Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Gibson ES-335

Mark Knopfler's '58 ES-335
The 1950’s were essential years in perfecting the design of the electric guitar. For Gibson Guitars, under the leadership of Ted McCarty, 1958 was a magical year. He and his team had come up with a series of futuristic solid body guitar designs, which included the Flying Vee, the Explorer and the elusive Moderne, but they also created one of the most original and iconic electric guitars of all time; The ES-335TD, or Electric Spanish model 335 Thin - Double Pickups. Or as it is more commonly known; the Gibson ES-335.

1958 ES-335


McCarty felt the ES-335 was right behind the Les Paul solid body as the companies most important body design. He stated, “I came up with the idea of putting a solid block of maple in an acoustic model. It would get some of the same tone as a regular solidbody, plus the instrument's hollow wings would vibrate and we'd get a combination of an electric solidbody and a hollow body guitar.”



In 1952 Gibson had taken a chance on production of Les Paul’s concept of a solid body guitar which would eliminate the electronic feedback that was common to hollow body electric guitars when they were amplified loudly.

Les Paul with The Log
To prove this point, in 1941 Les Paul had created “The Log” which was a solid piece of 4 x 4 pine wood on to which he had attached an Epiphone Broadway guitar neck. Two single coil pickups were mounted to the wooden frame, along with a tailpiece to attach the strings. To make it appear to be a guitar, Paul had sawed the body of an Epiphone guitar in half and bolted the “wings” on either side of the pine plank. And that instrument did not feed back.

A modern ES 335 with maple block


This concept was essentially repeated with the Gibson ES-335. Its body had wings that were hollow shells of maple with F-holes over those chambers, but a significant maple block  separated the two sides and it was routed out to contain the pickups and anchor the neck.


'48 L-5
In the 1950’s Gibson had its feet staunchly planted in the hollow body guitar market manufacturing some of the finest electric and acoustic instruments. Up until the production of the ES-335, all the Gibson guitars with cutaways had only been manufactured with one either Venetian or Florentine cutaway, but never with two cutaways.

'49 Bigsby Guitar

Fender had been making its double cutaway Stratocaster since 1954. Surprisingly enough Paul Bigsby had built double cutaway guitars as early as 1949. And Bigsby’s guitars, though solid in appearance were actually hollow body instruments.




'55 Mousegetar
Now this may sound far fetched, but in the year 1958 one of the most popular television shows was The Mickey Mouse Club. Host Jimmy Dodd played a tenor guitar that Walt Disney commissioned to be produced by Candeles Guitars of East Los Angeles. Walt wanted that guitar to appear as if it had “mouse ears”. So the Mousegetar was built with double cutaways in 1955, three years before the ES-335. I have to wonder if this particular guitar inspired anyone in the Gibson design department.


By 1958 Gibson had latched on to the double cutaway concept.

An original 1958 Gibson ES-335 was given a suggested retail price of $335. Although in 1958 most were selling at around $267.50. By the way, in today's money $267.50 is equivalent to around $4,000 USD.




1958 Gibson ES-335
In 1958 the ES-335 body was 1 3/4” deep and had the usual Gibson scale of 24 3/4”. The top and back on the double cutaway body were made of laminated maple as was the center block. The body had single white binding around its perimeter. The neck was also made of laminated maple, for added strength and on original models, it was not bound and had a rather large feel to it. The fretboard was made of rosewood with pearl dot inlays.

1958 ES-335 Neck view
The original ES-335 guitars came with either a stop tail piece or a Bigsby B7 vibrato tail piece, which sometimes came with a sticker that said “CustomMade” to hide the routing holes for the stop bar. The bridge/saddle was a tune-o-matic model with adjustable nickel saddles.

PAF Stricker from 1958 humbuckers
This guitar came with twin PAF humbucking pickups and each had an individual volume and tone control in a gold finish with gold tops. Nearby was a three-way selector switch with an amber plastic top. The original models came with the long beveled pickguard. The strap button was made of plastic.

This year the ES-335 was only available with a sunburst or natural finish.

1959 ES-335 Cherry finish
A year later the familiar cherry red finish was added as an option. This year binding was added to the neck. Some of the 1958 models had irregularities in the shape of the neck. By 1959, these issue were resolved. A 1959 ES-335 is considered to be a very desirable guitar to collectors.


1960 ES-335

A few changes occurred in 1960. This year the neck was given a thinner feel to the back shape. The volume/tone knobs have a chrome reflector top. The pickguard was shortened this year and does not extend past the bridge.






