As a guitarist, I’ve always been intrigued by different stringed instruments from around the world. The Oud holds a special place in my heart because of its sound. It’s a middle eastern short scaled instrument with a very staccato sound and one that’s foremost associated with Arabic music and sounds. It’s rather large bowl-shaped body coupled with its short fretless scale gives it a unique look. Sometime back Godin introduced a line of fretless and fretted world instruments to appeal to a larger audience. This included the MultiUke, MultiOud, Cavaquinho, Inuk, the A8, the A10 and the A11 (Glissentar) instruments. A great mix of offerings to suit a variety of palettes. The MultiOud was offered in both Nylon string and Steel String version. The instrument I reviewed was steel strung.
Two-chambered mahogany body
Solid spruce top
Ebony fingerboard & bridge
Custom machine heads
24″ (609.6mm) fingerboard radius
23.03″ (585mm) scale
1.6 ” (40.64mm) nut width
Custom-voiced Fishman Aura Pro electronics with bridge and microphone options
Built-in chromatic tuner
It is comfortable! Both from an ergonomics and familiarity point of view for a guitarist. I have owned and played a traditional Oud before and I had a challenging time adjusting to the deep bowl of the body and the constantly slipping pegs which threw the instrument out of tune.
The Godin Multioud is curved to sit easily and flush against the body of the player. The fretboard is very comfortable to grip and play. The deep single cutaway allows one access to the higher registers of the fretboard without issues.
The MultiOud comes in a custom Godin case with great padding and extra strings. The case is certainly gig worthy and can take a few bumps without hurting the instrument.
The inbuilt chromatic tuner makes it a breeze to tune the instrument. The mechanical tuners are a welcome change from the wooden pegs as the instrument holds its tuning without issues. The onboard electronics also feature a Volume control and a simple EQ consisting of Treble and Bass knobs. Don’t let the simplicity of this layout deceive you of its impact when mixing and controlling the tone. Another highlight is that the input jack is co-located with the guitar strap peg.
Aesthetically, the Multioud is a stand out instrument. Its exotic look certainly draws attention on stage.
I had to first get used to the Risha or the plectrum for the Oud. It’s a long slender pick which comes in various materials and points. One can order traditional cowhorn, plastic or some synthetic material pick with a choice of a rounded tip or a sharp one. I found the plastic sharp tipped ones work best for me. The picks are relatively cheap on Ebay and Etsy. After a day of use, I found the Risha far more comfortable than using a guitar pick on the MultiOud. It felt natural and I was able to execute simple lines and some basic tremolo picking.
I first tested the instrument acoustically. The chambered body and its resonation chamber give it a loud and faithful punchy sound. One would not have to plug this instrument in for practice at home or even small events. Once plugged in, this instrument can be quite customizable. The onboard electronics offer quite a few tonal variations. I plugged it through my guitar pedalboard and utilized the delay and echoes for long ambient and cinematic sounds. Anyone who has watched a movie with the middle eastern cinematic shots, will instantly recognize the eerie and haunting sound an oud makes with long tailed delays and reverbs.
Kicking in an overdrive elicits quite a remarkable response! The bite is even more pronounced and it lends itself very well to sound design projects and experimental music. This is the one aspect of Godin’s innovation that I love. They’ve enabled a lot of western musicians to take instruments which were less accessible and then push the boundaries of sound. Tradition and dogma aside, I am always captivated when someone finds a new way to assimilate a sound from an instrument into their genre. The universe of fusion music is always growing and it’s wonderful to see what people are doing with more traditional instruments in newer settings.
This is a fretless short scaled instrument, so the approach and fingering is greatly changed. I’ve done a review of the Fernandes Fretless Retrorocket, which is a standard fretless guitar. Even though the Retrorocket is a fretless instrument, it’s relatively (and I use this generously) easy to transition to the fretless guitar from a standard one.
The MultiOud is not an easy transition from a guitar. With its short scale and no markings, one must spend quite some time to relearn fingerings and positioning. It’s easy to run to the exotic sounding Harmonic Minor and execute some runs, but this is an instrument all to itself and approaching it from purely a guitar perspective, is doing you and the instrument a great disservice. There are some great tutorials from Udemy and on Youtube that are aimed for guitarists who are looking to learn the Oud and have basic understanding of guitar scales and fingerings. Personally, these helped me get familiar with the instrument rather quickly.
If you are a guitarist who is looking to try out an oud, I cannot recommend the Godin Multioud highly enough. Price wise, these Godin pieces show up on Reverb and Ebay used for a sub $500 price range. This is a fantastic deal, given the doors it opens, and the new sounds one can coax from the instrument. If you’re a fan of ethnic music, ethno-fusion and world music, you do owe it to yourself to check out the wide array of instruments Godin offers.
The only downside of the instrument I foresee is limited availability and production. The Nylon version of the MultiOud is still in circulation, however, the Steel String version has become rare and is not featured on their site for purchase anymore.
…ends – Review by Rahul Mukerji – July 2017
Rahul Mukerji – Profile
Rahul is a musician based in Maryland. Born in India, he has been performing live for over fifteen years. He has had a varied performing career that has included stints in Chicago, Boston, Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C. and India.
Rahul has been featured on a wide array of recordings. His pieces were featured in a movie in Singapore. His music was also featured on the DC local Tri-state Radio. In 2012, his music was featured in various animations and was used as the official score for the Fractal Forums web episodes.
Rahul was featured in Guitar Player magazine in Editors Picks and people to watch in 2008. He is also a guest Guitar Instructor on the Shred Academy website.
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