Guild Guitar Company

The Guild Guitar Company is a United States-based guitar manufacturer founded in 1952 by Alfred Dronge, a guitarist and music-store owner, and George Mann, a former executive with the Epiphone Guitar Company. The brand name currently exists as a brand under Córdoba Music Group.[1]

Guild Guitar Company
IndustryMusical instruments
FounderAlfred Dronge
United States
Area served
ProductsAcoustic & electric guitars
Bass guitars
ParentCórdoba Music Group


The Beatles' 1966 Guild Starfire XII 12-string, HRC Honolulu
Beatle John Lennon's 1966 Guild Starfire XII twelve-string
Guild D25M (1979) (by iamchad 8 5753295388)
A 1979 Guild D25M
Guild A-150 Savoy, NAMM 2013
A-150 Savoy
Richie Havens, who famously played a Guild at Woodstock, performing in 2006 with a D40

The first Guild workshop was located in Manhattan, New York, where Dronge (who soon took over full ownership) focused on electric and acoustic archtop jazz guitars. Much of the initial workforce consisted of former Epiphone workers who lost their jobs following their 1951 strike and the subsequent relocation of the company from Queens to Philadelphia.[2] Rapid expansion forced the company to move to much larger quarters, on Newark St. in Hoboken, New Jersey, in the old R. Neumann Leathers building.[3] The advent of the folk music craze in the early '60s had shifted the company into production of an important line of acoustic folk and blues guitars, including a dreadnought series (D-40, D-50 and, later, D-55) that competed successfully with Martin's D-18 and D-28 models, and jumbo and Grand Concert "F" models that were particularly popular with blues guitarists like Dave Van Ronk. Notable also was the Guild 12-string guitar, which used a Jumbo "F" body and dual truss rods in the neck to produce a workhorse instrument with a deep, rich tone distinctive from the chimier twelve-strings put out by Martin.

The company continued to expand, and was sold to the Avnet Corporation, which moved production to Westerly, Rhode Island, in 1966. As the folk scene quieted, a new generation of folk-rockers took Guild guitars on stage. The most notable Guild performance of that era was on the D-40 that Richie Havens played when he opened the Woodstock Festival in 1969.

During the 1960s, Guild moved aggressively into the electric guitar market, successfully promoting the Starfire line of semi-acoustic (Starfire I, II & III) and semi-solid (Starfire IV, V & VI) guitars and basses. A number of early West-Coast psychedelic bands used these instruments, notably guitarists Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia and bassist Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, as well as Jefferson Airplane's bassist Jack Casady. Instrument maker Alembic started their transition from sound and recording work to instrument building by modifying Lesh & Casady's Starfire basses. The rare S-200 Thunderbird solid body electric was used by Muddy Waters and The Lovin' Spoonful's Zal Yanovsky. Inspired by seeing Muddy Waters, Ross Hannaford acquired a Thunderbird, which he used extensively in the period that he played in popular Australian 1970s band Daddy Cool.

Guild also successfully manufactured the first dreadnought acoustic guitar with a "cut-away" in its lower shoulder to allow better access to the lower frets, the D40-C. In 1972, under Guild's new president Leon Tell, noteworthy guitarist/designer Richard "Rick" Excellente came up with the design. It is still made, copied by virtually every guitar manufacturer.

The decline of the folk and acoustic market in the later '70s and early '80s put severe economic pressure on the company. While instrument specialists generally concede that quality suffered at other American competitors, Guild models from the '70s and '80s are considered still made to the high-quality standards the Westerly plant was known for. In the 1980s, Guild introduced a series of Superstrat solid bodies including models such as the Flyer, Aviator, Liberator and Detonator, the Tele-style T-200 and T-250 (endorsed by Roy Buchanan) 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, sometimes called "pointy droopy", "duck foot" and "cake knife" for their distinctive shape.

