When it comes to famous Bobs in rock, Dylan is first to mind. But just behind him is another songwriting behemoth – Marley. As it turns out, the Jamaican icon wrote most of his reggae anthems not on his famous red Les Paul Special, but on an old Guild Madeira. That guitar is resurrected here as a value-priced tribute model.
The Guild Marley A-20 is a dreadnought with solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany back and sides, mahogany neck, and pau ferro fretboard with a 16″ radius. Details are kept to a tasteful minimum, aside from a “Marley” inlay at the 12th fret and reproduced signature on the pickguard. A smooth satin finish, dual-action truss, scalloped bracing, and strap peg on the neck add to the package. Other amenities include Bob Marley tribute picks, a booklet with the story of Marley’s original Guild, a chord chart for his anthem “Three Little Birds,” and a gig bag made of recycled nylon. In keeping with an earth-friendly appeal, Guild partnered with the nonprofit One Tree Planted to plant a tree for every A-20 built.
In hand, the A-20 delivers above-average sonics in this price range, offering a surprising blast of volume and the critical bass dimension one expects from a dreadnought. It’s a bright and bold tone, enough to inspire a song or new chord progression. The C-shaped neck is comfortable enough, though action on our tester was on the high side.
The under-$400 acoustic category is pretty competitive, but the A-20 delivers the Marley pedigree and surprisingly robust tone. If you need a good dread for writing and jamming, it’s a solid-top contender. So, get up, stand up – and go strum one for yourself.
This article originally appeared in VG’s February 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.