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Guild vs Martin and Gibson in the 60’s, 70’s?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by bonzo898, Feb 1, 2021.

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  1. Scottsgarage

    Scottsgarage TDPRI Member

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    So there is some circling around here when they moved factories and all, they moved tooling and all that. I have heard and I think there is some truth to this that the success of their 12 strings was the thickness of the top and the way they constructed them, as in like a truck instead of an Alfa Romeo. It makes snese as the tension is more than doubled with 12 strings. This goes back in time though. There was a period where a lot of 6 string models used the thicker top, I am pretty sure of that. That may not have been as desirable. Some described heavier. But in the 12 string world, I think they were at the top of the game in the day.
     
  2. drewg

    drewg Tele-Meister

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    Love Guilds! Hold onto your '76 D50. The 70's were a good decade for Guilds (unlike Fender and Gibson).

    3 sources you should check out:
    1. This Reverb article with a good overview of Guild time periods (though I think it's partially responsible for increasing prices of Guilds– they used to be a great deal): https://reverb.com/news/vintage-guild-acoustics-the-best-deal-on-the-used-market

    2. Jake Wildwood, Country Guitar Doctor: https://jakewildwood.blogspot.com/
    (Check out the "Museum" section of some of his repairs, like this one: He really respects 70's Guilds: https://jakewildwood.blogspot.com/2012/05/c1969-guild-d-35nt-dreadnought-guitar.html)

    3. The Letstalkguild forum of course. Tons of great info: https://letstalkguild.com/ltg/index.php

    By the way, vintage Guild Starfires (semi-hollow electrics) are also sought after. That's what I'm GASing for...

    Enjoy your D50!
     
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  3. chezdeluxe

    chezdeluxe Poster Extraordinaire

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    I am holding you guys responsible..:mad::mad:

    In post #36 I said I planned to sell my 1974 D40 Bluegrass Jubilee so I pulled it out to try as I hadn’t played it for ages.

    It sounds bloody marvelous so there goes that plan to thin the herd. :rolleyes:
     
  4. trxx

    trxx Tele-Afflicted

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    I guess I haven't played many Guilds. Only a few old ones. They were built pretty heavy and sounded like it.
     
  5. alexwilds

    alexwilds Tele-Meister

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    Guild is Epiphone. Let me explain.

    Gibson's great rival in the 30's and 40's was Epiphone, particularly archtops. The owner/founder, Epaminondas Stathopoulos, died in about 1952, and the new management ran the company into the ground. In 1957 Gibson bought the company lock, stock and barrel, shipping all the guitar parts and tools to Kalamazoo, and used the name for a budget line (I add, a Gibson built Epiphone Texan is a J-45 with a long Epiphone pattern neck - a wonderful guitar). But Gibson did not get the luthiers from Epiphone. As a group they formed a new company called Guild.

    If you look carefully at the necks of older Guild guitars and compare them with the necks of even older Epiphone archtops such as Emperor or Triumph, it is obvious that they are made to the same patterns, probably by the same hands.
     
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  6. gbart14

    gbart14 TDPRI Member

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    I for one, love Guilds. Bought them but never sold any. I have bought and sold Fenders and Gibsons but have not sold any of the Guilds- they are special. I bought my first - a Guild D50 from West Coast Music in Newport Beach, CA in 1972 and still have it. They are a bargain relative to the others in their class and have their own sound and feel. All of the others I have were bought from the first owners. Hard to explain - you can collect all the other brands but then, there are Guilds. On top of the D-50 I now have a '59 X-175 from the first owner, a 65 T-100D from the first owner, and recently found an NOS (yes, NOS) 2003 Starfire IV made by Fender in Corona, CA when Fender owned them. Yes, there were times when their quality was better or worse than others but never "bad" IMHO and they have been passed around the industry. I have not played one of their new guitars but I bet they are fantastic. Guild has quite a following and if you have not tried them, you should. IMHO.
     
  7. Marblatx

    Marblatx TDPRI Member

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    The guy who lived across the road from me in 69 or 70 restored an older Guild and it was the best sounding acoustic guitar I ever heard..I owned a Epiphone made in Japan at the time and it was a good guitar in it's own right but sounded like an old Kay with rusty strings compared to that Guild.
     
  8. Spox

    Spox TDPRI Member

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    I have one of the USA/Westerly built D4 True American dreadnoughts. It's basically an entry level Westerly, no mother of pearl or nice binding but it's a lovely playing and sounding guitar. I was looking for an acoustic in my local independent guitar shop, I wanted just an acoustic, no electrics in it, already own a Tanglewood electroacoustic super jumbo, and after trying Gibsons and Martins went for the Guild. My chops don't warrant a higher end acoustic and I've always had a soft spot for Guild. I paid probably over the odds for it but the shop owner had been seriously ill and as it's a one man store had no income for months so I wanted to put some money in the till, it's the second most expensive guitar I've ever bought.

    Soundwise it doesn't boom or chime like a higher end model would, it's somewhere in the middle but a Gibson acoustic owner I know played it for awhile at my place and said "it's hypnotic", you start playing it and next thing you know half an hour has gone by in what seems like a few minutes which is a feature of my favourite guitars. If I was going to get rid of it it'd probably be for a better Guild.
     
  9. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes, the big three back then were Gibson, Martin, and Guild. They were made in Hoboken, then Westerly, Rhode Island. Westerly was a union shop. (Maybe Hoboken, too, I don't know.)

    Yes, Guilds from that era were great guitars.

    Then the company changed hands a few times and had some ups and downs. Today's USA Guilds are as good as anything the other big companies make.What's nice today from a buyer's point of view (and bad from a seller's) is that used Guilds from that era don't command the prices that comparable Gibsons and Martins get.

