Guild Standard Series Acoustics

Legacy, Cont’d?

Guild Standard Series

Guild Standard Series Acoustics
(LEFT TO RIGHT) Price: $2,499 retail/$1,799.99 street (F-30);
$2,699 retail/$1999.99 street (F-30R);
$2,799 retail/$2099.99 street (F-50).
Price: $2,499 retail/$1,799.99 street (D-40);
$2,799 retail/$1,999.99 street (D-50);
Contact: guildguitars.com.

Founded by a jazz guitarist as jazz-box builder, the Guild company also built a solid reputation with its ’50s acoustic guitars. The brand’s profile as an acoustic builder was certainly given a you-can’t-put-a-price-on-that bit of exposure when Richie Havens hammered on a D-40 in front of 400,000 people at Woodstock! Another unforgettable Guild gig was Stevie Ray Vaughan ripping through “Rude Mood” while playing a JF-65-12 (that’s right, a 12-string!) on an early episode of MTV’s “Unplugged.”

Guild hopes to continue that legacy with its new Standard Series – six guitars that offer strong traditional options that aim at the heart of what most acoustic players seek in a guitar. All six have Sitka-spruce tops and Red-spruce bracing, and 12″-radius fretboards with dot inlays on a 25 1/2″-scale neck. The line consists of the small-bodied F30 (mahogany back and sides) and F30R (rosewood back and sides), the square-shoulder dreadnought D-40 (mahogany) and D-50 (rosewood), and two jumbo models, the all-maple F50, and the mahogany F-212XL 12-string jumbo (which isn’t reviewed here).

The Standard F30’s dimensions are similar to a mini-jumbo, with a slightly wider body, making them compact yet giving them room-filling tone that’s especially good for lead playing and fingerstyle. Both react well to fast-picked lines and percussive strumming, in particular. Their tone is slightly boxy, but in a hip/parlor-guitar way.

The mahogany and rosewood versions of the F30 are very different. The F30 is more even in tone and has a pronounced midrange that makes arpeggios sound very fluid. The F30R, on the other hand, has a more commanding presence; its rosewood back and sides give it a fuller low-end with a bit more treble. It works well for strummed rhythm parts and full-band playing.

The D40 and D50 offer much the same story. Being dreadnoughts, they offer plenty of classic acoustic-guitar tone, and the D40 renders it evenly, but with more-pronounced midrange. Typically, mahogany instruments are not quite as loud as rosewood, but there’s something about the D40 that made it stand and deliver; it was arguably the overall best-sounding instrument for the player who accompanies a vocalist or needs it for solo work. It can get slightly lost, volume-wise, but its tone is very impressive.

The D50 is, simply put, beefy. This is the strumming machine of the batch. With a sound warm and deep, its low-end is pronounced without being overly boomy and it projects almost as if it’s amplified.

The jumbo F50 earns its ranking as the flagship of the series. An absolute cannon, it’s somewhat addicting to play; its tone blossoms quickly and its nuances are obvious. Particularly cool is that it has all the positives of a maple jumbo without most of the negatives. Maple guitars tend to favor low-end response to the point of being “boomy,” which can pose a feedback-fighting challenge in a live setting. But the F50’s low-end is much tighter, so it excels at fingerstyle arpeggios and is crazy loud, making it perfect for coffee shops and house concerts.

Guild’s Standard Series each have their own personality, much like a vintage acoustic. They represent the company’s heritage in fine fashion.

This article originally appeared in VG February 2011 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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  1. skpirie1
    Posted October 22, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    The original Guild Company started in Westerly, Rhode Island. I purchased a D-50 back in the mid-1980’s for about $700, shortly before Fender bought out the company and moved production to Arizona (I believe). Build quality of the Guilds that Fender produced was not up to the standards of the original company. Occasionally, I would see the “newer” Guilds in guitar shops and consider myself lucky that I had purchased mine before the buy-out.
    I have since seen Guilds that looked like the quality had greatly improved, but I’m not sure if Fender still owns them.
    I do know that my Guild D-50 is a sweet prize. Anytime I play it people comment on its great tone and it only gets better with age. And what an investment! The selling price is now three times what I paid! Would I ever sell it? No.
    Thanks for the article.
    Steve Pirie, Canton, Massachusetts

  2. GuitarsInTheAttic
    Posted December 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    The previous commenter hasn’t a blue what he’s talking about, unfortunately. First off, Guilds were originally produced in New York, then they moved to Hoboken, NJ, THEN to Westerly, RI, then to Corona, CA briefly after the Fender buyout, then to Washington state, and now they are made in Connecticut. I have owned many Guilds from ALL of these factories and I can say they are ALL excellent guitars, however, the Westerly, RI made ones are built heavier than the Hoboken and New York ones, which gives them a more rigid tone, less sweet in general. Still fantastic guitars, but somewhat different. The ones they are making now in Connecticut, at the top end models, are some of the BEST they have ever produced. Of course, that is just my opinion, but you know what they say about those…

    Guild Guitars still represent what they always have – excellent value for the money when compared to equivalent spec Martin, Taylor and Gibson acoustics. They are some of the best production guitars in the USA, period.

  3. skpirie1
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    To my friend “GuitarsInTheAttic” – Thanks for your correction of the Guild production history. We both agree that Guild guitars are comparable to the more heavily advertised Martin, Taylor and Gibson acoustics.
    My D-50 from Westerly, R.I. is weighty for sure. I would describe the tone as “bright” rather than rigid, however. I recently changed the strings to D’Addario Phosphor Bronze .o10 – .047 and use Ebony picks to compensate for the lighter strings. The guitar now has great playability with tone that’s “bright” with a touch of “warmth.”
    Steve Pirie, Canton, Massachusetts

  4. GuitarsInTheAttic
    Posted April 4, 2013 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Great tip on the string change. A lot of players, including me, sometimes forget that can make a huge difference.

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