Fender era

Sofia Talvik 2
Swedish singer Sofia Talvik playing with a Guild in 2010.
Guild Newark St. Collection 1 - A-150 Savoy (Antique Burst), A-150 Savoy (Blonde), X-175 Manhattan (Antique Burst) - NAMM 2013
2013 Guild hollowbodies.

After several changes in management and ownership, Guild was eventually purchased by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation in 1995. In late 2001, Fender decided to shut down the Westerly, RI factory (citing difficulty in climate control and factory production workflow as primary motives) and moved all Guild production to its factory in Corona, California. To ease the Corona facility (which had only made electric guitars up to this point) into making archtop and acoustic guitars, the Westerly factory artisans and workers prepared guitar 'kits' that they shipped to Corona. These kits were near-complete production guitars that only needed finishing and final assembly before being sent to retailers.

Production in Corona was short-lived, however, as Fender acquired the assets of Washington-based Tacoma Guitar Company in 2004, and moved all American Guild acoustic guitar production to Tacoma, Washington and discontinued production of US-made Guild electric guitars completely.

In 2008, Fender again moved Guild when it acquired Kaman Music Corporation and its small production facility in New Hartford, Connecticut, where hand production of all US-made Guilds resumed in a manner consistent with other high-end, boutique guitar builders. The New Hartford Guild facility began production in early 2009, starting with the top-end D-55 and F-50 models. Production quickly ramped up to include most of the popular Traditional Series acoustic guitar models. Acoustic-Electric versions of these models were also made available. Starting with 2012 models, all US-built Guild Traditional Series guitars were available in right- and left-handed configurations.

In 2011, Traditional Series models' were improved by means of a new DTAR pickup system (DTAR-MS, for 'multi-source'), which allows blending between an internal microphone element and an under-saddle transducer. Previous DTAR configurations only included an under-saddle transducer. Also, hard shell case material was upgraded to a high-end, faux alligator skin material with crushed velvet interior padding, closely resembling the Custom Shop guitar cases that Guild had used when its Custom Shop was open.

In late 2010, Guild released its Standard Series acoustic guitars, which were US-built guitars (still manufactured in the New Hartford, Connecticut facility) that were based on models from their top-end Traditional Series. Differences in ornamentation and instrument finish options made them more affordable. Standard Series models included the F-30, F-30R, F-50, D-40, D-50, and the return of the F-212XL 12-string model. All Standard Series models featured red spruce bracing, satin mahogany necks, and bone saddles, nuts, and bridge pins, but have lower-grade wood and different ornamentation than their Traditional Series counterparts.

In 2011, cutaway acoustic-electric versions of all Standard Series models were released. These guitars featured venetian cutaways and a DTAR 18V under-saddle pickup system. These models can be identified by the 'CE' suffix at the end of the guitar's model number. All Guild guitars come with hard shell cases.

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". These models featured unique takes on classic Guild Traditional Series models. GSR models include the F-20 (figured Cocbolo), F-30R (master-grade Rosewood), F-40 (figured Cocobolo), F-50 (figured Koa), and D-50 (figured Cocobolo), and Guild's only electric guitar to be produced since 2003, the GSR Starfire VI (only 20 produced). Each of these instruments features unique designs, wood selection, ornamentation, and has extremely limited production numbers.

Cordoba era

In the late spring/early summer of 2014, Fender's New Hartford Guild facility closed its doors as FMIC prepared to sell off the Guild brand. Cordoba Music Group (CMG), Based in Santa Monica, California, stepped in and purchased the Guild brand rights and began setting up a new manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, led by Gibson alum Ren Ferguson as the VP of Manufacturing and R&D.[4] Cordoba started ramping up production in late 2015, releasing its first models (M-20 and D-20) in early 2016. Higher-end models like the D-55 were released in late 2017.

Guild Import brands

In the early seventies, Guild began to form import brands for acoustic and electric guitars made in Asia. There was a total of 3 import brands: Madeira, Burnside, and DeArmond.

Madeira Acoustic and Electric Guitars were import guitars based on existing Guild designs. They are characterized by their substantially unique pickguard shape and differing headstock.

