Godin Multiac:
a New Concept in MIDI Guitars

By William Edstrom

Yes, it's true! Sweetwater is selling guitars. But as you might guess, these are no ordinary guitars. The instruments you see pictured here are Godin Multiacs. So, what the heck is a Multiac? Well, for one, it's a terrific thin body acoustic electric with an innovative pickup system that makes it perfect for stage or studio. But here is the Sweetwater difference you've come to expect: it's also the best guitar synth controller available. It connects directly to any Roland GR1, GI10 or GR09, opening the world of MIDI to guitar players.

Now you may not have heard of Godin (pronounced "go-DAN") before, but the company has been making top-of-the-line guitars for other major guitar companies for over 15 years. They are now the largest single manufacturer of acoustic guitars in North America. Godin invested over two years of research and development into the Multiac. There are numerous technological firsts in this guitar, the most obvious being that it's available in both steel and nylon string versions. Previous guitar synth technology relied upon a magnetic pickup design that simply would not work with nylon strings. Thanks to Godin, classical players now have access to an enormous new palette of sounds.

I jumped at the chance to use the Godin Multiac for several days. I evaluated a steel-string Multiac with a beautiful natural finish. The body of the instrument is carved from a block of mahogany, inside of which are two acoustic chambers. The top is solid book-matched spruce and the sound holes and controls are on the upper corner near the neck (as you can see in the photo). The neck is also mahogany with an ebony fingerboard, twenty-two frets, and bolt-on construction. The action is very fast and light for an acoustic.

But probably the most unique feature of this guitar is the bridge. Each of the six strings has its own saddle that acts as a pickup. The six saddle pickups are used both for electrifying the guitar and for controlling a guitar synth. This integral hex pickup eliminates the need for a Roland GK-2 or GK-2A. Behind a cover plate located on the back is an easily replaceable 9-volt alkaline battery. The battery powers the internal preamp and EQ functions. The synth functions of the Multiac are powered by connection to a GR09, GI10 or GR1 synth module.

The guitar sounds great even before you plug it in. It has a very full tone considering that the body is only 2 1/4 inches thick. To test the pickup system, I connected the guitar directly into the console and listened through high quality, nearfield monitors. The clarity was exceptional and I had no problems at all with feedback even at high levels.

For a more critical test, I recorded several tracks to ADAT, and I was amazed when I started working with these tracks: the end result really sounded like a miked acoustic guitar, and the dynamic range was better than I have ever experienced from an acoustic pickup system. I also miked the guitar and recorded the live signal to one track while recording the direct sound to a second track. The live sound was brighter and a bit thinner than the direct sound. I panned these tracks hard left and right and got a superb stereo image.

You may be wondering what the various sliders and buttons do. The top slider is the volume, the middle three sliders control a three band EQ (high, mid and low frequencies), and the bottom slider is synth volume. There is a switch that sets the frequency of the mid EQ band to either 800Hz or 1200Hz. There are also two buttons that are used to select the sound on your synth module, but more on that in a second.

I had great results recording with the EQ controls set flat. The EQ is flexible enough to help you tailor the sound to your own individual style or to match up with your amp or PA for live applications. I also used the guitar through a full range keyboard amp and of course this worked great, too.

I then had the opportunity to play a Multiac as a controller for the Roland GR09. The guitar connects directly to the synth using a 13 pin cable and, as I said before, the Multiac does not need a GK2 or GK-2A pickup. So now you're probably asking the most critical question, "How well does it track?" I'm happy to report that you won't be disappointed. Tracking is, in a word, excellent. I experienced very little of the false triggering common in early generation guitar synths. Tracking delays were at a minimum on the low strings and virtually nonexistent on the high strings and up the neck. Since the analog signal is available on the 13-pin connector, you can mix the actual guitar sound with any synth sounds for some fantastic textures. Some of my favorite combinations were achieved by layering real guitar sounds with strings or synth pads.

But this is just the beginning. Right around the corner is the revolutionary new VG-8 V-Guitar System from Roland that literally stole the show at winter NAMM (see story above for more on the Roland VG-8). The Godin Multiac is the perfect guitar controller to use with this module!

Godin invested over two years in the development of this guitar, and the attention to details is obvious. For example, the contoured back allows access to the upper frets. The guitar is well balanced, and there are two strap buttons so you can easily wear this guitar during live performance. All Multiacs are available in high gloss natural or satin natural finish. The steel-string Mulitac is also available in high gloss black.

This guitar is a winner! It's not only the best guitar synth controller available, it's the best acoustic electric I have ever played. With a list price ranging from $1595 to $1745, the Godin Multiac is also an incredible value. Call your Sweetwater sales engineer today for more information and your special low price on the Godin Multiac and the Roland Guitar Synth Systems.