock right up to the 22nd fret.

The Godin Freeway is well balanced and has a very nice ergonomic relief contour (upper back) making it a very comfortable guitar to wear. The weight is moderate, I would say comfortable. This reflects slightly in the brighter tone of this instrument. The controls are minimalist (my fav), good quality and easy to use.

The tuners / machine heads (branded as Godin) are sensitive, smooth and reliable. Available as a Satin Grey (a.k.a. Titanium colour) on the Translucent Blue guitars and a Chrome finish on others.

Sound (9/10):

The Godin branded magnetic pickups offer a fairly standard 'Super-Strat' H-S-H ([][] [] [][]
Humbucker / Single Coil / Humbucker) configuration, combined with a similarly standard five position blade switch. The outputs from the Godin pickups are well matched (when PU heights are correctly adjusted), so there are no nasty level changes when switching through pickup options. Actual switching is typically quiet.

The magnetic pickups output via a single, and very smooth volume and tone, control set. While the pickups are somewhat on the bright side for humbuckers, there is plenty of drive available. (Note: there have been versions of the Freeway Classic with Seymour Duncan pickups.)

With the ability to combine either of the Humbuckers with the centre single coil pickup, one can readily get some sweet and bright Strat-like tones. The single tone control is useful, if not exciting. Most effective for the neck pickup if one wants to journey to jazz-land.

I personally love the simplicity of the single Volume and Tone control layout. There is nothing clever here and the provided controls work as expected. The volume control is probably a little tight for volume swells. Folks who regularly do that will probably swap that pot out for something with better freedom of movement. I tend to use a swell pedal, so not an issue.

The output from the magnetic pickups is available via a dedicated 6mm (¼") side mounted jack.

Build Quality (8/10):

The used Godin Freeway Classic I purchased looks like it might have been constructed while the Poplar wings were not completely dried, ultimately creating a very slight, but still noticeable difference in height at the joint between the Maple Leaf central section and the Poplar wings. While this difference is extremely small and almost impossible to feel, thanks to the high gloss finish, it is none-the-less quite visible.

While sanding back and another coat of clear would almost certainly resolve this cosmetic blemish, I suspect that given the cost of such an exercise, this particular unit will simply remain a cosmetically 'B' grade guitar.

Aside from the mentioned cosmetic blemish, the guitar was flawless. I have played ridiculously expensive guitars that were no better set up than this Godin Freeway Classic.

Like other Godin models, it feels like a generous amount of quality workmanship has been invested into the build. The neck, frets and frets ends are flawlessly smooth. The quality of the parts used is excellent. Nearly everything attached to the guitar comes with a Godin logo (notably tuners & pickups), so they are obviously very proud to put the Godin name out there.

!! Warning !!
While the strap pins / holders are well positioned, the Godin Freeway Classic comes fitted for the use of Strap Locks (as do most Godin guitars). This means that your average guitar strap, particularly if well worn, may be a very loose fit. Getting some strap locks added to your strap (at ~ $20) is highly recommended to prevent your axe from accidentally slapping the ground - Not kidding.

Durability & Reliability (10/10):

So this Godin Freeway Classic was constructed in 2004 and by 2022, it's already had what for most guitars is a lifetime. It has held up stunningly well with only a few items for complaint. Aside from the already mentioned cosmetics, there is a little dust in the volume and tone controls. Some cleaning spray should sort that out.

The use of lacquer on the neck and particularly the fretboard is 'oh so very Fender' and also fundamentally stupid! It has never been a good solution for neck building and I'm sure it was only included to make this guitar even more 'Strat-like' and therefore appealing to that market demographic.

As of May 2024, everything is still 100% functional and playing perfectly!

Since it is unlikely that you will find one of these to purchase as 'new', there would only ever be a reseller warranty of a few months, and that as a best case. However, below is a synopsis of Godin's policy on 'new' instruments. I have appropriately reduced the font size to improve the realism.

Warranty Information

Warranties are at best somewhat questionable, with the list of caveats usually so long that they often become largely useless. I have been unable to find an actual warranty statement on the Godin web site, other than the FAQ material paraphrased above.

Spare Parts
According to their web site, Godin do have a reasonably comprehensive selection of spare parts, repair / replacement kits, including preamps, wired electronics and assorted hardware. These should be adequate for most fixes ... if you can get them.

However ... If like me you are resident in Australia, expect to wait a few months for any ordered parts. Dealing with the Australian Godin supplier is painfully akin to watching grass grow ... but that's another story to be told elsewhere. Just saying, better you don't break it.

