GLISSENTAR VS MULTIAC
A shoot out between two of Godin’s fretless beauties.
The Glissentar is a fretless string instrument, the same scale and size as a conventional guitar.
In a similar vein to an Oud, it has eleven strings, comprising a single bass string and five courses of nylon strings tuned in unison.
US retail: $889 (October 2006)
The Multiac Nylon Fretless is a six string Nylon Guitar with Synth Access.
While it has a conventional jack output it also can feed synths and modellers via a 13 pin output.
US retail: $1349 (October 2006)
While many people will look at both instruments, which is the best for their style?
What we hope to do in this article is to point out the best advantages of both instruments and help define the areas they cover. Essentially if your question is; “Which Godin suits me best?” after reading this, we hope you will be able to make the best choice.
We already presume you have had time to read the reviews on Unfretted of the Glissentar and the Multiac Nylon Fretless both creations of Robert Godin, our deep thanks for his committment to the fretless persuasion.
One thing we wont be discussing is price. At this level it is an academic argument, you need the best instrument suited to your own talents, and if you are very well off, you can buy both!
The Technical Side
The Glissentar does win out with a very good LR Baggs bridge pickup, and acoustically the Glissentar does have the edge over the Multiac.
On the other hand the Multiac does have Synth access via the 13 pin connector. Which allows connection to all the wonderful Roland pedals, the GR20 and GR33, both MIDI controllers. There is also the VG88, VG99 guitar modellers, offering complete control over individual strings.
You might ask why isn’t the Glissentar equipped with synth access? Well dual string courses don’t sit well with synth access. You need a clean single string to convert to MIDI. Dual course strings can be slightly out of tune with each other, which is part of the positive sounds for a multi-stringed instrument. However I have since tested the Glissentar with a GK3A pickup and KR116 steel core nylon strings and it works fine, even when the dual strings are slightly out of tune with each other. So the dilemma is solved; if you want multiple string outputs from Glissentar you can explore the technical expansion possibilities of synth access.
I guess at this point we could divide into two camps; if you are a total tech head you need the Multiac, if you are hitched on acoustic peformance, the Glissentar is the choice.
The Glissentar Camp
If you’ve dropped in here you are likely to be a consummate performer, perhaps with a background in the Turkish tradition or even English Folk music. You may just like the full rich sound of those double string courses.
The Nylon Multiac Fretless Camp
Sitting round this campfire are quite a collection of musicians, classical guitarists taking their music to the next level, bedroom composers taking advantage of MIDI created sounds only possible with a fretless. There are also quite a few microtonalists.
I like the Glissentar for the full bodied sound of the multiple string courses, the way it is almost alive when you play it flat out, and yes you can hammer the whatsits out of it without worrying about it going out of tune and the response is still consistant despite this not being the best way to play a nylon strung instrument.
What’s more its great spotting the guitarists in your audience counting the pegs; one, two, three, four…. eleven! Yes eleven! As Fahreed Haque once said “Now my guitar goes up to ELEVEN!!!”
The Nylon Multiac was my first fretless guitar, and it gets used exclusively via the synth access port. As a base tool to drive MIDI patches it does exceptionally well. The tracking is excellent, much better than guitars I have fitted with GK2 and GK3 pickups.
For a quick example listen to my track Aunty Podian where the Godin Multiac Nylon takes the lead with a Piccolo patch on a GR20.
If I had to choose? Well it would be the Multiac Nylon if I’m twiddling and recording at home. If its off to a gig the Glissentar would be strapped over my shoulder.