1961 ES-335



In 1961, Gibson discontinued the ES-335 with a natural finish. This year the strap button were changed to metal. The selector switch tip colour was gradually changed to white. Most notably the serial number was stamped into the back side of the head stock.




1962 ES-335
Big changes occurred in 1962. Instead of pearl dot inlaid fret markers, the markers were now small block inlays. The shape of the cutaways have a slight change in that they are now rounder instead of being more pointed. The saddles in the tune-o-matic bridge are now made of white nylon. Most of us will never see this, but the PAF sticker on the back of the humbucking pickups now shows the patent number.

By 1963 the neck shape gradually got larger again.

1965 Gibson ES-335 
In 1965 Gibson changed the stop tailpiece to a chrome trapeze model. This may have been the most visible change. However the most dramatic change was the width of the neck at the nut. It changed from 1 11/16th” to 1 9/16th”.


1966 ES-335



By 1966 the Brazilian rosewood on the fretboard was changed to Indian rosewood. The neck angle decreased from 17 degrees to 14 degrees. The bevel of the pickguard was also changed making the black/white/black layers less noticeable.





1968 Gibson ES-335


By 1968 Gibson resumed making the nut and neck slightly wider by going back to the 1 11/16th” spacing.



1969 ES-335 Walnut Finish


It was not until 1969 that any more changes occurred. That year the guitar was offered with a walnut finish.








1977 ES-335 with coil tap switch


In 1977 Gibson, now owned by Norlin added a coil tap switch on the upper treble cutaway to keep up with the trends of the day.




1981 ES-335DOT



In 1981 the ES-335TDC was discontinued, but replaced with the ES-335DOT. These were made through 1985 and were very good guitars.






1990 Gibson ES-335


By 1990 the Gibson ES-335DOT was discontinued and replaced with the Gibson ES-335 reissue which remains in production.




ES-335 Artist
Through the years Gibson issued some variants on the ES-335 model including a 1981 model called the ES-335 Artist, or more properly, ES Artist, which came with a large headstock logo, no F-holes, a metal truss rod cover, gold hardware, and 3 knobs. The circuit inside the guitar was developed by Moog.

1987 ES-335 CMT

From 1983-1987 the ES-335 CMT was available. A very similar guitar to the ES-335DOT, but with a curly maple top and back and with gold hardware.




1990 ES-335 Studio


I recall the music store I used to spend time at had a Gibson ES-335 Studio model. It was Gibson’s effort to update and offer a lower price point. This guitar had no F-Holes, and came with twin Dirty Finger humbucking pickups. These were made from the mid 1980’s through 1991.




1988 ES-335 Showcase Edition


The Gibson ES-335 Showcase Edition lasted only a year. The hardware was black. It came with two EMG pickups. The guitar was either white or beige. Only 200 units were made in 1988.





'94 ES-335 Centennial

1994 gave us the Gibson ES-335 Centennial model to celebrate the company’s founding. This also was a limited edition of only 100 units. This guitar came with a gold medallion on the headstock and the tailpiece had diamond inlays.






1998 ES-335 Historic '59


Four years later Gibson came out with the ES-335 Historic Collection, which was a replica of their original 1959 ES-335.





'85 ES-335 Nashville made
By 1984 Gibson had moved all electric guitar production our of Kalamazoo, Michigan to Nashville, Tennessee. The ES-335 was then being made at the Nashville factory.

However in 2000 Gibson opened a facility in Memphis, Tennessee. This is where ES-335’s are built today.

Through the years following 1958, Gibson made other models that were either based on the model ES-335, such as ES-330, which was a hollow body guitar, or the ES-345 and ES-355, which had a broader tonal palette and were fancier guitars, and even the Trini Lopez Standard, which had a similar body, but different sound holes, inlays, and headstock, the ES-335 is the original starting point for all similar models.

Click on the links in the photographs for their source. Click on links in the text for further information.

© UniqueGuitar Publishing (for text only)






Friday, January 20, 2017

New Guitars from C.F. Martin

C.F. Martin Guitars made a hit at this years winter NAMM show with their D-200 Limited Edition guitar that has a suggested retail price of $149,999.

