Folk-sized Canadian chic meets the watchful eye of wordsmith David Mead…
Simon & Patrick acoustic guitars are made in LaPatrie, Quebec, Canada under the watchful eye of parent company Godin. We’re told that the small dedicated team that builds them employ several factors which are unique, including pressure tested tops and an integrated set neck system which adds extra strength to the neck joint, resulting in less sensitivity to climatic conditions. This particular guitar is from the company’s Songsmith range, which includes both dreadnought and folk body sizes.
It’s the latter body size from the range that we’re looking at here and, as the term ‘”folk size” is perhaps a little vague, I’m going to wield my tape measure once more in the interests of precision. With an upper bout of 283mm, a lower of 375mm, a waist of 240mm and a depth 114mm, we’re in the OM/00 neck of the woods. It’s a good looking instrument and there’s a distinct vintage vibe going on with the sunburst finish, too.
The Simon & Patrick website goes to some lengths to feature their pressure tested tops where each is inspected for stiffness in order to produce the correct level of vibration and, hence, tone. The spruce top here has been submerged under the finish to a great extent, but what remains visible looks to be a very workmanlike piece or timber, giving off an almost 3D effect when held to the light. Underneath, the bracing is Adirondack spruce to further enhance tonal response and projection.
Back and sides are a three layer laminate of red wild cherry – not a wildly exciting wood to the eye, with a distinct lack of rampant flourishes to the grain and I’m not so sure that the matt finish (or “semi-gloss” as the specs would have it) does it any favours. I would have thought that high gloss would have given it a more luxurious sheen. But, naturally, it’s functionality that counts and so we’ll see what happens when I subject the guitar to a few tunes later on.
The three-piece neck of the Songsmith has a separate heel and scarfed headstock joint and is made from silver maple, a hardwood from the North Eastern United States and, I suspect, Canada, too. It gets its name from the silvery appearance of the underside of the leaves, in case you’re interested, and its use here is primarily for stiffness and stability. Maple has an enduring reputation for providing strong necks on Fender electric guitars and so I don’t doubt its ability to do the same sort of great job here.
The tuners have the appearance of Grovers from the front, but have no identifying marks on them whatsoever and so I can’t be sure of the make. They are 14:1 ratio to ensure fine-tuning is as accurate and trouble-free as can be, which is always good to know!
A Tusq nut sits atop the fretboard and I can see that it might have been cut a tad too high on the bass side. This isn’t much of a problem, and we’re only talking 1mm or so at the most, but I’d probably want it shaved a bit, personally.
The Songsmith’s 16″ radiused fretboard is Indian rosewood with 19 frets and circular pearloid position markers to the face. The bridge, too, is rosewood with a compensated Tusq string saddle in its midst. So far, so good – let’s hear what kind of song the instrument sings…
The neck profile is comfortable in the hand, feeling like a slim C. It’s finished in matt lacquer which is silky smooth under the hand with no discernible drag factor at all.
The first few chords that I played showed that there’s certainly no lack of volume here, despite the modest body size. There’s an even balance across the trebles and basses, too, with a good amount of brightness and clarity overall. There’s a capable range of tones available, too; play near the bridge for snap and bark or near the fretboard for a more subtle, rounded timbre.
All Simon & Patrick acoustics are shorter scale – more the Gibson end of the spectrum than the Fender, if you see what I mean – although I must admit that this wasn’t something I was as aware of as much as I am on some guitars. In essence, string bending should be a mite easier and whereas a set of .012s might feel quite cumbersome on some guitars, here they feel a little lighter.
So, tonally speaking, there’s bags going on with this guitar. I tried a number of different styles and approaches, including my usual adventures in drop tuning, and the Songsmith came up trumps every time. Simon & Patrick will factory fit a B Band A3T pickup as an optional extra and I would imagine that this would transfer the guitar’s snarl and charm to the electronic arena admirably!
Many of the guitars I’m seeing these days that fall within this guitar’s price bracket come from China or Eastern Europe and so Simon & Patrick are operating in a highly competitive market. However, I think that the Songsmith holds its own against the competition very well. As with everything, there are deals to be had out there, especially on the internet, and so our recommended retail price is really only here as a guide. But anyone who is searching for a good tone in the lower midrange acoustic guitar market would be well advised to check out the Songsmith as it has some serious virtues – and it sings sweetly, too!
Pros: A Canadian-built acoustic with a great sound at a reasonable price
Cons: Just a smidge off the nut at the lower end, please!
Overall: Simon & Patrick prove once again that they can produce serious contenders at lower midrange prices
Manufacturer: Simon & Patrick
Model: Songsmith Folk
Retail Price: £399
Body Size: Folk
Made In: Canada
Back and Sides: Red wild cherry
Neck: Silver leaf maple
Fingerboard: Indian rosewood
Tuners: 14:1 ratio chrome die cast
Nut Width: 43mm
Scale Length: 631mm
Onboard Electronics: Optional – B Band A3T (+ £100)
Strings Fitted: Godin A6 LT: .012 – .053
Left Handers: No
Gig Bag/Case Included: Optional TRIC case