Sunday, November 24, 2013

La Patrie Collection Acoustic Guitar Review

Hiya!

Today we are looking at a very nice La Patrie Collection model classical-style acoustic guitar, which is their top-of the line instrument. La Patrie is an offshoot of the Godin family of guitars and their instruments are made in La Patrie, Quebec. I think Canada may have more luthiers than hockey players. Maybe not.

I first heard of La Patrie guitars when I was doing some research on a Simon & Patrick acoustic guitar (also made by Godin), and I noticed that this the parent company’ line of classical guitars. Since then I have played their Presentation model (one step from the top), and figured that I had better compare it to the Collection model.

The Collection is a smart-looking guitar, with a solid spruce top that supposedly comes from trees that average 800 years old. When I think about how old those trees are, I feel pretty bad, but maybe they collect the wood from trees that are already dead. Anyway, the back and side are formed from very nice solid Indian rosewood, and there is a simple white binding around the top and back. The body is finished in a semi-gloss lacquer, and Godin makes it a point to say that it is very thin to allow the top to vibrate more freely and to allow the wood to breathe and age better. More on this later…

The neck is made of satin-finished Honduras mahogany with a rosewood fretboard. There are 19 medium frets, and they are finished well with nice edges. The neck maintains the traditional classical guitar string spacing and nut width of (2 3/32 inches), but it has a lot thinner profile than usual. This leads to a huge deviance from traditional construction, in that the neck employs a dual-action truss rod. More on this later, too…

The rest of the specifications list contains no bad surprises either. The black and gold lyre tuners are nice quality and hold well. La Patrie also equipped it with a first-rate Tusq (by Graphtech) synthetic bone nut and bridge saddles, and a rosewood bridge. I mentioned earlier that the frets are good, and the overall construction is very nice too. The finish is pretty and the braces are nicely cut and glued, and I cannot find a visible flaw on this instrument.

The last pieces of the puzzle are how the Collection plays, and how it sounds, and the results are mixed.

I like the feel of the instrument. For a classical guitar it is a little heavier than I expected, coming in at almost 5 pounds, but it is nicely balanced. The thinner profile neck is very comfortable, making it feel a lot more easily (king of like a steel-string acoustic). The action is a tad high, but I was able to get around the fretboard with no troubles or buzzing.

Unfortunately, tone is where this La Patrie guitar falls short. It has a muffled sound, like the top is not able to resonate freely. Despite the company’s assertions that they apply a super thin layer of lacquer, this thing seems like it has a ton of finish on it. The Presentation model I played had a lot thinner finish, and a lot better sound. Also, I have to wonder if the thinner neck is giving less of the juicy classical guitar sound that I expected. Either way, this guitar is just not working for me, and I am disappointed that their top of the line model does not sound as good as their cheaper instruments.

This one might just be a clunker, so I have to recommend that you try before you buy. MSRP on the La Patrie Collection is a mere $825, with a street price of about $695 and I see them on the used market for around 400 bucks. Be careful, my friends!

Mahalo!

4 comments:

  1. Probably just a clunker, but it is surprisingly easy to mess up the formula with some classical guitars. In order to sound really good, they usually need to be built like a kite.
    What scale length does this use. Rex?
    The La Patrie website doesn't give those numbers.

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  2. Just a touch over 25 inches, Corey. It is built like a brick outhouse, not a kite...

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  3. No expert here, but I notice the finish on this instrument is a lot more orange and more glossy than other Collections I've seen. I wonder if it's original

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  4. Anonymous: you cannot judge subtle color differences from an image. I may just be the color balance of the picture.

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