Martin D-200 
The 2017 Winter NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) convention not only attracts musical instrument retailers, but also artists and lovers of musical merchandise, especially guitars. The D-200 is a collaboration with the RGM Watch Company and celebrates the fact that Martin Guitars has built 2 million guitars. Only fifty D-200’s will be made. C.F. Martin & Company and RGM Watches both are based in Pennsylvania.




Martin D-200 back side
The company’s press release states"This unprecedented instrument is symbolic of the passage of time with a unique watch theme displayed throughout the many highly decorative aspects of the model. A classic 14-fret Style 45 Dreadnought is the basis for this work of art. The top is crafted from highly-figured bearclaw Engelmann spruce that features an aluminum rosette with guilloche engraving - a refined process of cutting geometric patterns into metal that also appears on the stainless steel tuning machine buttons of the edition. 


Martin D-200


The guitar's back of rare pre-CITES Brazilian rosewood, is inlaid with spectacular watch gears cut from reconstituted stone, mother-of-pearl, bloodwood, Hawaiian koa and ebony. The equally spectacular soundboard inlays feature a minute track in mother-of-pearl, birdseye maple, flamed Hawaiian koa and ebony, and a pickguard with pearl inlaid watch gears. 




D-200 Side view
Yet another unique decorative detail is the triple-strand abalone pearl striping that bisects the length of each side, referencing the early Spanish-inspired instruments of C. F. Martin Sr. The maple bound ebony fingerboard showcases watch gear mechanisms with the highest level of delicate inlay art. 


Martin D-200 with RGM Watch

Each guitar is furnished with a newly-designed wearable edition watch from RGM that references details from the D-200 guitar design and bears a matching serial number with each edition instrument. 





Martin D-200 with aluminum case

Lastly, each guitar comes in a premium aluminum Zero Manufacturing attache case with a built-in hygrometer that allows the interior environment of the case to be seen without the need to open the case."


DD-28 Dwight Yoakam


C.F. Martin unveiled two other models that are more affordable. These include the Dwight Yoakam DD-28 model with a suggested retail price of $5,999.







DD-28 Dwight Yoakam
This gorgeous dreadnought style guitar features a solid sitka spruce top with East Indian rosewood back and sides. Thre fretboard is ebony with three mother-of-pearl spade, diamond, and club fret markers and a mother-of-pearl inlay of playing cards made of reconstituted stone that cover the 11th through the 13th frets. The pickguard is in Martin’s “bull horn” style. The highly flamed headstock veneer of Indian rosewood features the deluxe C.F. Martin vertical logo.

John Prine D-28 LTD
Martin has also come out with a limited edition of 70 John Prine D-28 guitars to honor one of the world’s great songwriters and singers. This beautiful guitar features an Engleman spruce top that features an antique toner finish along with antique white binding. The bridge saddle is made of ebony with a bone saddle. Wood used on the back and side is Madagascar rosewood. The headstock veneer, also made of Madagascar rosewood features pearl angel wing inlays to commemorate Prine’s popular song, “Angel from Montgomery.”

Head and neck detail



The neck comes with an ebony fretboard with abalone pearl snowflake inlays. The case is also unique. It features a cream tweed exterior and plush bright red inner lining. The John Prine D-28 has a suggested retail price of $5999.





Martin CEO-8.2
When does a Martin guitar not look like a Martin guitar? When it is designed by Martin CEO C.F. Martin IV. Chris Martin came up with this exquisite grand jumbo guitar deemed the CEO 8.2, and topped it off with unique Bourbon Sunset Burst shading. The guitar is made entirely with Forestry Stewardship Council certified wood. Martin has done a great job with conservation over recent years. The headstock has a unique design taken from very old Martin archtop models and has an ornate design, and an unusual slanted logo.

Headstock and neck detail

The fret markers are unique and match the headstock inlay. It is priced at $3999 or if you prefer a Fishman soundhole pickup it will cost an extra grand. It comes with grained ivoroid binding and heelcap, a bone nut and saddle. The bridge is ebony and the bridge pins are called liquid metal, which is a special design made by Martin that promises to increase volume by at least 3 decibels. The case for this guitar is also unique and is a TKL Alumin-X case with a precise fit for this guitar.


C-1 amd C-3 Ukes

To celebrate 100 years of uke production, Martin unveiled three new ukuleles. These include the Style 3 Centennial Ukulele, with a suggested retail price of $2999, the Style 1 Centennial Ukulele, with a suggested retail price of $599, and the new Bamboo Natural Uke with a retail price of $449.