Similarly to Madeira, Burnside Electric Guitars were Guild electric guitar designs (typically of super-Strat delineation) manufactured outside the United States. The headstocks on these guitars read "Burnside by Guild." Both brands were discontinued in the early '90s.

After Fender purchased Guild in the mid '90s, reissues of some Guild electric guitars were manufactured in Korea under the DeArmond brand name, which Fender also owned the rights to. Import reissue models included the Starfire, X155, T400, M-75 Bluesbird, S-73, and Pilot Bass series. On the front of the headstock, these instruments display the DeArmond logo above a modified version of Guild's Chesterfield logo. On early production versions, the truss rod cover is stenciled with the word 'Guild' stylized and the DeArmond reissue model number, and the back of the headstock is stenciled with 'DeArmond by Guild' above the guitar's serial number. Later production versions drop all references to the Guild brand name except for a modified Chesterfield headstock inlay on most models. The DeArmond line also included other less expensive models similar in design to the Guild reissues and manufactured in Indonesia. The DeArmond brand was discontinued in the early 2000s.

While not a discrete brand, in the early 2000s, FMIC created a new line of Guild acoustic guitars called the GAD-series, which stood for "Guild Acoustic Design." As with the other import lines, these guitars were based on past and present Guild acoustic guitar designs, but were built in China. All of these models were designated with a 'GAD' as a model prefix. These guitars featured poly finishes (as opposed to traditional nitrocellulose lacquer on US models) and nondescript wood grading. FMIC did not choose to create this line under a different brand name, but left it as a new series of guitars from Guild. This choice caused confusion for buyers, as it marked the first time that an import had actually donned the Guild brand name, which had previously only been used to describe US-made guitars. Because of this, it was no longer immediately clear if a Guild-branded guitar is a US-made model or an import, although the GAD models usually had unique ornamentation.

The 2011 GAD models brought new features, looks, and model numbers. These new GAD-series Guild guitars could be identified with a number 1 as the first number in the model number. For example, a US-built F-50R's GAD-level version would be called an F-150R. Similarly, a US-built F-512 would be an F-1512 as a GAD version.

With Cordoba taking over as owners of the Guild brand, as of May, 2015, the GAD line-up was discontinued,[5] but 2 newly formed lines, Westerly Collection (acoustics) and Newark Street (electrics) were revealed, which also aimed to pay homage Guild's production history that took place at those locations (with the Newark Street address alluding to a link with the Hoboken factory).[6] The Westerly Collection line-up includes a variety of guitars made with solid wood tops/laminate sides & body; and, solid wood tops/solid wood sides & solid wood backs.[7]

Notable users of Guild guitars


  1. ^ "Fender Musical Instruments Corporation to Sell Guild Guitars Brand to Cordoba Music Group". Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  2. ^ Acoustic Guitars: The Illustrated Encyclopedia by Tony Bacon and Michael Wright. Chartwell Publications, 2018 ISBN 0785835717 pg 62
  3. ^ "Owner's Manual and Warranty, p.2" (PDF). 2007. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  4. ^ "MMR magazine - Cordoba Names Ren Ferguson VP of Manufacturing/R&D for Guild Brand". Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Introducing: The Westerly Collection - Guild Guitars". Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  6. ^ "History & Heritage - Guild Guitars". Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Westerly Collection - Guild Guitars". Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  8. ^ Moust, H. (1995). The Guild Guitar Book. pp. 82, 137. ISBN 0-634-00966-4.. The photograph of Benson accompanying an interview with him in the Guitar Player Book, published in the 1970s, shows him holding a Guild Artist Award with its strings removed.
  9. ^ Artist to watch: Lera Lynn
  10. ^ "Guitars". John Renbourn. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  11. ^ "TWOGOODEARS - トゥーグッドイアーズ: Music and its tools: Ralph Towner's Guild 12 strings guitar(s)". 2010-10-31. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  12. ^ "Gearbox", Acoustic Guitar, January–February 1991, Issue No. 4, p. 61


