Do We Like Gulid Acoustic Guitars?

Geoff738

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Guild makes lovely acoustics. And some fine electrics too.

Cheers,
Geoff
 

Beachbum

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I bought my 72 Guild Westerly D40 just after I got out of the Navy and it was my #1 acoustic for all of these years until I recently gifted it to my very talented Grand Daughter. I replaced it with a new Chinese solid wood Guild Westerly D140CE and China or no China all I can say is that I'm as happy as I ever was and I don't feel like I'm missing a thing.

72 D40
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D140CE
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rze99

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I have a Guild D4 NT from I think 1990. Westerly made. It’s lovely. Very loud. Really projects. I didn’t realise how loud it was until I briefly joined a fun folk thing and had to step back the right hand a bit because all every could hear was me.
 

Crafty Fox

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I've got an old D55 from the early 70's.
My long suffering guitar buddy got me into Guilds after he bought a D25 (I think?) in the late 80's. I acquired mine soon after and we both still have, and play them. We won't part with them either....magnificent guitars.
I would love to get a CE100D someday.
 

mike stanger

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Their 12 string guitars, especially early ones (60s-70s) distinguished themselves as good instruments.
They’re kind of “also ran” guitars, otherwise, IMO.
They were often easy playing, but not often great sounding guitars.
Modern ones aren’t particularly impressive, IMO.
That's often the impression a lot of folks have.
I sometimes thought so too.
But I've owned 2 Guilds, over 50 years apart, and both are very good guitars.

The second is Guild's top model, an Artist Award model, and my most recent purchase. It's an arch top, and it's impeccable in it's details and tonality.
I first saw an Artist Award in 1969 in a local small music store. At the time, I owed a Martin D-28, Martin's top model of the time, and one that was very expensive. When I played that AA, I thought it was the only guitar I would ever need as a working musician, but it cost twice as much as my Martin, so I passed.
But I never forgot it, so when mine became available at a good friend's guitar shop, I snapped it up. It's still the most expensive guitar I've ever owned, but compared to it's equivalent Gibson, it was a lot more bang for a lot less money.

Ren Ferguson is an old friend. He was my boss when I worked for Gibson in their Montana acoustic shop, and after he retired from it, he was hired by Fender to go to Guild and overhaul the production in their old factory.

We talked frequently at that time, and he said the guitars didn't need any improvement at all, but the production problems were so serious as to be insurmountable for him. That led to Fender's decision to close the old Guild factory and move Guild to California, where Fender eventually sold Guild to a smaller company.

I recently asked him why Guild never gained a lasting reputation for tone quality, especially when Gibson was notorious for it's ups and downs in that regard.
Ren believes most of it came from 2 factors: Guild was always much smaller than Martin, Gibson, and Gretsch, and was a younger company that was based in New York.
Guild was an extremely popular brand on the East Coast, but wasn't ever as popular in the South and West, where it had fewer distributors. It never advertised as much, and relied more on word of mouth than tradition.

The second factor was Guild's pricing. It's founder, Albert Dronge, a New York guy who was a player turned industrialist, set his prices in-between the big mass-produced companies and the older famous brands intentionally. His goal was to make a guitar for the working professionals at a price that wouldn't make them sacrifice their living to own. Durability and good sound at a middling price. A guitar that was ready to go to work 5 nights a week reliably with no fuss.

Dronge really succeeded, too. Guild started in 1953, with a really good small crew of experienced builders who were mostly former Epiphone workers. When Epiphone was sold to Gibson, they didn't want to move to Kalamazoo.
But Dronge died young in a plane crash, and over time, Guild's quality did wobble up and down after he was gone.
The 1970s was a rough time for all the acoustic makers; Martin and Gibson both had real quality problems, mostly labor troubles, and so did Guild. It was a time when acoustic demand was high, so they all tried to churn out guitars that were quickly sold, but not as high-quality as in earlier times.

By the 80s, that all changed for them all. Once the Japanese cornered the low end of the market, all the American manufacturers began concentrating on quality instead of price. But Guild still remained in the middle of that, and only one of their models was always priced almost as high as Gibson, their main competitor.
But those guitars were always the hardest to find and to sell to a steadily shrinking bunch of players, mostly jazz musicians.