Sunday, January 8, 2017

Guild Electric Guitars

Guild Electric Guitars
One of my favorite guitar companies is Guild. But during the guitar boom of the 1960, when it came to electric guitars, most performers preferred Fender, Gibson, and even Gretsch. Of the electric guitars players that were known for their use of a Guild electric guitar, only a few come to mind.

1976 Guild S100 Carved


Guild acoustic guitars seemed to enjoy better name recognition than the companies electric brands. However in my opinion, Guild electric guitars were every bit as good and in some cases superior to the products being put out by their competition.





Al Dronge on the right
The Guild Guitar Company was founded in 1952 by Avram “Alfred” Dronge, a guitarist and music-store owner, and George Mann, a former executive with the Epiphone Guitar Company.

Dronge immigrated with his family to the United States in 1916 and grew up in Manhattan, near the Music Row district, around West 48th street.

He was an accomplished banjo player and guitarist. He eventually opened a music store in the same part of town back he grew up in. This was in the mid-1930’s and Dronge successfully ran it until 1948. He then amassed a fortune by importing accordions and distributing them in the early 1950’s when the accordion was a very popular musical instrument.

Al Dronge - George Mann
In 1952 his friend George Mann suggested they team up as partners in a guitar business. Mann was in management with Epiphone Guitars. Around this time period the company was facing upheavals by employees who wanted to unionize. To put a halt this the Stathopoli Brothers left their manufacturing facility in New York City and set up shop in Philadelphia leaving many craftsmen without work. George Mann saw the potential in hiring these out-of-work craftsmen.

Another friend of both men, Gene Detgen, suggested the name “Guild”. So in 1952 the company was founded with Mann as president and Dronge as vice-president and former Epiphone employees were hired. A year after forming the company Mann departed leaving Al Dronge in charge.

Guild Guitar Factory Manhattan
By 1956 the company set up shop in Manhattan, but soon moved to Hoboken, New Jersey due to expansion. The men were fortunate to hire seasoned people to run the operation such as Bob Bromberg, who was the plant manager, Carlo Greco, who was an exceptional luthier, Gilbert Diaz, who was in charge of final assembly, and Fred Augusto, a finishing specialist.


Guild F-5212
During the “Folk Era” of the 1960’s the company thrived due to its acoustic guitar production and reputation. Especially popular was the amazing Guild F5212 that sounded like a canon.

Carl Kress & George Barnes
Because of Al Dronge’s ties with the New York Jazz scene, where he played guitar at clubs during his younger days, he was able to get a lot of input from players like Johnny Smith, Son Armone, Carl Kress, and Barry Galbraith on the needs of a jazz player for an electric guitar.

'58 Johnny Smith Award

In fact Johnny Smith worked with the factory to develop a signature guitar which became the Artist Award. Another jazz giant, George Barnes, helped develop another signature guitar. Both of these models were in high demand among studio performers. A signature hollow-body guitar designed for Duane Eddy became a rockabilly classic.




1962 Guild X-175



It was during this era that Guild created some of their classic electric models such as the X-175 and the M-75 Aristocrat.







1957 M-75 Aristocrat
The M-75 Aristocrat may have looked like a Les Paul, but it was far from that guitar. The M-75 was introduced in 1954. Although it had no f-holes, it was a hollowbody guitar with a spruce top. In fact Guild fouder Al Dronge was not looking to copy the Les Paul, as his attention was bent towards Jazz guitarists and their needs.

'58 Guild Aristocrat


The pickups on this guitar looked like P-90 soap bar models, but were made by the Franz company of Astoria New York and were of a lower output. It looked like a slightly smaller version of the George Barnes model.







1967 Guild BluesBird
This model was produced through 1963, but was revived in 1967 with the name BluesBird. At this time the body was routed instead of being hollow and the pickups were replaced with humbuckers.

'70 Guld M-75



By 1970 the designation changed to the M-75 and hardward was downgraded from gold-plated to chrome plated. The body on this guitar was solid beginning around 1971.

Guild S-200 “Thunderbird”, S-100 “Polara”, S-50 “Jet Star”

It was during the 1960’s that Guild produced their finest electric guitars.


These included the Thunderbird series, the S-100 Polara, and the Starfire series.


Jerry Garcia with Guild Starfire III

Guitarists Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia and bassist Phil Lesh, all of the Grateful Dead had their Guild Starfire guitars and basses modified by the Alembic company as did bass player Jack Cassady of Jefferson Airplane. 