  • Acoustic Guitars: The Illustrated Encyclopedia. New York: Chartwell Books. 2011. ISBN 978-0-7858-3571-4.
  • Hans Moust (1995) The Guild Guitar Book. Hal Leonard Corporation. Roger Hodgson - F-512, Ted Kaplan (aka Teddy Rose) - F212/F412xl

External links

Ashbory bass

The Ashbory bass, invented by Alun Ashworth-Jones and designed by Nigel Thornbory, is an 18-inch scale fretless (but marked) electric bass developed in 1985. This scale is just over half the length of the 34-inch scale of an ordinary bass guitar. When amplified, the Ashbory produces a low, resonant bass tone similar to the tone of a pizzicato (plucked) double bass.

Big Muff

The Big Muff Pi (π), often known simply as the Big Muff, is a fuzzbox produced in New York City by the Electro-Harmonix company, along with their Russian sister company Sovtek, primarily for use with the electric guitar. It is used by bassists as well due to the Big Muff's squeaky frequency response.

Doyle Dykes

Doyle Dykes (born May 23, 1954) is an American country acoustic guitarist from Jacksonville, Florida. He is influenced by a wide variety of musical styles and musicians such as Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Duane Eddy, to the Beatles and U2. Cited along with guitarists such as Tommy Emmanuel as one of the best fingerstyle guitarists in the world, he is also known for his capability of playing proficiently with a wide range of different guitar tunings. Some of his best-known works and interpretations are "Wabash Cannonball", "Country Fried Pickin'", "U2 Medley", "Be Still", "Amazing Grace" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". Dykes is a devout Christian and has served as a minister in a small church in Florida; the influence of Christianity is present in much of his work. He was a major endorser of Taylor Guitars and Rivera Sedona amplifiers, with his own signature models of each. In 2013 he began endorsing the Guild Guitar Company. Since 2015 he has touted his custom steel-fret Olson guitar as his "favorite guitar."

Duke Robillard

Michael John "Duke" Robillard (born October 4, 1948) is an American guitarist and singer. He founded the band Roomful of Blues and was a member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Although Robillard is known as a rock and blues guitarist, he also plays jazz and swing.


Electro-Harmonix is a New York-based company that makes high-end electronic audio processors and sells rebranded vacuum tubes. The company was founded by Mike Matthews in 1968. It is best known for a series of popular guitar effects pedals introduced in the 1970s and 1990s. Unknown to most people, EH also made a line of guitars in the 70's.During the mid-1970s Electro-Harmonix established itself as a pioneer and leading manufacturer of guitar effects pedals. Electro-Harmonix was the first company to introduce, manufacture, and market affordable state-of-the art "stomp-boxes" for guitarist and bassists, such as the first stomp-box flanger (Electric Mistress), the first analog echo/delay unit with no moving parts (Memory Man), the first guitar synthesizer in pedal form (Micro Synthesizer), and the first tube-amp distortion simulator (Hot Tubes). In 1980, Electro-Harmonix also designed and marketed one of the first digital delay/looper pedals (16-Second Digital Delay) and a line of guitars in the 70's.

Epiphone Texan

The Epiphone Texan is an acoustic flattop guitar of the (advanced) Jumbo type. Recent models have an integrated light-weight internal electric pickup fitted; the original model was acoustic only.

Erik Mongrain

Erik Mongrain (born April 12, 1980 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada) is a Canadian composer and guitarist. He has a unique and dark acoustic style, with a wide array of different techniques, approaches and textures reminiscent of Michael Hedges.

Fender Musical Instruments Corporation

Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC, or simply Fender) is an American manufacturer of stringed instruments and amplifiers. Fender produces acoustic guitars, electric basses, bass amplifiers and public address equipment, but is best known for its solid-body electric guitars and bass guitars, particularly the Stratocaster, Telecaster, Precision Bass, and the Jazz Bass. The company was founded in Fullerton, California, by Clarence Leonidas "Leo" Fender in 1946. Its headquarters are in Scottsdale, Arizona.

