Guild Guitar Company

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Guild Guitar Company
Type Private
Industry Musical instruments
Founded 1952
Founders Alfred Dronge
Headquarters Oxnard, California
Area served Global
Products Guitars
Parent Cordoba Music Group
Website Guild Guitars official website

The Guild Guitar Company is a United States-based guitar manufacturer founded in 1952 by Alfred Dronge, a guitarist and music-store owner, and George Mann, a former executive with the Epiphone Guitar Company. The brand name currently exists as a brand under Cordoba Music Group. [1]

Pre-Fender era[edit]

The first Guild workshop was located in Manhattan, New York, where Dronge (who soon took over full ownership) focused on archtop jazz guitars, both electric and acoustic. Rapid expansion forced the company to move to much larger quarters, on Newark St. in Hoboken, New Jersey, in the old R. Neumann Leathers building.[2] The advent of the folk music craze in the early '60s had shifted the company into production of an important line of acoustic folk and blues guitars, including a dreadnought series (D-40, D-50 and, later, D-55) that competed successfully with Martin's D-18 and D-28 models, and jumbo and Grand Concert "F" models that were particularly popular with blues guitarists like Mississippi John Hurt and Dave Van Ronk. Notable also was the Guild 12-string guitar, which used a Jumbo "F" body and dual truss rods in the neck to produce a workhorse instrument with a deep, rich tone distinctive from the chimier twelve-strings put out by Martin.

Richie Havens performing in 2006 with a Guild D40

The company continued to expand, and was sold to the Avnet Corporation, which moved production to Westerly, Rhode Island, in 1966. As the folk scene quieted, a new generation of folk-rockers took Guild guitars on stage. The most notable Guild performance of that era was on the D-40 that Richie Havens played when he opened the Woodstock Festival in 1969.

During the 1960s, Guild moved aggressively into the electric guitar market, successfully promoting the Starfire line of semi-acoustic (Starfire I, II & III) and semi-solid (Starfire IV, V & VI) guitars and basses. A number of early West-Coast psychedelic bands used these instruments, notably guitarists Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia and bassist Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, as well as Jefferson Airplane's bassist Jack Casady. Alembic started their transition from sound and recording work to instrument building by modifying Lesh & Casady's Starfire basses. The rare S-200 Thunderbird solid body electric was used by Muddy Waters and The Lovin' Spoonful's Zal Yanovsky. Inspired by seeing Muddy Waters, Australian guitarist Ross Hannaford also acquired a Thunderbird, which he used extensively in the period that he played in popular Australian 1970s band Daddy Cool.

Guild also successfully manufactured the first dreadnought acoustic guitar which incorporates a "cut-away" in the lower shoulder of the instrument, known as the Guild D40-C. In 1972, under Guild's new president Leon Tell, noteworthy guitarist/designer Richard "Rick" Excellente conceptualized and initiated the first dreadnought guitar with a "cut-away". The cut-away feature enables a player to have a more usable higher fret range. Upon the success of the Guild D-40C, other guitar manufactures followed suit. Today, Guild continues to manufacture the D-40C, and now, virtually every guitar manufacturer in the world incorporates this cut-away on their acoustic dreadnought guitars.

The decline of the folk and acoustic market in the later '70s and early '80s put severe economic pressure on the company, and while instrument specialists generally concede that quality suffered at other American competitors, Guild models from the '70s and '80s are considered still made to the high-quality standards the Westerly plant was known for. In the 1980s, Guild introduced a series of Superstrat solid bodies including models such as the Flyer, Aviator, Liberator and Detonator, the Tele-style T-200 and T-250 (endorsed by Roy Buchanan) and the Pilot Bass, available in fretted, fretless, and 4- and 5-string versions. These guitars were the first Guild instruments to bear slim pointed headstocks, sometimes called "pointy droopy", "duck foot" and "cake knife" for their distinctive shape.

Fender era[edit]

After several changes in management and ownership, Guild was eventually purchased by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation in 1995. In late 2001, Fender decided to move all Guild production to its factory in Corona, California. To ease the Corona facility (which had only made electric guitars up to this point) into making archtop and acoustic guitars, the Westerly factory artisans and workers prepared guitar 'kits' that they shipped to Corona. These kits were near-complete production guitars that only needed finishing and final assembly before being sent to retailers.

Production in Corona was short-lived, however, as Fender acquired the assets of Washington-based Tacoma Guitar Company in 2004, and moved all American Guild acoustic production to Tacoma, Washington and discontinued production of US-made Guild electric guitars completely.

Current production[edit]

In 2008, Fender again moved Guild when they acquired Kaman Music Corporation and its small production facility in New Hartford, Connecticut, where hand production of all US-made Guilds resumed in a manner consistent with other high-end, boutique guitar builders. The New Hartford Guild facility began production in early 2009, starting with the D-55 and F-50 models. Production quickly ramped up to include most of the popular Traditional Series acoustic guitar models. Acoustic-Electric versions of these models are also available. Starting with 2012 models, all US-built Guild Traditional Series guitars are available in right- and left-handed configurations.

In 2011, Traditional Series models' were improved by means of a new DTAR pickup system, which allows blending between an internal microphone element and an under-saddle transducer. Previous DTAR configurations only included an under-saddle transducer. Also, hard shell case material has been upgraded to a high-end, faux alligator skin material with crushed velvet interior padding.

In late 2010, Guild released its Standard Series acoustic guitars, which are US-built guitars (still manufactured in the New Hartford, Connecticut facility) that are based on models from their top-end Traditional Series. These guitars have high-end features, but differences in ornamentation and instrument finish options make them more affordable. Standard Series models include the F-30, F-30R, F-50, D-40, D-50, and the return of the F-212XL 12-string model. All Standard Series models feature red spruce bracing, satin mahogany necks, and bone saddles, nuts, and bridge pins, but have lower-grade wood[citation needed] and different ornamentation than their Traditional Series counterparts.

