A Guide to Lesser-Known Guild Solidbody Guitars

Ah, Guild. A perennial favorite brand of Reverb staffers and discerning guitarists everywhere.

What started as a group of former Epiphone execs in the '50s quickly grew into one of the quintessential American guitar makers, riding the folk wave of the '60s and building a well-earned reputation for some of the best 12-string acoustics around. Just ask Paul Simon.

In the collective guitar unconscious, Guild is rightfully considered an acoustic brand first. Guild electrics are usually thought of as hollowbodies, like the Starfire guitars and basses seen all over the late-'60s Haight-Ashbury. Rarely do people think of the many solidbody electric guitars the firm has produced over the years.

While the most popular Guild solidbodies are Gibson analogs like the SG-shaped S-100 Polara (which has since been reissued) and single-cutaway Bluesbird, a deeper dig into the annals of Guild history reveals all kinds of oddballs that strike a chord all their own.

In the wake of Guild announcing the reissue of the S-200 this summer, we thought now would be as good a time as ever to showcase some of the more audacious solidbody guitars Guild has produced over the years.


S-200 Thunderbird 1963 - 1968

We'll start our sojourn with the man of the hour: the S-200 Thunderbird. While only produced for about five years in the '60s, this swirvy model has taken on a mythic status owing to its use by a few key players including Muddy Waters and, more recently, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.

Collector interest has forced skyrocketing prices on vintage specimens, which is likely what prompted the new reissue.

While not a totally "out there" design by later standards, this guitar was certainly something different in 1963.

In one of my favorite examples of failed guitar innovations, these instruments actually included a built-in kickstand on the back. This may have something to do with how many vintage examples get listed with repaired headstocks.

Take a look at our recent demo of the newly reissued S-200 T-bird here:

Guild S-200 T-Bird Reissue | Reverb Demo Video

When first entering the solidbody market in this era, Guild rotated a few model designations and shapes around which makes the exact lineage murky. The S-100 number, for example, would eventually be attached to the aforementioned SG-esque model, but an earlier S-100 was really more an immediate predecessor to the Thunderbird.


S-300 1976 - 1982

Guild S-300

The Guild S-300 and S-60 were the two base models in a wider series that debuted in 1976.

Other entries include the S-65 and S-70, all of which were produced with varying wood and pickup configurations. A number of basses were also built using the same basic shape, such as the Guild B-301.

When examined from the right angle, the S-300 and its variants bring new meaning to the term axe. For decades, these fat-bottomed girls hung dormant on pawnshop walls or neglected in suburban basements. But - like with many other Guild guitars - more and more collectors are starting to take notice.


S-100 with Acorn Carvings 1974 - 1977

Acorn engravings on a Guild S-100

There's nothing too outrageous about the baseline S-100 save for a short stint in the '70s when the model and its bass counterpart, the JS-II, were marketed with this amazing acorn and leaf engraving on the body.

These guitars crop up periodically on Reverb with a look that falls somewhere between charming and gaudy. You can decide where. In production from 1974 to 1977, these festively adorned models seem like something that would fit in well with grandma's Christmas decorations.


X-79 Skyhawk 1981 - 1986

Looking at Guild's output across different eras, it's clear that the company has never been bashful about embracing prevailing trends. Nowhere is this more evident than the X series solidbodies of the 1980s.

The gangly, pubescent prince of '80s Guilds is undoubtedly the X-79 Skyhawk (and its reversed counterpart, the X-80 Skylark). No doubt these guitars were designed in response to the growing popularity of Explorers and other angular metal axes of the day. Beyond the lopsided starburst body shape and shredworthy hardware, you often find these guitars with quirky striped and sparkled finishes.

Black & White X-79 Skyhawk
Candy Apple Red X-79 Skyhawk
Pink & Yellow X-79 Skyhawk
Natural X-80 Skylark

X-100 Bladerunner 1984-1985

Guild X-100 Bladerunner

More or less all of the X series Guilds could find a place of honor in this post, but to round things out, we present the X-100 Bladerunner.

Arguably not even a solidbody guitar, Guild collaborated with a firm called David Andrew Design Research on the prototype of this model. They produced around 100 examples between 1984 and 1985. A similar concept could be seen with later guitars from Schecter as well as Gibson's limited edition "Holy Explorer" from 2009.


Other Guild Solidbody Guitars

We could spend all day going through the many Guild solidbodies. The above selection is in no way comprehensive. For now we'll leave you with a smattering of other models that are just as intriguing and just as forgotten as those mentioned above.

Guild S-280
Guild Bluesbird
Guild X-92
Guild X-82 Nova
Guild SB 608
Guild Aviator
Guild T-250
Guild X-88
Guild Flying Star 84
Guild M-80
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