FMIC is a privately held corporation, with Andy Mooney serving as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The company filed for an initial public offering in March 2012, but this was withdrawn five months later. In addition to its Scottsdale headquarters, Fender has manufacturing facilities in Corona, California (US) and Ensenada, Baja California (Mexico).As of July 10, 2012, the majority shareholders of Fender were the private equity firm of Weston Presidio (43%), Japanese music distributors Yamano Music (14%) and Kanda Shokai (13%) and Servco Pacific (5%). In December 2012, TPG Growth (the middle market and growth equity investment platform of TPG Capital) and Servco Pacific took control of the company after acquiring the shares held by Weston Presidio.

Guild (disambiguation)

A guild is an association of craftspeople in a particular trade.

Guild may also refer to:

Guild (computer gaming), an organized group of players that regularly play video games together

The Guild (web series), a comedy series created by Felicia DayGuild (ecology)

Guild (permaculture)Guild (surname)

Guild, Missouri, a community in the United States

Guild Inn, park and hotel in Toronto

Guild Guitar Company, a guitar manufacturerEuropa 1400: The Guild, a video game

The Guild 2, sequel to Europa 1400: The Guild

Guild (video game series), game compilations Guild01 and Guild02 from Level-5

Guild S-100

The Guild S-100 electric guitar is a lightweight solid-body guitar made by the Guild Guitar Company. It features two humbucking pickups and its body is styled similarly to a Gibson SG, but is slightly offset. In the 1970s, a version of this guitar was available from the factory with leaves and acorns carved in relief into the body of the guitar.

Players of the Guild S-100 have included Carrie Brownstein of Wild Flag and Sleater-Kinney, Tim Kinsella of Joan of Arc, Chris McCaughan of The Lawrence Arms, Kim Thayil of Soundgarden, Stephen Malkmus, Bobb Trimble, and Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople.

Heritage Guitars

Heritage Guitar is a guitar manufacturer in Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States.

Ivor Mairants

Ivor Mairants (b. 18 July 1908 c.20 February 1998) was a jazz and classical guitarist, teacher and composer. With his wife Lily in 1958 he created the Ivor Mairants Musicentre, a specialist guitar store in London.

Johnny Smith

Johnny Henry Smith II (June 25, 1922 – June 11, 2013) was an American cool jazz and mainstream jazz guitarist. He wrote "Walk, Don't Run" in 1954. In 1984, Smith was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

Kristian Ranta

Kristian Ranta, also known as Kride, was the guitarist of the Finnish melodic death metal band Norther, until their break up in 2012. Kristian has composed most of Norther's best known songs including Frozen Angel, and is also credited for renaming the band (originally called Requiem). Ranta has played the guitar on all the band's full-length albums, the most recent being Circle Regenerated (2011) and N (2008), and contributed clean vocals to the Solution 7 EP, Till Death Unites Us, the No Way Back EP and N. He has formed an experimental side project named Gashouse Garden with Children of Bodom drummer Jaska Raatikainen.

Kristian has also acted, along with his band mates, in a Finnish film called Vares 2. Norther and Kristian also composed a title track for this film called Frozen Angel, for which a music video, featuring images of the movie, was made. He was also interviewed in a TV documentary about Finnish heavy metal bands - Promised Land of Heavy Metal - (2009).Kristian was a co-founder and CEO of a Finnish diabetes technology company called Mendor

until he left the company in November 2015. A well known Finnish businessman Risto Siilasmaa, served at the Mendor Board of Directors and is an investor in the company.Later in 2015 Kristian co-founded a company called Blooming to work on stress reduction at workplaces. Blooming was featured in TechCrunch in March 2016. Kristian was also featured in the biggest newspaper in Finland called Helsingin Sanomat in the summer of 2016 (text in Finnish).With the lead of Kristian as its CEO, Blooming changed its name in 2016 to Meru Health and focused on building a digital treatment solution for depression and anxiety. In 2018 Meru Health got accepted to a famous startup accelerator in Silicon Valley called Y Combinator and has appeared on number of main stream media publications such as TechCrunch , INC and MobiHealthNews. In 2018 Kristian started his own featured blog on Forbes magazine.