In 2011, cutaway acoustic-electric versions of all Standard Series models were released. These guitars feature venetian cutaways and a DTAR 18V under-saddle pickup system. These models can be identified by the 'CE' suffix at the end of the guitar's model number. All Guild guitars come with hard shell cases.

The New Hartford facility has also created a new line of specialty, limited edition guitars, referred to as the GSR Series. The GSR designation stands for "Guild Special Run." This series was first revealed to Guild dealers at Guild's dealer-only factory tour in mid-2009. These models feature unique takes on classic Guild Traditional Series models. GSR models include the F-20 (figured Cocbolo), F-30R (master-grade Rosewood), F-40 (figured Cocobolo), F-50 (figured Koa), and D-50 (figured Cocobolo), and Guild's only electric guitar to be produced since 2003, the GSR Starfire VI (only 20 produced). Each of these instruments features unique designs, wood selection, ornamentation, and has extremely limited production numbers.

In the late spring/early summer of 2014, the New Hartford facility closed its doors as FMIC prepared to sell the Guild brand to Cordoba Music Group (CMG). Based in Santa Monica, California, CMG currently manufactures its own line of acoustic guitars and ukuleles under the Cordoba brand. A new manufacturing facility has been set up in Oxnard, California, where U.S. production of Guild acoustic and electric guitars will resume, led by Guild alum Ren Ferguson as the VP of Manufacturing and R&D. [3]

Guild Import brands[edit]

Guild has had four primary import guitar lines, which are imported from Asia. *Early Madeiras are from Japan,later ones from Korea.

In the early seventies, Guild formed import brands for acoustic and electric guitars made outside the United States. Madeira Acoustic and Electric Guitars were import guitars based on existing Guild designs, but manufactured in Asia. They are characterized by their substantially unique pickguard shape and differing headstock.

Similarly to Madeira, Burnside Electric Guitars were Guild electric guitar designs (typically of super-Strat delineation) that were manufactured outside the United States. The headstocks on these guitars read "Burnside by Guild." Both brands were discontinued in the early '90s.

After Fender purchased Guild in the mid '90s, reissues of some Guild electric guitars were manufactured in Korea under the DeArmond brand name, which Fender also owned the rights to. Import reissue models included the Starfire, X155, T400, M-75 Bluesbird, S-73, and Pilot Bass series. On the front of the headstock, these instruments display the DeArmond logo above a modified version of Guild's Chesterfield logo. On early production versions, the truss rod cover is stenciled with the word 'Guild' stylized and the DeArmond reissue model number, and the back of the headstock is stenciled with 'DeArmond by Guild' above the guitar's serial number. Later production versions drop all references to the Guild brand name except for a modified Chesterfield headstock inlay on most models. The DeArmond line also included other less expensive models similar in design to the Guild reissues and manufactured in Indonesia. The DeArmond brand was discontinued in the early 2000s.

Also in the early 2000s, FMIC created a new line of Guild acoustic guitars called the GAD-series, which stands for "Guild Acoustic Design." As with the other import lines, these guitars are based on past and present Guild acoustic guitar designs, but are built in China. All of these models are designated with a 'GAD' as a model prefix. These guitars feature poly finishes (as opposed to traditional nitrocellulose lacquer on US models) and nondescript wood grading. Interestingly, FMIC did not choose to create this line under a different brand name, but left it as a new series of guitars from Guild. This choice has caused confusion, as it marks the first time that an import has actually donned the Guild brand name, which had previously only been used to describe US-made guitars. Because of this, it is no longer immediately clear if a Guild-branded guitar is a US-made model or an import, although the GAD models usually have unique ornamentation. The current product portfolio of GAD-series guitars is larger than Guild's US-built Traditional Series.

The 2011 GAD models have new features, looks, and model numbers. These new GAD-series Guild guitars can now also be identified with a number 1 as the first number in the model number. For example, a US-built F-50R's GAD-level copy would be called an F-150R. Similarly, a US-built F-512 would be an F-1512 as a GAD copy.

Notable users of Guild guitars[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.guitarworld.com/fender-musical-instruments-corporation-sell-guild-brand-cordoba-music-group
  2. ^ "Owner's Manual and Warranty, p.2" (PDF). Guild Guitars. 2007. Retrieved 12 September 2013. 
  3. ^ http://mmrmagazine.com/91-news/upfront/1273-cordoba-names-ren-ferguson-vp-of-manufacturing-r-d-for-guild-brand.html
  4. ^ Moust, H. (1995). The Guild Guitar Book. GuitArchives. pp. 82, 137. ISBN 0-634-00966-4. . The photograph of Benson accompanying an interview with him in the Guitar Player Book, published in the 1970s, shows him holding a Guild Artist Award with its strings removed.
  5. ^ "Guitars". John Renbourn. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  6. ^ "TWOGOODEARS - トゥーグッドイアーズ: Music and its tools: Ralph Towner's Guild 12 strings guitar(s)". Twogoodears.blogspot.com. 2010-10-31. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  7. ^ "Gearbox", Acoustic Guitar, January-February 1991, Issue No. 4, p. 61
  8. ^ Youtube 12/5/13 Christmas tree sessions

Bibliography[edit]

  • Hans Moust (1995) The Guild Guitar Book. Hal Leonard Corporation. Roger Hodgson - F-512, Ted Kaplan (aka Teddy Rose) - F212/F412xl

External links[edit]