Join The Guild - Snapshot of Guild Guitars
Tundra Music is Toronto's Largest Authorized Guild dealer. Our U.S.A models are all hand picked at the factory in New Hartford and with our Vintage guitar background you can bet yourself we picked the best, click here to browse our Guild Guitars! Please have a quick read below as we are proud to share some history and highlights of the brand. Feel free to browse the product offerings and contact us with any questions in choosing the right model for you.
The Guild Guitar name is often overlooked in the history of the fiercely competitive American guitar market. In business since 1952, Guild has undergone several changes in ownership, and its production facilities have moved back and forth across the country. But whatever company or region to have branded its name, Guild has crafted quality American-made guitars for the better part of a century that have been the go-to instrument for generations of musicians.
Guild Guitars got their start in the Little Italy area of New York City by founder Al Dronge and his partner George Mann, who was a former manager with Epiphone guitars. After a yearlong partnership, Dronge took the reins of Guild and moved to New Jersey. It was here that he capitalized on the area's skilled craftsmen, previously employed by other music factories, while utilizing his contacts in the music industry to build up the company and get the Guild name out.
Given the popularity of jazz at the time, Guild targeted jazz musicians and made mostly acoustic and electric archtop guitars. The company set itself apart from much of the competition by offering customizations like different pickups, inlays and finishes, to meet the needs of individual artists. As years progressed and genres changed, Guild adjusted its production accordingly and began making flattop guitars and other models to meet the sound needs of blues, rock, and pop musicians.
In the 1960s, Guild released its Starfire series of semi-acoustic guitars, which to this day remain one of its most popular models. They then started producing solid-bodied electrics like the Jet Star and Thunderbird models and began making certain design changes standard to give Guild guitars a unique look over their competitors. In 1966, Guild was bought and incorporated into the Avnet corporation and again moved its facilities to Rhode Island. Throughout the rest of the decade, the company continued to release new acoustic and electric models, including the F-hole ST models, and electric bass guitars.
Whether using acoustic or electric varieties, the transitioning era between the 1960s and 70s is when musicians really started popularizing the Guild name. Richie Havens performed with a Guild acoustic at Woodstock in 1969 while defining bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Muddy Waters relied on Guild series in their guitar arsenal. Despite the death of Al Dronge in 1972, the Rhode Island factory continued to build upon the Guild legacy and produced unique and original models to keep up with the times throughout the 70s and 80s, like the Fender-modeled Superstrat series.
Guild changed hands twice more in the 80s, first when it was bought back by Al Dronge's son, Mark, and again in 1988 when it was auctioned to the FASS Corporation after a near merger with Gibson. The most defining change to the history of the Guild Guitar Company came in 1995 when it was purchased by Fender Musical Instruments. And though it was a defining moment well received by Guild craftsmen, Fender couldn’t seem to make up its mind about the fate of Guild. In 2001, Guild assembly moved to Fender's California location where pre-made kits were shipped in from the Rhode Island outlet.