My own opinions changed a lot over this year about the brand.
After a lot of internet searching, I discovered Guilds, especially their 12-strings, arch tops, and their mid-level flat tops, were played by tons of famous musicians. Jazz, rock, blues, soul, funk, country, pop- The Rolling Stones, Clapton, Johnny Cash, George Benson, the BeeGees, Merle Travis, Mississippi John Hurt, and more all took Guilds on the road.
Some American classical guitarists used them in concert, as Guild made an extensive line of classical guitars.

Guilds always seems to have hit the mark, but has never gotten the recognition it deserves.
But the brand has a highly loyal and large base of aficionados and collectors who absolutely love them.

To the OP:
There's no tonal difference at all between a natural finish and a sunburst. I've sprayed at least 3,000 of both, and the only difference is the color.
I've never let the brand name rule my choices. I own (or owned) guitars that are Ibanez, Guild, Martin, Epiphone, Gibson, Fender, Conde Hermanos (Spanish-made), and 2 from local guys who make a few guitars.

I've never purchased a guitar as an investment or as an object to be admired. I only buy them to play them, and I still play all of them regularly. After playing for 60 years, I have a very clear picture of what I want in a guitar, and I've never purchased one that didn't fit my expectations when it was new.

Some of my earlier buys failed over time to meet those expectations, but that was due to me and my abilities as a player much more than the guitar. And some of my oldest buys have never let me down,ever. One is now on it's 3rd set of frets, has a second set of tuners, and both the saddle and nut have been replaced twice.

My advice to the OP is... go with your heart. If a Guild rings your bell when it's new, it will only get better for years to come for you.
...and for me, shooting high always turned out much better for me than lowering my sights and accepting something lower. Take your time, play a lot of different guitars, and if one is a bit too expensive, don't let the price rule your decision. Go for the best combination of sound, playability and price you can find.

Every guitar is only a musical tool. Don't let glamor carry you away and go find the sound you know you can use the most, and will make you the happiest. That's the guitar you'll pick up to play 30 years from now.
regards,
stanger
 

Charlie Bernstein

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Hi, Jupiter!

Good opinions above. Here's mine:

First: I haven't read all the responses above, but just in case no one has mentioned it yet, there's a very friendly Guild forum:

www.letstalkguild.com

Like our brothers and sisters here at TDPRI, the folks there know their stuff and welcome anyone with an interest in Guilds. If you're trying to pick a model, they'll be a big help. Be sure to mention your budget and what kind of music you like to play.

I've liked the two Guilds I've had a lot more than any of the Martins and Gibsons I've owned. The one pictured below, a '76 Westerly-era D-35, is the love of my life.

That doesn't mean Guilds are better. There's no such thing. "Better" is an opinion, not a feature. It just means that I like them more.

Why? Guilds are to acoustics what Teles are to electrics: loud, aggressive, with a scooped twang and snarl, but also highly responsive to a light touch. Either you dig it or you don't. I dig it, like I dig my Tele.

I don't know your budget, but if your folks can spring for a USA-made Guild, that's certainly what you should shoot for.

As for finish, natural and sunburst sound exactly the same. You can't hear color. Different woods do have different sounds, so it helps to know whether you prefer your backs and sides to be mahogany, maple, or rosewood.

One nice thing about Guilds is that, unlike Martins, Fenders, and Gibsons, there are no bad eras. Designs have changed over the years, but unlike the big three, there's never been a period when Guild was cranking out lemons.

As mentioned above, lots of the greats have favored Guilds. Folks as different musically as Bob Marley and Utah Phillips have been big Guild fans. My own Guild heroes are Long John Baldry, Mississippi John Hurt, and Richie Havens.

So happy hunting. Let us know what you get! (and remember that it isn't real until you post a picture!)

Now here's me with my trusty D-35:

yazoo-chaz.png

A
 
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63telemaster

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I've always liked the idea of Guilds but have been put off by my experiences with them.

Maybe I've just been very unlucky but all of the used examples I've come across which are over 20 years old (maybe 30 or so) have had age related structural issues that need work to get them playable. These issues have mostly been excessive bulging behind the bridge and/or dips around the soundhole area to some extent. Yes, I realise that these guitars are in the age zone for resets but I've hardly ever seen this in similarly aged Martins, for example. Maybe it's just the bad ones that are finding their way onto the used market and owners are holding on to their good ones or maybe as I said, just luck.