Guild Starfire
In fact one of the most iconic group of guitars produced by Guild was the Starfire series. These guitars hit the scene as early as 1960 and consisted of five guitars and two bass guitars.

The Gibson company had first offered the ES-225 guitar in 1955. The Guild Starfire II and Starfire III bore a similar body shape to this instrument with its thin body, single Florentine cutaway, and twin pickups.

Guild Starfire II
The Starfire II, much like the ES-225, was a completely hollow body guitar. The body was 1 7/8” thick and bound on the front and back. The early models came with twin DeArmond single coil pickups, which were updated to Guild humbucking pickups in 1963. A pickup selector was on the top side of the upper bout. Each pickup had its own volume and tone controls. The set-in 20 fret neck was bound and topped with a rosewood fretboard with dot position markers. The scale was 24 3/4”. The Guild logo was inlaid at the top of the headstock and below it was Guild’s Chesterfield crest.

Starfire II with DeArmond pickups
The black pickguard was tiered on the lower side and marked with the Guild logo. The strings passed over a Guild adjustable saddle that was mounted on a rosewood bridge and were secured to a Guild harp trapeze tailpiece.

The Kingsmen "Louie, Louie"

One little known fact is that Mike Mitchell, the guitarist for The Kingsmen, used a Guild Starfire II to record the solo on the groups one big hit, Louie, Louie.



1965 Guild Starfire III
The Guild Starfire III was the same guitar, but with the addition of a Bigsby B7 tailpiece. These guitars were originally available with a cherry finish.


'64 Starfire III w DeArmonds



Later sunburst was added and available until 1967. In 1962 Guild added Ebony Grain, Emerald Green, Black, White and Amber custom finishes. The original models were offered through 1973.





1968 Guild Starfire IV
In 1959 Gibson Guitars first produced their double cutaway hollowbody model known as the ES-330. In 1963 Guild took the Starfire a step further producing the hollowbody Gulld Starfire IV double cutaway model. This guitar had a slightly different shape than Gibson’s ES double cutaway guitars.

1961 Starfire IV with Natural finish
The Starfire IV usually sported twin Guild humbucking pickups on its body, but some came with DeArmond single coil models that were mounted with rings to mask the fact that the guitar was routed for humbuckers. The body was bound on the top and bottom.

Once again the Starfire IV had individual controls for tone and volume for each pickup. The selector switch was mounted on the guitars lower cutaway. The set-in neck was bound and topped with a rosewood fretboard with 22 frets and dot position markers. The body joined at the 16th fret, then after 1967 this was changed to the 18th fret, Once again the distinctive Guild logo was inlaid on the black headstock veneer, and below it was the Guild Chesterfield crest. The tuners were either Grover Sta-tites or Rotomatics. Interestingly it was available with stereo wiring as an option.

Originally this guitar was offered in cherry and sunburst. Later custom colours were added including white, black, blonde, brown and natural finish. The strings passed over a tuneable saddles mounted on a rosewood bridge and were secured to a Guild harp tailpiece.

'63 Starfire V
The Starfire V was Guild’s best selling model from this series. This was a step up from the IV model. Once again it had a 1 7/8” thick body with double cutaways that was bound on the top and bottom. It came with twin Guild humbucking pickups, although some models were produced with DeArmond single coil models. Each pickup had its own volume and tone control, with the addition of a master volume control on the lower cutaway, right below the pickup selector switch. This guitar had the familiar Guild tiered design on the lower portion of the pickguard.

'67 Starfire V
One of the biggest changes was the addition of a 3 piece laminated neck. This was topped with a rosewood fretboard with 22 frets and block inlays as position markers. As before the Guild logo was inlaid in the headstock veneer above the Chesterfield design. The tuners were first made by Kolb, the were Grover Rotomatics beginning in 1965. The other addition was the Bigsby B7 vibrato tailpiece. This guitar was also available with stereo wiring. This guitar first was offered only in cherry or sunburst, but later in custom colours.


1967 Starfire VI
The top of the line model was the Guild Starfire VI. This gorgeous instrument had all the accouterments found on the Starfire V, but with the addition of gold plated hardware, including pickup covers, selector switch, bridge saddles, pickguard mounting strap and tuning buttons. Additionally not only the body and neck were bound, but the f-holes and also the headstock.

Instead of a rosewood fretboard, the Starfire VI came with an ebony fretboard and inlaid block markers. The headstock veneer had the Guild name inlaid, and inlaid under it was a Guild “G” logo.