Michael Vick on Glissentar
The Player’s Comments – Glissentar
I play the Glissentar because my background is from the classical oud. The Glissentar offers everything I ask for from a guitar scale oud. True amplified sound covering an accessabilty not found on the traditional instrument. – DT
The Glissentar is my prefered instrument as it combines the traditional dual string tones of many traditional folk instruments. Playing altered tunings and Irish jigs, the Glissentar can be quickly retuned and beats my steel 12 string hands down for tone and playability. – Les
As an atonal experimental musician the glissentar has opened new vistas of sound, the double string resonance is particularly suited to my style. – Evan
I have played both and bought the Glissentar, these days I mainly use the Glissentar with different open tunings. – Paul Shigihara
I like the strength of chords on the Glissentar and the ability to stop just one string of the pair, giving a jaw dropping experience to other guitarists. – Jahloon
I have played both, but don’t own either. For the point of view of a “conventional” guitarist, I found the Multiac to be easier to play (precise fretting for intonation is enough of an issue, and doing that if you’re not used to doubled strings is even tougher), but the Glissentar was ultimately more fun. It seemed to resonate more, and the wide neck felt quite nice in my hands (as I like them substantial). The doubled strings also sounded beefier and bigger. – Pawel
I have played neither, but the Glissentar is much more interesting to me. You can convert another guitar to be very similar to the multiac, but the Glissentar is a whole new instrument. Plus, from listening to recordings of both I would have to say that to my ears the Glissentar sounds more interesting – The Jim
I play both the Glissentar and the Oud. Although they share the stringing and the absence of frets, thats where the similarties end. Here for the differences:
– The Oud has a much shorter neck spanning a fifth in range until the body. Results in different phrasing.
– they both sound very different. An oud sounds unmistakenly like an…Oud. The glissentar, even clean, goes from nylon like sarodish, even sitarish to clean classical guitar sounds and fretless e-bass sounds. Very varied (it sometimes even sounds like a trombone, I kid you not!), but never even close to the typical warm woodiness of a good Oud. Once plugged in, well, you can add the whole lot of electric mumbo jumbo & distortion you want to the Glissentar. Due to feedback you can forget that on a standard miked Oud.
– sustain is much, much longer on the Glissentar
– the Glissentar is much easyer to play/learn
– I have yet to find a stand which fits an Oud
– Bottomline : Whilst being superior for intricate rythmic playing on single strings the Oud is much more restricted tonaly and melodically than the Glissentar.
Since I’ve got my Glissentar my Oud gathers dust. – Monosynapsis
I’ve recently acquired a Glissentar. I love it! Didn’t know how I was going to get on with it. I have an electric oud which I have spectacularly failed to master so it was a bit of a risk getting the Glissentar. However, although I expected it to take ages to feel in control and to intonate properly etc I have had no problems and got very comfortable with it in a couple of weeks.
It came tuned like a regular guitar but I tuned the top two courses up to F and C as I have no plans to play barre chords. Fourths all the way across the neck seemed more logical and I’ve got used to it quickly.
I really feel like I’ve been given a whole new voice on guitar and I can do things musically that I only dreamed of doing before. I love middle-eastern music and being able to play the “inbetween” notes is great. I love the ability to slide between notes and the sound I like the best is when it growls like a fretless bass. Only higher, of course! – Vince
Ratko Zjaca on Godin Nylon Fretless Multiac.
The Player’s Comments – Multiac Nylon
For me its the synth access – all of my work is with altered sounds and tones. The Multiac as a freely tuned instrument means I can slide trombone, sqeeze pitch on many MIDI based instruments and model tones that could not be possible on a fixed fretted or keyboard insrument. – Alex
I had heard about fretless guitar but wanted one with nylon strings. The Multiac offers amazing control, which I believe is not possible on a steel strung guitar, plus I have the sound I want, the Nylon sound. – Chris
As a stage performer I was looking for a classical fretless that I could play loud, amplified that is, and the Multiac gives me that. I would recommend an acoustic amp, the bridge pickup is perfect.- Neil
The Nylon Fretless gives you great control over the strings and the tone you can impart to individual notes, much more control than you can get using steel strings. – Cesar
It appears that the fingerboard has the standard electric string spacing and radius (correct if wrong), but even if they did a classical flat, wide board, it wouldn’t distract from the fact I’d miss the full size body. Not only for the proper nylon resonance experience, but I need it to support my frame and posture. I also like the ‘anticutaway’ too (the full size body), as this tells me when my little finger is at the octave when I batter my hand against the lower bought. If it came with a flat board, and some kind of moulded full size body adaptor, made from styrofoam, I’d lick my lips. – Gazza
Whichever you choose, you will be getting a damn fine instrument, hopefully we will have helped a little in the decision making process. In a way they are totally different instruments, the common bond being their similarity in looks and the bonus that they are both fretless.
Review – Jahloon
Footnote: In a parallel e-bay sale from a guitarist in Germany, the Glissentar made 481 Euros and the Multiac Nylon Fretless sold for 785 Euros. – October 2009