Looking for an eye-catching parlor guitar under $500? Try the Roadhouse Q-Discrete from Canadian guitar builder Art & Lutherie. A division of Godin Guitars, Art & Lutherie crafts its instruments in the small town of Princeville, Québec, using all Canadian woods.
A&L’s Roadhouse series of parlor-size guitars is inspired by compact “blues box” instruments that were the frequent traveling companions of bygone blues legends. These guitars often had a meaty sound for such a small size, and the Roadhouse Q-Discrete continues that tradition with a fairly full acoustic voice and an even livelier sound when plugged in. Its Q-Discrete preamp brings the Roadhouse to life with shimmering overtones and full lows.
I didn’t hop on any freight trains, but I certainly enjoyed toting the Q-Discrete around town with its modest weight, petite profile, and comfy gig bag. Wherever I roamed, the instrument’s aesthetic garnered praise. With its denim-blue finish and amber Les Paul-style top-hat volume and tone knobs built into the top, the Q-Discrete definitely has a unique look that catches people’s attention.
I kind of liked how it matched my jeans, both in color and in the way the stain settled into the wood grain, in ripples on the solid spruce top and long, clear grain lines on the wild cherry sides and back. The shapely white pearlescent pickguard adds a nice contrasting touch, along with the deep hues of the chocolate-colored binding, rosewood bridge and fingerboard, and maple neck. The small, straight headstock adds to the overall vintage vibe, as do the brass tuning machines and white keys.
Acoustically, the Roadhouse Q-Discrete didn’t sound huge, but it was big enough to hang in a multi-guitar jam. It has a natural richness in the mids and lows, while conveying shimmering high-end overtones. Its natural voice blended sweetly when strummed, then stood out with a distinctive solo voice. The Q-Discrete’s sonic strength really comes through when amplified. It has an even feel across the spectrum, from resonant lows to radiant highs, nicely tamed or unleashed by the tone knob.
The A&L Roadhouse Q-Discrete is an affordable, comfortable grab-and-go guitar that feels and sounds great. As for the first song you should play on it, how about “Forever in Blue Jeans”?
BODY Solid spruce top with laminated wild cherry back and sides
NECK 24.84″-scale silver leaf maple neck with 20-fret rosewood fingerboard; 1.72″ GraphTech Tusq nut
ELECTRONICS Q-Discrete preamp with top-mounted volume and tone controls
OTHER Gig bag included
PRICE $479 (MAP)
MADE IN Canada
This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.
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