'67 Starfire XII
Guild produced one more version of the Starfire guitar. This was a 12 string model known as the Starfire XII. It was similar to the Guild Starfire IV in its design, which included the harp tailpiece, but came with a 12 string headstock. Some models came with metalic adjustable saddles mounted on the bridge, while other guitars were produced with just a rosewood non-tunable bridge. Few models were produced with DeArmond single coil pickups, but the majority of these guitars came with Guild humbucking pickups.


'65 Starfire bass


The Guild Starfire bass was most interesting. Player such as Jack Cassidy and Phil Lesh played this instrument (albeit that their instruments were modified by Alembic). This was a double cutaway hollow body bass, somewhat similar in shape to the 1958 version of Gibson’s EB-2 bass. However the Starfire bass was a hollow instrument that hit the scene in 1965.



1966 Starfire bass
This bass came with one Hagstrom Bisonic pickup. Originally this was mounted just above the bridge, but by 1966 was moved to the neck position. The bridge unit was also made by Hagstrom and was a metallic plate with an angled and staggered rosewood bridge. This was a short scale bass; 30 3/4”. Originally the neck was a one piece unit, but later models were three piece laminate. The neck was topped with a rosewood fretboard. There was no pickguard on the Starfire bass.

The headstock, like other Starfire models, had the Guild logo inlaid on the veneer and the Chesterfield crest. The earliest models came with only a volume and tone control, but by 1968 a push-button bass boost switch was added.

1967 Starfire II bass
In 1967 Guild came out with a double pickup version; the Guild Starfire II Bass. This model came with two Hagstrom BS-1 Bisonic pickups, each with individual volume and tone controls. The selector switch was on the lower horn and beneath it was a master volume control.

'67 Starfire II bass in emerald green

This bass included the same Hagstrom bridge/saddle unit, but no bass boost button. In fact, by 1970 this was replaced with a tone control on the single pickup model. The Starfire and Starfire II basses were available with stereo wiring or with a fretless neck. The model was discontinued by 1977.

Zal Yanovsky with Guild S-200



Guitarist Zal Yanovsky of The Lovin’ Spoonful and Bluesman Muddy Waters used Guild Thunderbird S-200 guitars.







'63 S-200 Thunderbird
The S-200 Thunderbird was possibly one of the more unique guitar ever created. Sometimes it is referred to as the Gumby Guitar since it's body bears resemblance to the green claymation character.

This guitar was equipped with twin humbucking pickups, each with separate volume controls and tone controls. It also had a faceplate on the lower side of the upper bout that housed 3 slider switches in a similar manner to the Fender Jaguar.

The 2 lower switches were on/off controls for each pickup. The upper switch was an on/off mode switch. Housed between the switching faceplate and the volume potentiometers was another mode switch. Switched upward it effected only the neck pickup and downward effected both pickups. When the mode switch was on it activated capacitors that produced a single coil type of tone, while maintaining the humbucking capability of the pickups giving the guitar a sparkling clean sound.

Hagstrom Tremolo


The strings attached to a tremolo unit that was made by the Hagstrom Guitar company. The guitars neck was bound and had mother-of-pearl block inlays. The headstock was made with a very unique carve on it's top and the Guild logo was inlaid above a "thunderbird" inlay.



S-200 Built-in stand


Due to the inward carve on the bottom of this guitar, some ingenious designer at Guild decided the finishing touch would be to add a metal bar to the back of the guitar that acted like a built-in guitar stand.




S-100 and S-200

The S-200 Thunderbird guitar was also produced with twin single coil pickups. The S-100 was another guitar in the series that had less switching features and  a less fancy headstock but retained the built-in guitar stand.

In 1966, the Guild Musical Instruments Corporation, as it was now known, was bought out by electronics giant Avnet Inc. This was right at the end of the guitar boom, but corporations were still hoping to profit from the popularity of the guitar.

Guild's Westerly, Rhode Island factory
The company had outgrown it’s facility in Hoboken and the new owners decided, to move manufacturing to Westerly Rhode Island. Al Dronge was still in charge.

Sadly he was piloting a small aircraft and commuting to Westerly when his plane crashed in May of 1972. He was a popular and respected man and his employees, and the industry felt his loss.

'79 Guild D-40C


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" with the Guild D40-C. By the 1970’s and 80’s, the Folk Era, and the Guitar Boom were history.





