Though a well-known brand in the music business, Guild guitars have only been around since 1952, when a Polish music-store owner named Alfred Dronge founded the company in New York.
During the 1950s, Guild staked its reputation on archtop guitars. Some of the most collectible vintage Guild guitars from that decade are its acoustic archtops, such as the A-50 Granada, which had a laminated-maple body with a sunburst finish, a rosewood bridge and fingerboard, and a three-piece mahogany and maple neck.
Production of flattop guitars started in 1954, and by the 1960s, Guild had mostly left its archtop origins behind. Of its early F-body guitars, the Bluegrass F-40 was introduced that first year—along with the F-50, it is particularly collectible. The Bluegrass had a celluloid-tortoiseshell pickguard, an arched maple back, and pearloid inlays on the fingerboard, beginning at the third fret.
Guild also made electric instruments, and like its early acoustic guitars, these first electrics were archtops. The DE-500 (DE for Duane Eddy) from 1962 is one of the most sought after vintage Guild electrics, as is the sunburst X-500 from 1953. Not as collectible, but worthy of note, is the Starfire, which, in 1967, Jerry Garcia played on the Grateful Dead’s first studio album. Of the Guild solid body electrics, the Brian May models from the 1980s capture the most collector attention.
Finally, Guild also produced electric basses, but not until the early 1960s. Chris Hillman of The Byrds played one, as did the Jefferson Airplane’s Jack Casady, whose bass of choice was a semi-hollow Starfire before he switched to Alembics. As for the company’s B-50 flattop acoustic bass from 1975, it was clearly ahead of its time.