FOUNDED IN 1952 BY A MUSICIAN AND FORMER MUSIC-STORE
owner named Avram “Al” Dronge and his friend George Mann,
Guild quickly grew to become one of America’s top makers of
acoustic guitars. Though Guild began with archtop jazz guitars,
the company’s road to success was paved by a trio of steel-string
flat-tops introduced in 1954—the F-30 Aragon, F-40 Valencia,
and F-50 Navarre.
Guild’s 6- and 12-string models such as the D-40 Bluegrass
Jubilee, D-50 Bluegrass Special (introduced in 1963 at the behest
of Dronge’s son Mark), and flagship D-55 became very popular
in the 1960s, and the company certainly benefitted when Richie
Havens performed his famous song “Freedom” at Woodstock on
a Guild D-40.
Fender acquired Guild in 1995 and moved production from
Westerly, Rhode Island, to Corona, California. In 2005 Guild production
was moved to Tacoma, Washington, and in 2008 to New
Hartford, Connecticut, where the guitars on review here were
Though the D-40 STD, D-50 STD, F-30 STD and F-30R STD,
F-50 STD, and F-212XL STD on review here have very different
sonic personalities, they have lots in common feature-wise, including
solid wood construction, red spruce scalloped-braced tops,
nitrocellulose lacquer finishes, and traditional-style dovetail neck
joints. The workmanship inside and out on all of these models is
excellent, with the emphasis on tone rather than cosmetic details.
Ornamentations are minimal, but the bindings and pearl inlays
are well done. The frets are properly shaped and finished—though
not highly polished—and the bone nuts are carefully slotted and
also rounded and polished to eliminate sharp edges. The bridge
saddles are also made of bone and are compensated for proper Bstring
balance. The guitars all played consistently well right out
of the box. Their setups offer low action without string buzz, and
the intonation on all of them was solid and tuneful.
These Guild guitars all have things that will make them appeal
to certain players, and the best way to know which model is right
for you is to find a store with a good selection and try them all.
What follows here are observations of what we gleaned from these
guitars during tests that were conducted in the GP sound lab.
Special thanks to Waybacks guitarist James Nash, who lent his ears
and great chops to this roundup.
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