Wednesday, June 22, 2016

La Patrie Etude Acoustic Guitar Review


Today we are looking at a nice La Patrie Etude model classical-style acoustic guitar that I picked up at my local flea market. La Patrie is an offshoot of the Godin family of guitars and their instruments are made in LaPatrie Quebec. I think Canada may have more luthiers than lumberjacks. Maybe. I have owned a few of their instruments in the past, and came away mostly impressed with what they have to offer.

When I first picked up this guitar, I was impressed by the sound and, and even more by the seller’s asking price, which was right about as low as you can for any new guitar, and it is certainly more playable than many entry level instruments. The condition was good with no cracks or repairs, no fret wear, and some scratches on the top from exuberant playing. It also came with a hard case, so it had to come home with me!

The Etude is a pleasant-looking guitar, with a solid cedar top, and wild cherry (play that funky music) back and sides, which is probably a laminate. The finish is sort of a semi-gloss lacquer, and the body has a simple binding around the top and back. It is not too big, measuring 11 inches at the upper bout, 15 inches at the lower bout, and it is around 4 inches deep. On the downside, the rosette looks a little cheap and the cedar top is very prone to scratching and dings, but it is what it is.

Mahogany is used for the neck, with a rosewood fretboard and headstock front laminate, and it appears to have the same satin finish as the body. There is a dual-action trussrod in the neck (gasp!), which allows for a little thinner profile, so it is more comfortable to me than other classical guitars, despite the standard 2-inch wide nut. 19 medium frets are sunk into the fretboard, and they are level with nice edges.

For this guitar, Godin specified black and gold lyre tuners that look kind of funny, but are of barely acceptable quality and hold kind of well. They also gave it first-rate Tusq (by Graphtech) synthetic bone nut and bridge saddles, and a rosewood bridge. Oh yes, and It is nice and light, weighing in at around 3 pounds, 9 ounces according to my scale. The seller threw in a hard case that is uglier than sin on the outside, but quite beautiful on the inside. Bonus!

So, in my opinion, this Etude is a nicely made guitar with no weak points thanks to its solid materials and good craftsmanship. It sounds good and plays well with a sweet and balanced tone. It is has of impressive volume when played hard, and has a nice low-end. It is pleasant to play, and would be a great first guitar, which was my intention when I bought it. I usually try to keep a few nice starter guitars around to loan or sell to friends that are looking to get into playing their own music.

When it come to purchasing a La Patrie Etude, used is the only way to go. MSRP on these is a $524, with a street price of about $399 (with no case), but they sell all day long on the used market for $100 to $150, often with a hard case. It is hard to go wrong for that kind of money - if you get the chance, try one out for yourself!


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