Musitronics, often shortened to Mu-tron, was a manufacturer of electronic musical effects active in the 1970s. Founded by Mike Beigel and Aaron Newman, the company's product line focused on filtering and processing effects derived from synthesizer components. The company was known for producing high-quality products with many user-adjustable parameters, but high production costs and a failed product line, the Gizmotron, caused its downfall.

Their best-known product was the Mu-tron III envelope filter, "the world's first envelope-controlled filter", first made in 1972 and quickly becoming an essential effect for many funk musicians. It was taken in production again, in a modified version, in 2014.

Mu-Tron III

The Mu-Tron III is an envelope filter made by Musitronics Corporation. "The world's first envelope-controlled filter" was first made in 1972 by Mike Beigel and quickly became an essential effect for many funk musicians. It was taken in production again, in a modified version, in 2014.

Ovation Guitar Company

The Ovation Guitar Company is a manufacturer of guitars. Ovation primarily manufactures steel-string acoustic guitars (both 6 and 12-string versions) and nylon-string acoustic guitars, often with pickups for electric amplification. In 2015, it became a subsidiary of Drum Workshop after being acquired from KMCMusicorp.The company's Ovation and Adamas guitars are known for their round backs, which gives them a recognizable shape. The latter are also well known for the use of carbon fiber tops (instead of the typically wood tops for acoustic guitars). Among musicians the relatively thin neck stands out as well, compared to other acoustic guitars.

Red Special

The Red Special is the electric guitar designed and built by Queen's guitarist Brian May and his father, Harold, when Brian was a teenager in the early 1960s. The Red Special is also sometimes referred to, by May and by others, as the Fireplace or the Old Lady. The name Red Special came from the reddish-brown colour the guitar attained after being stained and painted with numerous layers of Rustins Plastic Coating. The name Fireplace is a reference to the fact that the wood used to make the neck came from a fireplace mantel.A guitar that would define May's signature style, it was intentionally designed to feed back after he saw Jeff Beck playing live and making different sounds just by moving the guitar in front of the amplifier. He wanted an instrument that would be alive and interact with him and the air around him. May has used the Red Special almost exclusively, including on Queen albums and in live performances since the band's advent in the early 1970s.

In celebration of the instrument's 50th anniversary, a book about its construction and history, Brian May’s Red Special: The Story of the Home-Made Guitar that Rocked Queen and the World, was written by Brian May with Simon Bradley.

Westerly, Rhode Island

Westerly is a town on the southwestern shoreline of Washington County, Rhode Island, first settled by English colonists in 1661 and incorporated as a municipality in 1669. It is a beachfront community on the south shore of the state with a population of 22,787 as of the 2010 census.

The Pawcatuck River flows on the western border of Westerly and was once renowned for its own species of Westerly salmon, three of which are on the town's official seal. The river flows from 15 mi (24 km) inland, emptying into Little Narragansett Bay. It also serves as the boundary between Westerly and Pawcatuck, Connecticut. Three large salt ponds lie along the coast of Westerly which serve as shallow, reef-like pools whose outer walls form the long, white beaches for which the town is renowned. From west to east, these ponds are Maschaug Pond, Winnapaug Pond, and Quonochontaug Pond.

The Westerly area was known for its granite and stone-cutting industry, which quarried a unique stone known as Westerly granite. This pinkish granite is ideal for statuary and has been used in numerous government buildings of several states on the eastern seaboard.Westerly becomes a popular tourist destination during the summer months, during which the population nearly doubles. Its well-known beaches include Weekapaug Beach, Westerly Town Beach, Misquamicut State Beach, East Beach, and Watch Hill Beach.

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