'84 X-79, '87 Detonator, '88 Liberator
To keep afloat and survive the competition Guild introduced a series of Superstrat style solid body guitars including models such as the Flyer, Aviator, Liberator and Detonator, the Tele-style T-200 and T-250 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.

Guitars drying at Westerly plant
In 2001 Fender Musical Instruments Corporation was on an acquisition spree and purchased many of their competitors leaving them in name only. FMIC (Fender) purchased Guild this same year. Production had been great in Westerly for over 30 years and Guild had employed many fine craftsmen.

But Fender had plans to move production to their facility in Corona, California.

The last job the good folks in Westerly did for Guild was to put together archtop and acoustic guitar “kits” that were to be shipped to California where they would be finished and assembled. Although Corona does have a wonderful plant, production of Guild guitars was not to be continued there. Later on there were rumors that FMIC may move production back to Westerly, but nothing ever happened.

The Tacoma Guitar Factory
In 2004 FMIC purchased the assets of the Tacoma, Washington based Tacoma Guitar Company with the thought of having workers there build Guild Guitars.

Sadly Tacoma Guitars, which were unique and excellent instruments, were never built again. Guild guitars were built in Tacoma for only a few years.

Kaman Music Corp, New Hartford
In 2008 Fender acquired Kaman Music Corporation aka Ovation Guitars and moved production of Guild Guitars to that facility in New Hartford, Connecticut where production of US made Guild guitars resumed the following year.

By then FMIC was also outsourcing production. To be fair, as far back as when Guild was in Westerly, Rhode Island, the company had outsourced some of its products, but not under the Guild brand name.

1979 Madeira Guitar Ad


In the early 1970’s Guild was importing Madeira acoustic and electric guitars from Japan. Later on these were made in Korea. The pickguard shapes and headstock shapes on these instruments are different than USA made Guild guitars.




Burnside Electric
Another line imported in the 1990’s was called Burnside Electric Guitars. These were Superstrat style guitars manufactured outside of the United States. The headstocks bore the logo “Burnside by Guild”. This line up lasted only a few years.

DeArmond Rhythm Chief pickup
As I have already indicated the Fender Musical Instrument Company was busy acquiring brands made by other companies. One of these was DeArmond, which was well known as the guitar pickup manufacturer, Rowe-DeArmond of Toledo, Ohio.

DeArmond M-77T

In the late 1990’s Fender made some reissues of Guild electric guitars that were manufactured in Korea and in Indonesia and marketed under the brandname DeArmond. These guitars and basses were variations on the Gulld Starfire, the X-155, the T400, the M-75 Bluesbird, and the pilot series bass. The headstock bore the DeArmond logo and some included a modified version of Guild’s Chesterfield inlay. Some even had the word Guild etched into the truss rod cover.


DeArmond Starfire IV


The best models came from Korea, while the less fancy guitars and bass examples were made in Indonesia. The DeArmond brand was first offered in Europe and then in the United States and was discontinued in the early 2000’s.





New Hartford F-412
The Guild guitars produced in Connecticut at the New Hartford facility were of very high quality. These were mostly acoustic guitars.The New Hartford facility had 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 called the "Guild Summit Retreat".



Guild F-30 GSR



These models featured unique takes on classic Guild Traditional Series models.





2012 Starfire VI
In fact only one electric model was built at this facility and that was the Guild Starfire VI. Only 20 examples of this guitar were produced.

In the summer of 2014 Fender sold off the Guild brand to Cordoba guitars. Most Ovation production had already been moved to Asia and the Kaman Corporation was entirely out of the music manufacturing business.




Oxnard, CA Guild plant
Though it has taken them nearly two years to get fully back into business, Cordoba has built a new facility in Oxnard, California and placed master luthier Ren Ferguson is in charge.

Ren Ferguson
Ren Ferguson has worked for Gibson Guitars since they acquired the Flatiron Mandolin company in 1986 and is a well known figure in the music industry.



Guild GAD series

In 2015 the GAD (Guild Acoustic Design Series) was replaced by the Westerly Collection, which included the models such as the T-50 Slim, the Starfire IV, and the Chris Hillman Bass.

Later that year the first M-20 and D-20 guitars were built in the Oxnard factory and in the spring of 2016 shipped to the Chicago Music Exchange.

A Few New Guild Electric Guitar Models
Based on the website and checking online store, Guild electric guitars and basses are back in full production and selling in the $1,000 USD range.

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