An Asian Take on an American Classic
The Guild Acoustic Design series, or GAD for short, introduced in 2004, was designed to offer guitars with premium specifications at affordable prices. It gives price-conscious players the opportunity to step into the Guild world and get a high quality, all-solid wood guitar without breaking the bank. Most of the models in this series are loosely based on classic Guild models.
The Guild GAD-50 is a foreign-made equivalent of Guild’s brilliant D-50 Bluegrass Special, an American classic renowned for its balanced, articulate sound and loud projection. It’s astounding that the GAD-50 offers so much for so little money. The guitar literally cost half the price of its American cousin, yet the two guitars share most of the same amenities. The principle difference is the Made in China label. For many, that label remains a deal breaker. Chinese factories infamously mass-produced innumerable heaps of terrible plywood guitars for decades. This is nothing like what Guild is producing.
Guild’s GAD series comes from a modern Chinese factory that utilizes the best materials, modern machinery and skilled luthiers, just as you would find in the States. They do everything right, including a Dovetail neck joint construction for superior tone transfer and excellent structural stability and a bone nut and saddle for better tone/sound transfer. The DAG also uses Grover® Rotomatic™ tuners just like the D-50 and comes with a Fishman® Matrix™ under-saddle pickup with end-pin jack, which sounds great plugged in and offers nearly invisible controls inside the sound hole for you purists that don’t want an extra hole in the side of your guitar.
The GAD-50 feels like the real deal; it’s big and solid, making your chest resonate when you hit a “G” chord. The one thing that bugs me about the GAD-50 is the finish. I wish they had used the nitrocellulose like they do on the American made D-50. The GAD employs High Gloss Poly. Maybe I’m imagining it, but I think I can hear a difference. The poly finish looks good and is very durable, but I love the way an old Guild nitro finish cracks over time and the wood seems to breathe a bit more. That having been said, is this small difference really worth twice the price? If I was a rich guy, hell yeah, but I’m not, so I would happily go with the GAD-50.
Read the rest of our “Recession-Ready Acoustics” feature from the July/August 2010 issue here.