God City Instruments The Constructivist Guitar Review

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As an in-demand producer and member of the highly influential and long-time Converge, Kurt Ballou has put his sonic footprints all over heavy music. Over the past few years, he’s diversified his output and made his way into the instrument business, making God City Instruments—which shares a name with his recording studio in Salem, Massachusetts—a unique pedal maker. , microphones, DIY belonging to an artist. PCB for the brave tinkerer, and guitars and basses.

It’s no surprise that Ballou’s instruments are designed to produce the massive tones one expects from his records. But the visual aesthetic of GCI’s instruments includes playful, retro-inspired body styles and bright colors. Ballou’s latest releases are constructivist guitar and bass. It’s a model that sounds classic, but not too much, and is as solid as the riffs you’ll want to get to Salem and record once you get your hands on it. At $1,749, however, the Constructivist sits in a price category with heavy hitters, which might be hard to live with for an instrument built in Korea.

Retro looks and great function

Like GCI’s other offerings – the Craftsman and the Deconstructivist – the Constructivist wouldn’t look completely out of place in a ’60s Teisco catalogue. and classic. The six-saddle hardtail bridge reminds me a bit of a vintage Peavey T-60. And like that model – or at least what I remember one from – it’s a solid, comfortable place to launch a variety of picking attacks.

The Constructivist’s roasted maple bolt-on neck has a flat C-profile that makes it easy to grip. The satin polyurethane finish is impeccable. The playability feels a little stiff right out of the box, but you feel a good break-in period would make it more personal. Block inlays look great on the flat 12″-16″ compound radius of the rosewood fingerboard, providing easily accessible playability.

With a 25 1/2″ scale, medium jumbo frets, and setup for standard tuning with a .011 set (God City instruments typically come in D-standard tuning), it’s a riffing beast. I really clicked with the Constructivist when I got stuck on the lower end of its range, where I found plenty of resonant sustain at higher gain settings. Venturing past the 12th fret , the compound radius provides a nice, even playing field, even if it’s not as friendly as you might expect.

Creamy, cutting and more

Plugged directly into my Deluxe Reverb, the GCI P-90s deliver a fine, creamy sound. I was pleased to hear a wide frequency response from the neck and bridge pickups, both of which have lower on/off sliders that feel nice and tight, so there’s no chance of accidental switching. But the constructivist is not a bebop machine – hip as it might be for a guitar like this – and I’ve limited my clean playing to strums and open-chord arpeggios.

Constructivist sounds even better with a little dirt. I clicked between a few different boxes – a Klon KTR, an Analog Man King of Tone, and an EHX Ripped Speaker – where I spent most of my time. The bridge pickup cuts while keeping the body. On the low-end riffing, I found a nasal clarity, even dosed with gain. Up top I did my finest impression of Duane Denison looking for scathing sustained clusters, which seem very much in line with the GCI agenda, and they sounded garish enough to be mean, but clear enough to hear all the notes.

The neck pickup offers articulate clarity that doesn’t succumb to swamping. There’s enough brightness in this P-90 to sing through heavy doses of gain. But I spent most of my time with both mics, using each volume knob to create sounds. The dynamic response of these pickups seems to encourage the subtleties of picking, which illuminates the nuances found in the pickup mix. It’s something I rarely do on my own guitars, but on the Constructivist I was able to dial in the sound I wanted, adding body to the cut of high end leads and giving a little extra edge to the dark power chords.

The jugement

It’s no surprise that this guitar is a riff machine. Like much of Ballou’s musical oeuvre, it is sturdy, heavy-sounding, and aesthetically tight. Maybe that’s a fancy way of saying that if you love his music, chances are you’ll fall in love with this guitar.

But you will pay a high price to do so. At $1,749 street, the Constructivist is expensive for an instrument made in Korea. Again, God City uses a small batch store, rather than a full-scale contractor. Also, compound key radii require care to be correct. Plus, the attention to detail on this instrument is noticeable – it’s not something that just left the factory without a good overhaul. That said, I would expect the same quality from any home instrument in the same price range. Only time will tell if this is an early indicator of guitar prices to come, or if the constructivist is just pricey for a Korean import. My gut tells me that, at this price range, it will appeal most to players whose specific tastes really match Ballou’s. But it’s still a fun, well-built guitar.

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