The Guild That Got Away

BMI affiliated published songwriter since 1979
Producer/engineer and A&R for Captain Blue Records since 1980

Instructor at DeMelfi School of Music since 2005
Instructor at Inner Sound Studio since 2015

NSAI member since 2014 - Certified member


The Guild That Got Away

Back in February of 1971 I had just returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam and was still in the army, stationed at Ft. Lewis, Wa., waiting for my enlistment period to expire. I had stopped in a small guitar shop in Tacoma, Washington and saw a small body Guild guitar hanging on the wall. It had a sunburst finish and was really beautiful. I had some extra cash and decided to buy it for the price of $300. It was the most beautiful sounding guitar I had ever heard. I couldn't do anything to make that guitar sound bad. Even the mistakes sounded good!

Not realizing what a gem I had, after returning home in December of 1971, I traded it in on a 12 string because I loved the sound of the 12 string. The instrument however was difficult to play and I didn't keep it for very long. I ended up trading that in on another 6-string of lesser quality than the Guild I had.

To this day, I have yet to find another guitar that sounded as sweet as that Guild. I looked on Ebay, thinking I could maybe pick up a used one for around $100, but much to my surprise, I couldn't find any used Guild guitar for under $2500. It was at that point that I realized the true value of what I had let slip through my fingers.

While in New York City I stopped as Sam Ash music and saw some new high end Guild guitars that were priced around $4000 and played them. My $1100 Fender Grand Auditorium guitar actually sounded better. Fender had purchased Guild in 1995, and although Fender does make some really great acoustic guitars, the quality of the Guilds has gone down. They no longer seem to have that Pre-Fender Guild sound.

I had been telling this story for many years to other guitar players, teachers and students. Then one day recently one guitar student, Dean Reinbold told me that he saw a Guild guitar for under $1000 on a the web site of the York Music Shop, in York, Pa. I took a look and there was a 1991 D15 Dreadnaught for $495, and it was in great shape. We had planned to take a trip to York, which is about an hour and a half from us, and take a look at it and play it to hear what it sounds like.

Dean was taking off work on a Tuesday so we could make the trip. I was making a trip to Baltimore on the Monday before that, and would be passing right by York. I called him to confirm that our trip was still on, and he said he couldn't make it because he had people coming to his house on Tuesday, so I took a detour from my Baltimore trip and stopped at the York Guitar Shop.

The people there were great. They knew everything about that guitar like the construction and the date. I played it and instantly fell in love with it. I wasn't about to let a find like this get away again, so I took out my credit card and bought it.

I completed my trip to Baltimore, where I met up with another guitar player, Deva-kant, and we jammed for awhile with both my Guild and his Martin. We both loved the sound of the guild, and discussed how the unusual use of solid mahogany for top as well as back and sides gave it a very unique voice, how the 19 years of aging has improved the sound, and many other characteristics. This is truly a high end guitar, that if it were sold as a new item today, would most likely sell for around $4,000. This was truly a great find. Like the Taylor Sappe of 1971, the person who sold this guitar obviously didn't realize the value of what they had.

Dean Reinbold gets a special thanks for steering me in this direction. THANKS DEAN!!!!!

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