Winter NAMM 2013

Guild Electrics - they're not just nostalgia anymore.


I know I shouldn’t put this here, and I feel so disloyal. You know how we’ve speculated in the past that FMIC had originally hoped to use their Guild & DeArmond acquisitions to compete with Gretsch, that that’s what the DeArmond electrics were about, and that the subsequent FMIC/Gretsch marketing deal killed Guild electrics, because *then* FMIC didn’t want to cannibalize Gretsch sales with Guilds? Pure invention on our part. I’m told by them what know that such thinking never entered anyone’s mind. Joe insists that he’s not a bit jealous or annoyed by this new Guild thing (and wait’ll you see *what* new Guild thing), because Guilds are their OWN thing. There may even be a synergistic effect between Gretsch and Guild, as there’s a good amount of crossover between fans of the brands. (You listening, Walter? Billy D?) So I’m hoping I’ll be forgiven for having noticed a couple of iconic Guild electrics last night, set up on a platform (along with a slew of Guild acoustics) adjacent to the Gretsch booth. In fact, Gretsch was so crowded I couldn’t get in at first, so I confess I looked at the Guilds before I saw any new Gretschs. I know, I know. Since the guitars on the platform seemed to be all US models, from the American Patriarch Collection, I thought, “sure - a few limited-run, ultra-high-end Guild electrics. Great to see, and a nice development, but.” But indeed. Later in the evening, Mike invited me to a room across the hall to see the *real* new Guild electrics, the ones we mortals can afford, the Newark St. Collection. Be still my beating heart! There was a whole WALL full of nearly every Guild electric I remember. (Caveat: I’m not a fanatic Guild member, and don’t know them all. So if there are some missing, forgive my impression.) Mike explains that the project was turned over to him last May - and I know from the results that he’s worked hard. They’re beautiful, and they seem to be “right.” I played a couple of them (unamplified) and they felt great. Some have virtually irresistible specs (fully enclosed small hollow body, P90s, come on!) - and at their prices (topping out at 1,200.00 street) lots of guys won’t even have to *try* to resist. They’re made at the SPG factory in Korea, where Electromatics are made. (Competing for production capacity is the one way Guild and Gretsch could conflict.) And from all the evidence I could gather in a few minutes, the workmanship is nothing short of gorgeous. The problem with Guild for me has always been the difficulty of finding good examples of desirable models. Assuming these truly capture the vibe (and Mike’s track record of honoring the past while improving the present is impeccable), that will no longer be a problem. So - Guild comes back. *(Does that belong in a Gretsch report? I don’t know. They’re now cousins - or, given Mike Lewis’s shared parenting of both brands, maybe stepbrothers - so I’d like to think it’s all in the family.)* View all comments
Register Sign in