GUITAR
ACQUISITION
SYNDROME

Art Lutherie Cedar


 
Handcrafted in the village of La Patrie, Quebec using 95% Canadian woods!

Specs
Back & Sides : Wild Cherry
Neck : Silver leaf maple
Top : Cedar (Pressure Tested Solid Top)
Fingerboard & Bridge : Rosewood
Finish : Semi-Gloss Custom Varnish Finish
Tusq® nut & saddle by Graphtech




It had been awhile since I scoured a local flea market looking for a bargain. I'm sure you could share a story of the one that was purchased for next to nothing at a garage sale or flea market. Some were undoubtedly sold to fund a new acquisition and others still part of your collection. I was never one to frequent flea markets or garage sales so I missed out on the hey day prior to eBay. Although the flea market and garage sale are still a fixture in America, eBay has provided an alternative especially for items of greater value or interest. Many of the vendors I've talked with are savvy enough to know an amp with tubes will fetch more than one without. The internet has provided a resource to identify and understand the value of an item especially guitars. This has reduced the number of vintage finds or contemporary bargains you'll find on the tables.

Anyway, back to the flea market. The Arbor Flea Market is a local outdoor market set up in a large empty lot adjacent to a firehouse. Not too large but the emphasis is on used merchandise and not all the new or knock off merchandise found at so many others. I've never found a vintage treasure but over the past few years several instruments including a nice banjo were "procured" at a bargain price. Today was going to be one of those days.

I was up and out the door before 7am since that was the time the gates opened to let the vendors in to set up their tables. The parade of vechicles were ushered in quickly and directed to numbered spaces. Doors of mostly older vans and SUVs opened and that week's finds were set out for sale. I don't need to tell you that there are a lot of us who show up looking for two things...guitars and tube amps! Coffee in hand I marched into the market just as the vendors were starting to set up. I had planned to start at the begining and walk the rows however on the way on the end of a row was a bunch of gig bags and hardcases. I thought," BINGO"!

Typically pickens have always been slim with just the standard Chinese made nylon string classicals, beat up cheapo Strat copies and the ocassional asian made solidbody or acoustic guitars. The older woman unloading the rusting van watched me as I stared at the pile of guitars, violins and horns. Another buyer arrived also eager to see what was inside those cases and gig bags. She indicated the owner was parking the car and would be right back. I took the opportunity to do a quick walk through a few aisles as did the other buyer. A classical guitar, a Strat Squier someone decided to age with green paint (it didn't work!) and a small Peavy amp so I was back at the original spot.

The owner had returned and was just starting to put out the guitars. No one else around so I was going to get first shot. I started chatting with the seller who knew enough about guitars and amps to be dangerous! LOL First out was a Strat copy (of course!) along with a Jay Turser Tele copy that looked new. A red Dean with an Explorer style body and signature V headstock design followed by a 3/4 no name electric and of course, a Chinese made classical guitar. Two nice gig bags and a hardshell case was left so there was still hope. He mentioned an acoustic guitar with cedar top which made pause and ask, "which one"? The hardshell case was then opened on the ground to reveal this month's G.A.S. Attack, a Art & Lutherie (A&L) Cedar.

Now what is really strange is that just a few days before I had purchased a used Simon & Patrick (S&P) Woodland Mini Jumbo which, like Art & Lutherie, is one of the Godin family. If I had only known I was going to stumble onto this one I would have held off purchasing the S&P. Of course I can't complain since the Cedar's final price was all of $60. Of course that included the hardshell case. By the way, the two gig bags held Fender and Yamaha cutaway acoustics both of which were entry level but in excellent condition. I passed but by the time I left he already had several interested customers.

Now the Cedar was not without a few cosmetic flaws in the form of several very tight top cracks, a few nicks/dings and a loose brace. The decorative cutouts were ill planned as they weakened the cedar. They become the source of two top crqcks similar to those commonly found around f-holes on vintage archtop guitars. The back and sides of 3 ply laminated Canadian wild cherry are exceptionally clean and crack free. The headstock logo, label and cutouts are not found on the current Cedar model which makes me think this was perhaps pre-Godin. Is that a good thing? I started playing her and the decision became easy. Not much haggling as the vendor was up front about the top cracks and knew it needed the right buyer....me!

Godin expanded into acoustic guitars by purchasing several shops in small Canadian villages. Art & Lutherie, Simon & Patrick and Norman all became part of the Godin family offering a variety of body styles and tone woods including traditional spruce tops. With an emphasis on "eco-friendly Candian wood", they offer an attractive alternative to the plethora of asian manufactured instruments in this price range. The current Cedar, built in La Patrie, Quebec, has a street price of $325 (without a case) with used examples running around $200 which makes them very affordable.

I called the wife to let her know I had picked up bagels and was on my way home with a flea market find. She was impressed when I opened the case and couldn't believe the price. I had to point out the top cracks but she agreed the wild cherry and light finish made for a very attractive guitar. Although I could have played her all day, repair was already on my mind so off came the strings. Fortunately the cracks were very tight and almost invisible so this wasn't going to be too tough. Cedar, being a soft wood, tends to give you a warmer tone than spruce. It also ages at a more rapid pace opening up the guitar earlier than a comparable spruce model. Very tight grained, the effects of humidity or in this case dryness, caused the top cracks. One brace had also come loose so with some Tite Bond glue, a few cleats and clamps she was ready to go!

I've owned quite a few Godin guitars especially during my guitar synth phase. They offer 13 pin synth access on many of their models. I always enjoyed the feel of their Silver Leaf Maple necks and they tended to be fast with a nice profile. I started looking for an acoustic manufactured outside of Asia but didn't want to spend more than $300 so my choices were very limited. Research lead me to S&P and their Woodland Series. Like the A&L it also has a cedar top and wild cherry back/sides, I ended up purchasing a used mini jumbo with a case on eBay for $269. Now with the addition of the A&L I ended up with both a dreadnaught and mini jumbo body styles for about $325 including hardshell cases. Not too shabby!

The Cedar has already found its home next to my recliner replacing my Republic Mini Duolian. No buzzes, low action, dead on intonation makes this the best $60 I've spent in quite some time. Having previously owned a Washburn Augusta D34 CETS with a cedar top I wanted a similar tone but without all the flash. The use of the wild cherry verses the maple of the Augusta is where this one takes on a tone of its own. Smooth, bright and responsive, she's an easy player that I won't whine about when those nicks and dings occur. I'm looking very forward to the arrival of the S&P Woodland Mini Jumbo and the increased volume. 


 

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