Original Guilds are beautiful, and highly functional guitars. If you are lucky enough to own a Starfire, Stuart, Polara, Bluesbird, Duane Eddy or any other vintage model, you'll already know this. In todays climate, a quality vintage instrument, like a Guild, is a great investment and well worth looking after. If your Guild is missing parts, they are well worth replacing with the right part. Modifying an instrument for a quick fix can heavily reduce value to a collector, and should be avoided at all costs!
Guild guitars started in New York in 1952, under the ownership of Alfred Dronge; an accomplished jazz musician and music-store owner. Like its rivals, Gibson and Epiphone, Guild made some very fine instruments: jazz archtops, like the CE-100 Capri and highly regarded acoustics such as the F-50 Navarre. In 1956, production was moved to Hoboken, New Jersey, where it stayed until 1969. This was a great time for Guild, creating legendary instruments such as semi-acoustic Starfire guitars and basses, the solidbody Thunderbird and Jetstar, and semi-hollow M-75 Bluesbird, and M-85 bass. Although production numbers never rivalled Gibson, quality certainly did, and older Guild guitars are highly prized by collectors and players alike.
Towards the end of the sixties, all American guitar manufacturers were running into difficulties; economic pressures, including competition from overseas, was forcing change. In 1967, electronics company Avnet bought Guild, with Dronge staying on, and in 1969 the company moved again, this time to Rhode Island. Throughout the seventies and early 1980s, Guild tried many things to keep its position; solibodies redesigned to look like Gibsons (the SG-style S-100), aswell as other designs unlike anything seen before (such as the outrageous X-79 Skyhawk). Dronge was killed in a plane crash in 1972, and alas, the cohesion he gave the company was gone, and Guild started a slow decline. In 1986 Avnet sold up, and Guild did little until 1995 when Fender bought the company, and reissues of classic models, once again became available.
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