Making the decision to spend more on a guitar for a better spec can be a murky subject for us players - will the gains of sound and playability justify the spend?
The variables in builds are huge but in the world of acoustic there’s a strong argument to be made that guitars built with solid-wood back and sides, rather than laminate ply, are worth spending extra on.
Most acoustic tops now tend to be made of solid wood (and they should be) but the main advantages of guitars with solid wood backs and sides too are that they tend to resonate better. And that this only improves over time as the wood ages. It’s not a simple matter of solid being better than laminate though; there are great examples of both, and laminate wood tends to withstand changes in temperature better. But there’s another vital factor too: bracing.
Which is where this Seagull flies in. For its £869, it offers solid construction built in Canada, and with Adirondack spruce bracing. The material choice and shape of an acoustic’s internal bracing has a direct impact on tone and Adirondack spruce is usually found on high-end acoustics - hence the price. So what does it add up to?
Seagull is a Godin brand, like Art & Lutherie; it’s still under the radar but the reputation for quality is built on consistency. And that’s certainly here: well-finished with satin neck, back and sides and nicely polished gloss top with a quality we’d expect at this price.
The advantage of using Adirondack over Sitka spruce bracing on the soundboard is claimed by Seagull to provide greater strength to allow improved response and vibration. This is due to its stiffness. To our ears, this guitar has sparkle with an airy and bright tonality that responds well to a light touch. The lows feel typical for a mahogany/spruce build: balanced but not boomy, allowing the springy mids to ring out in arpeggio work.
The guitar uses Godin’s own Q1T system and the brightness unsurprisingly transfers into the electro experience. But as a piezo system it has a tough task to trump Taylor’s Expression System and the tone shaping of Yamaha SRT2 in this price range, offering more of a standard undersaddle tonality than their more detailed experiences, which can inject back some woodier organic qualities.
The build spec and playability of this guitar is impressive and adds up to a pleasing unplugged experience. There’s a sweetness here that’s undeniable. And though the surprising lack of any gigbag is hard to forgive at this price point, the guitar quality here means Seagull could be perched on your candidate list with the bigger names if you’re looking to invest.