Since its arrival in 1954, the chambered Guild Aristocrat and it’s later solid cousin, the Bluesbird, have offered an alternative to the single-cutaway Les Paul and Gretsch Duo-Jet. Decades later, Guild’s modern HH model offers a twin-humbucker, carved-top axe with upscale looks and special features.
Chambered with all-mahogany construction and a traditional 24.75″ neck scale, the Aristocrat HH’s pau Ferro fretboard has a 12″ radius with Pearloid block inlays. Its Guild harp tailpiece, black pickguard, aged binding, gold tophat knobs and hardware, and open-gear tuners add old-school accents.
A beefy but comfortable neck profile sits between a C and D shape, perfect for grabbing big chords. Like a Les Paul, it has a considerable heel, so despite having 22 frets, it’s more conducive to playing below the 18th. Those medium-jumbo frets feel smaller in relation to the large neck profile, creating something of a “fretless wonder” effect.
In hand, it’s a welcome relief to those seeking a lighter guitar – tipping the scale around eight pounds. It also offers an airier tone than a solid-body, delivering more vibe and resonance than you might expect, so feel free to dive into those AC/DC and Who riffs with glee.
The HB-2 humbuckers are full-sounding, but if you pull up the individual Volume knobs, you’ll find a coil-split circuit to deliver more vintage tones. It’s not Fender twang, but more like a semi-hollow-body or something with P-90s.
The Aristocrat HH is a very likeable axe and a welcome respite from back-breaking single-cuts. If you want to make a mark outside the norm, it covers a lot of ground thanks to the coil-splits, from clean and full to balls-out rock. And then there’s that classy, uncluttered look, which will immediately make you stand out from the pack.
This article originally appeared in VG March 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.