Having said that, I've played new models recently from both USA and China that straight off the shelf were consistently very good.
 

naveed211

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Yes! They’ve always been my favorite acoustics.

I’ve owned an F40, JF55, JF30, D40C…maybe one or two others I can’t think of right now.

I recently was killing some time at GC and played a bunch of acoustics. Was really impressed with higher end Martin and Taylor, then I saw they had a newer Guild F40. And it blew me away from the first strum.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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. . . Maybe I've just been very unlucky but all of the used examples I've come across which are over 20 years old (maybe 30 or so) have had age related structural issues that need work to get them playable. These issues have mostly been excessive bulging behind the bridge and/or dips around the soundhole area to some extent. . . .
Could well be. Chalk it up to bad luck of the draw. Guild tops aren't flimsy.

The buckling you're describing can happen with any flattop with a solid wood top. It's usually caused by years bearing a heavy string load. I've seen Gibson and Martin tops that looked like potato chips.

That's why Martin stopped guaranteeing guitars if the owners — usually bluegrass players — used heavy strings. Tops just won't last that way, but musicians were demanding repairs. And it's hard to repair a buckled top.

That's not to say Guilds are perfect. No brand is. Again, the best place to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of Guilds is www.letstalkguild.com.
 

jageya

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there was a bunch of guilt i tried at gc yesterday and was not impressed..bery flat and midrange heavy with no sparkle..
 

Joe27

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94 D4-E NT archback is an amazing player.
 

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Yearofthecat

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I have heard many, many good things about Guild acoustic guitars and thought I might need some help.

A lot of them are very very expensive, but some of the cheapest I have seen are somewhere between $400 and $600. That's a decent enough price.

Martin and Ovation also make some pretty good 12 string acoustic guitars. Guild is also pretty good on basses, electric guitars and acoustic 12 string guitars.
I just love the shimmering, shimmering sound of 12 strings. The strings harmonize very well. Very flatwound sounding strings.

Part of the reason why I want a Guild 12 string acoustic is because Roger Hodgson of Supertramp uses them on his solo tours. He must really like Guild instruments. Tom Petty, Peter Cetera, David Gilmour and Stevie Ray Vaughan also used to play Guild back when they had 12 string guitars.

I currently own a First Act Acoustic guitar (which has 2 strings broken off of it, so I guess it can now be converted to a 4 string acoustic tenor guitar.)
I also own a natural finish Epiphone J200 acoustic guitar that I received from my mother as a Christmas present. My friend Ben also owns an Epiphone J200 acoustic guitar. I've heard that Guild acoustic guitars are better played with a natural finish, but I have also seen black and sunburst colored guitars.

If you agree that I should ask my parents for a Guild acoustic guitar for Christmas, please let me know. I have an acoustic amp. A few instrument stores in my city carry Guild guitars. I really wish that Fender still owned the rights to the Guild brand, because I thought that Fender did a pretty good job distributing the sales of Guild guitars. And Guild 12 strings are less expensive than Guild 6 strings.

And if you have any pictures of a Guild guitar, I'd like to see them.
IMG_1680.jpg


Hi there, a 12-string and a Troubadour.

Right before I got married, I decided I want to perform the 'Wedding Song' (by Paul Stookey) in the reception with my buddy, who was the lead singer in the band we played in during University. The song is always played on a 12-string, so I rushed out to my regular, big, guitar store and tried all the 12-strings they had. I was prepared to spend up to $5,000 (C$), and I was quite disappointed that the Martins and the Taylors all sounded just so so (now I know maybe the strings need to be changed) and they are quite difficult to play. It came down to the last, ugly one (I wasn't used to solid mahogany and vertical grains), but it played like a charm. It didn't sound better, but also not worse than the Martins and the Taylors. I was shocked to find out it only costed $700 and it was made in China. Having no choice, I bought it and I have been loving it ever since. I understand MIC guitars are looked down upon by some because of quality control; and it is true. But every once in a while, you will find one that is just made for you. (Actually you can't 'find' one, it will take too long. You have to 'bump' into one) Now, a solid mahogany 12-string would cost much more if it is made elsewhere. So, why not. In any case, it is the only one that I love to play. It sounds awesome (not from me, but from unsolicited comments during performances and jams)

