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Historically, Godin has always chosen to brand their acoustic guitars under alternate brand names such as Norman, Art & Lutherie, and Simon & Patrick. But the Godin name looks perfectly at home on the headstock, and it makes sense to use the name best known in the US on their acoustic guitars too. The Rialto JR shares many construction features with their A&L Roadhouse such as quarter-sawn spruce bracing, a compound curved top, reverse grain kerfed headstock, maple dowel fortified heel, and Graphtech nut, bridge pins and compensated saddle. The major differences are the glossy finish, Richlite composite fretboard -- which is visually and tonally similar to ebony -- and of course the Godin name up top.
Parlor guitars originated as cheap and portable guitars for the masses in the late 19th century. They found their way into all walks of music, but especially in the hands of bluesmen and troubadours who liked their cutting midrange voices, sparkling high end and comfortable size. As electronics are now the norm in acoustic guitars, almost any guitar can be "loud enough" and the parlor guitars have gained in popularity for easy playing and their punchy midrange
The construction of the Rialto JR follows the same formula as many mid-priced Godin acoustics. The top is solid pressure-tested Sitka Spruce and the back and sides are a special 3-part laminate of Wild Cherry. Spruce tops are the norm on acoustics for their bright snappy response, but Wild Cherry is an excellent alternative tone wood that combines the brightness of Maple, but with a less "dry" tone and more complexity. What a Parlor guitar lacks in deep bass response it makes up for in responsiveness. Parlor guitars have strong midrange voices that make them perfect song-writing companions for strummers and finger pickers alike. The small volume of air in the body "moves" very quickly, giving the Rialto a spunky attack and great response to picking technique. The volume and dynamic range won't compare to the likes of a dreadnought, but the Roadhouse voice cuts through the mix with great clarity.
The electronics on the Rialto Q-Discrete are both stylish and effective. For this one they dropped the cut-out panel entirely for a seamless body and a two-knob setup with volume and an active tone boost/cut. As primarily electric players, we really enjoy the ease of the layout and of course the unmistakable “Lennon look”. Tested through our Traynor AM Studio reinforced what we like about the Godin-family of parlor guitars: A pleasant immediacy that responds well to picking nuance, a detailed top end, and enough lows to keep it from sounding boxy or shallow.
The Godin Rialto JR makes a nice addition to their family of parlor guitars, and as stage instrument makes a striking visual statement. But it's still at a price point within reach for those who just want a stylish looking daily player. And as we've found, the compact and portable nature of the parlor guitar makes it a great songwriting muse that can go practically anywhere. Size does matter, but it's not always what you expect.