Available Documentation and Support (5/10)

This is one large fail area for Godin. I can understand how things can get convoluted when you have a guitar model with several variants and each of those evolves over time. However, it is really just basic customer support, to provide owners with information about their purchase, care for their purchase and a clear and unambiguous warranty.

The single page PDF specification sheets that Godin provides with their guitars, often don't mention all the variants and so the specifications appear to be 'flexible' and therefore can't really be trusted. This makes said documentation almost pointless. I find that kind of thing both disappointing and an annoying disservice to their customers. Customer service always requires an effort, that's why it is called a 'service'.

Value for Money (8/10):

The Godin Freeway Classic is generally going to be good value for money, because it is a relatively straight-up and basic kind of axe that can readily be compared to similar Ibanez, PRS, LTD, etc., models ... and even Fender's own Strat Clones (many of which this guitar would kick in the arse and surpass).

The Classic's price-point was always good and relatively low for the high quality of this instrument. For build quality, playability and sturdiness versus financial outlay, I'm inclined to go for a solid 8 out of 10.

Godin guitars are by no means cheap or 'low budget' instruments. However, from a buyer's perspective (particularly used guitar buyers), they benefit from several factors.

Firstly, Godin don't have the 'brand recognition' or market penetration that allows them to get away with charging absurdly high ticket prices (so far).

While not exactly 'hand-made' guitars, they are absolutely 'well crafted' and still involve considerable human intervention, particularly for finishing.

Godin guitars are certainly not mass produced, particularly when compared to most Asian made instruments. Being constructed in either Canada or the Northern USA from Canadian manufactured components, does imbue these guitars with a greater sense of integrity and transparency. We know, for example, that the people who are making these guitars are actually being paid a real wage to do so. There are also some useful YouTube videos showcasing the Godin factories' operations and the various instrument production processes.

The Godin Freeway Classic comes standard with the Godin soft case (a badged bag), which I believe to be totally inadequate to properly protect this instrument against anything more than scuffs and scratches. While these bags are very well constructed (compared to many similar items) and are much easier and smaller to store than cases (e.g. can generally be folded in half), they don't offer any degree of meaningful structural protection.

If you are any kind of working musician, you will want a hard case

Summary (Overall 8 / 10):

An excellent guitar to play, with a great sound and no nasty quirks. The Godin Freeway Classic will be fine in the studio or on the road - it's made to rock - Beautifully set up and presented, right out of the box (or in this case bag ... see how wrong that sounds).

If I didn't already own a most excellent Godin xtSA, this blue gem would become my GoTo guitar - I'm impressed and very pleased ;-)

Just F.Y.I. - I purchased this guitar on a whim, intending to keep it. It was reluctantly sold again (to another 'blue person') almost as soon as I mentioned that I had it.
So I only got to enjoy it for a few months.

For those who might be interested - For a while John McLaughlin (Mahavishnu Orchestra) used a Godin Freeway SA (with 13 pin MIDI) [http://www.jazzapparatus.com/john-mclaughlins-gear/]. He presently endorses PRS guitars. See the somewhat longer and more complicated Godin xtSA page if you are curious about the MIDI / Guitar Synth possibilities of selected Godin guitars which includes the Godin Freeway SA (SA = Synth Access).

Godin Freeway Classic Specifications:

Availability: Approximately 2004 to 2020 (in Canada)
      Discontinued model in Australia (sells for up to AUD $1,200 used).

Body: Silver Leaf Maple Centre w Poplar Wings
Top: Premium grade veneer of Figured Maple
Neck: Rock Maple
Fingerboard: Maple or Ergo-cut Rosewood

Fingerboard Radius: 300 mm  (12")
Scale Length: 647.5 mm  (25.5")
Nut Width: 43 mm  (1.7")
Nut Type: Graphtech ????
Frets: 22 - Medium Jumbo
Machine Head Ratio: 18:1
Machine Heads: Chrome Godin w Titanium Grey Knobs
String Set ex-factory: E10 - .010 .013 .017 .026 .036 .046

Neck Pickup: Godin Custom N Humbucker
Middle Pickup: Godin Single Coil
Bridge Pickup: Godin Custom B Humbucker

Bridge and Tailpiece: Vintage Tremolo Bridge

Colours: Translucent Blue Flame, Light-burst Flame, Maroon Sparkle,
              Red, Black Pearl (possibly others)

Finish: Body - High Gloss, Neck - Satin (Do Not Clean with Alcohol)
Default Supplied Case: Godin Gig Bag

Weight: 3.7 kg  (8.0 lbs) ???

Ships with: Guitar, Godin Gig Bag.

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