The 6-strong I 'bumped' into it while picking up the 1960 Martin mandolin (top right, a gem). It was a no brainer but I was also looking to buy a Taylor that was on sale for just below $4,000. Strangely, it did not impress me at all. So, I asked to try others...other Taylors, Martins and none of them impressed me. I was about to leave with the mandolin but there is this little Guild 6-string Troubadour (the smallest body type) sitting there on consignment. I wasn't going to buy a small body (I was naive and ignorant and thought that acoustic guitars need to be big - dreadnoughts - to have the big sound), used guitar. I picked it up anyway and started playing Mark Knopfler's 'Going Home' on it. The projection, sustain and rich overtones blew me away. So, of course I bought it (only $450). I found out it was also MIC, and later learnt that it has a solid spruce top, which explains the tone. Troubadours are of course for finger style playing (as in 'Going Home') and the guitar actually 'taught' me how to play. I can't put it down. David Crosby once said, to get good at it, get a guitar that sounds good and easy to play. The result is then you play a lot and that is how you get to be good. ( I am far from good, but getting better...)

A member said earlier "I’ve never had to resort to MIC for a guitar and I see no reason to start now.". He also quoted Einstein that "
Blind respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth - Albert Einstein"

So, there you go. keep an open mind.

My other guitars are: Epiphone dot (MIC, big fat tone). Telecaster '52 Reissue (1982 MIJ). Stratocaster 2012 MIA. PRS Soapbar (MIA). 1977 Ibanez (LP style post lawsuit. MIJ) Ovation Custom Balladeer 1992 (MIA). Epiphone Texan 1977 MIJ. I can say (only as a good amateur), that these are all very good guitars, but each has its own purpose and place.
 

mike stanger

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Keeping an open mind is really the key to finding the right guitar, the one that will stick around and get used for a long time.

I've been playing so long I know my preferences well, and I know which guitar brands usually will fill them. I have my price limits too, but they're higher than a lot of other players. Since I don't buy, sell or trade very often, I'm always looking for a guitar that fills my bill better than something I already own.

Time after time, the unexpected guitar in a well-stocked shop will surprise me. There's always one that is superior to the others, and quite often that guitar could be cheaper, or smaller, or an import, or a model I usually don't like very much.
Over the years, I've tried many, many more guitars than I took home, and my present bunch is pretty damn good, but there's still room for one more that's got something none of my others have. When it shows up, if I can, I'll get it. I always am looking for something that has its own distinctive qualities- I never have wanted to own a lot of the same guitar, even when they're a favorite model.
regards,
stanger
 

fenderchamp

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Buy a 12 used, they don’t really hold their value that well. Don’t buy a vintags one unless it’s had a recent neck reset. But buy it used!!! Why not a guild?
 

Paul G.

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I don't know how to generalize the brand "Guild" as it is on the headstock of guitars made by quite a few makers since the company was sold to Fender. I've owned a half dozen or so New York and Westerly Guilds, acoustics and electrics. All were splendid instruments. I've played some of the Fender era Guilds and they were, well, average. I have no experience with any of the modern US or Asian Guilds.

Go out and play some if you can.
 

Zoot Zoot

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The reality is that back in the day Guild Acoustics were about the best you could get. They were the acoustic choice for many pro players.
Today they are still good but of course there is a lot more competition from many other great maufactureres (e.g. Taylor, Takamine, etc)
 

Schlumpfmeister

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If you agree that I should ask my parents for a Guild acoustic guitar for Christmas, please let me know.
I agree you should.

Just this past weekend on a gig I was able to toy around with a recent Guild 12 string and it felt really nice.

My main (and nowadays almost exclusive) acoustic guitar is a 1958 F-20. I bought it when I was looking for a Gibson LG-2 and in comparison to the LG the F-20 sounded so much bigger and it had much more volume (the Gibson displayed more treble and snarl though). Also, I sense that in a historic perspective, Guild was alway known as a 12-string and Jumbo style company. So there is some legacy, at least to me this is important.
 




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