    My main guitar now is a '76 Westerly-made Guild D-35. Its my second Guild. I like it more than any of the Martins and Gibsons I've owned. It comes alive in my hands. And it sounds like you're solidy bonded with yours, too. And — a D-50? Baby, you've arrived!

    You'll get a lot of good answers here. But the best place to learn about Guilds is at www.letstalkguild.com. The folks are as friendly and knowledgeable as the Tele talkers here.
     
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  10. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Actually, for better and worse, Guilds were widely considered a hippie guitar, as opposed to country or bluegrass.

    And with folks like Mississippi John Hurt and Long John Baldry sporting them, they did have a faithful blues niche carved out.
     
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  11. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

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    I have to admit I have a soft spot in my heart for Guilds. When I stated playing, they occupied that sweet spot in price between say a Harmony Sovereign and a Martin or a Gibson so for many of us a Guild was our first "good" guitar. On the other hand I do favor 1930s and 1940s Gibsons.

    Even though I am old enough to have played 1960s guitars when they were new my opinions are still only anecdotal evidence. But my take on it is that as both Martin and Gibson ramped up production as the 1960s went on it took its toll on quality. Martin, as example, increased production 75% between 1967 and 1971 alone. The reality is that no company ever made design changes for tone. They did it to solve an engineering problem and in this case that problem was how to keep the ever growing number of guitars from being returned for warranty work which was a major drag on the bottom line. The solution was to overbuild. So, as example, in 1968 Gibson started going with heavier bracing culminating in the now infamous double X bracing in 1971. In 1969 Martin went with rosewood bridge plates so wide they would qualify as a piece of furniture.

    A testament to their popularity. Photo taken in late-1966 or early-1967. The Guilds and Dearmonds would soon be replaced with a Fender and a Ric.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

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    Epi died in 1943. But certainly neither of his brothers, particularly Frixo, knew how to run the company. When Ted McCarty bought Epi in 1957 he joked he got it so cheap he could have bought it with pocket money. Gibson initially moved Epiphone to a sperate factory and placed one of their people in charge of it and assigned a CMI salesman. The first guitar they produced was a Texan which had a J50 body mated to a leftover Epi French Heel neck. In 1960 they moved Epiphone to a new building erected as part of a plant expansion.

    And while no argument that Epi and Gibson were going toe to toe with archtops, when Gibson finally got serious about flattops around 1929 they did so with a vengeance and was ready to go up against Martin. The 13 1/2" lower bout, H braced L1 was replaced by the X braced, 14 3/4" lower bout Advanced L Body guitars. Gibson has made nothing like these before or after. They then introduced their first in a line of Jumbos in 1934. Everything Gibson learned along the way came together in 1941 resulting in the Banners the following year.
     
  13. 39martind18

    39martind18 Friend of Leo's

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    I've been blessed with my avatar since 1973, and because of it, I've not had a long term relationship with another acoustic. That said, there have been a couple of dalliances along the way: a Gibson Dove ca. 1972, found in a pawnshop around 1990 for $399, later sold for $1200 to help fund building our new house; and a late 70s Guild D40 that I bought in 2001 for about $700. That guitar is still in the family with my son, but doesn't get much play at present.
     
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  14. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    My thumbnail acoustic/electric comparisons:

    - Acoustic Martin = Les Paul: Assertive, balanced.

    - Acoustic Gibson = Strat: Articulate, three-dimensional.

    - Acoustic Guild = Tele: Twangy, lively.

    - Acoustic Taylor = PRS: Trendy, Xanaxy.
     
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  15. bonzo898

    bonzo898 Tele-Meister

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    That old Guild Jake fixed up sounded amazing!

    Appreciate the shares
     
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  16. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    They're build differently, so they sound different. They make me sound better than Gibsons, Martins, or Taylors do.

    I like the old ones. I've never weighed a folk guitar. Guilds might be heavy, but they're comfortable. I've had a couple and have never gotten tired playing one.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2021
  17. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

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    The initial post-1970 MIJ Epiphones were simply re-badged Arias as Gibson licensed out the Epi name and had nothing to do with the design or building of the guitars. The Pearl Street Guilds were built under a partnership of Al Dronge and a former manager with Epiphone. As the Epiphone workers had called a strike resulting in the company temporarily moving production to the Conn factory in Philly to avoid the labor issues, Guild was able to hire a number of the disgruntled employees. I believe that early partnership though was only in effect until Dronge moved the company to Hoboken. As it was right across the river though I image a number of the employees would have been willing to make the move. If you look at Epis flattops during the 1950s though they were only producing two models - the FT110 and FT79. I own a NYC-made FT79. And no argument that they do resemble the Guild F series.
     
  18. zombywoof

    zombywoof Friend of Leo's

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    When talking about 1970s guitars though it is not only about Martin, Gibson and Guilds. We also had guitars from Mossman, Lo Prinzi, Gallagher, and such. Even Harmony came out with their Opus line in 1974. These were a last ditch effort to save the company and were really well-made X braced guitars. Problem was they carried a price tag which got you close to Martin and Gibson territory and Harmony could not shake their image as a producer of el cheapo instruments.
     
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  19. bonzo898

    bonzo898 Tele-Meister

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    Just for fun I recorded a quick snippet of my Guild so y’all can hear how rich and nuanced it sounds. Recorded in stereo through a pair of Rode NT5 small diaphragm condensers. I added a touch of reverb but otherwise did not eq, compress, or manipulate with plugins to keep the sound pure:

     
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  20. drewg

    drewg Tele-Meister

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    Who are these guys? Is one of them you?
     
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