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1964 Guild Artist Award
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Serial #: 33633, Hoboken, NJ label
Body size at lower bout:17" Scale length: 24 3/4" Nut width: 1 10/16" Neck Depth: .86/.96. 1st/10th frets
Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid spruce top; figured tiger flame maple back and neck; solid maple sides; solid ebony fingerboard with mother of pearl/abalone split-block fingerboard; ornate "pitcher and star" abalone/pearl peghead inlay; 7-ply body and headstock binding, double-bound f-holes, solid bone nut.
Hardware: 100% original hardware, including engraved gold harp tailpiece; gold Grover Imperial tuners; Guild logo pickguard; floating DeArmond Model 1000 Rhythm Chief pickup with volume control and 1/4" jack; compensated adjustable ebony bridge; 'Custom' truss rod cover.
Notes: Introduced as the Johnny Smith Award in 1956, Guild's top of the line guitar was rechristened the Artist Award in 1961. Individually handmade by the most experienced builders at the shop, the Artist Award continued to sport appointments seen only on ultra-deluxe instruments of the 30's and 40's, including a full seven plies of binding on both the body and the peghead. The deep ebony fingerboard is trimmed with three plies of inner binding on the face, just like the old Epiphone Emperor, whose ornate split-block fingerboard inlay was continued in the Artist Award as well. Even the f-holes are double bound. Production has always been extremely limited, and since the model was retired in the early 2000's, the Guild Artist Award has been avidly pursued by players and collectors alike.
Hand crafted in Guild's historic Hoboken workshop, Artist Award models from this vintage are rare indeed, and of particular interest to players, as they are one of the only full size 17" archtops fitted with a 24 3/4" scale neck. As used on the ES-175, Les Paul and most all Gibson electrics, this shorter scale affords faster runs and easier stretches, making it popular with generations of discriminating performers. By 1969 Guild had lengthened the scale to 25 1/2", making these shorter scale models a highly desirable rarity.
The gentle D profile neck is slim and elegant as well, ideal for the player unwilling to wrestle a clunky old-school neck. Other vintage touches include the Grover Imperial tuners with prewar style art deco housings, 'Custom' truss rod cover, and white face DeArmond 1000 Rhythm Chief pickup, inscribed with Guild's own logo. Finally, this handsome instrument would have been one of the last to be fitted with the ornate hand-engraved gold harp tailpiece, soon phased out by a die-cast replacement.
With a back of deeply figured fiddleback maple, this unusually pristine example has been maintained by its original owner with 100% original finish and hardware, free of cracks, pick, or fingerboard wear. Apart from a few traces of thumbwear on the curly maple neck, and a few scattered finish nicks, this gleaming guitar appears much as it did when it left the factory over five decades ago. Even the typical lacquer checking one expects on finishes of this vintage is almost entirely absent.
The action is smooth and low over fine medium jumbo frets on the solid ebony fingerboard, and the solid bone nut is gently scalloped as well. The voice is warm, open and utterly captivating, with the depth and resonance of a soundboard aged over half a century. The original De Armond 1100 pickup offers clear, detailed tone, faithful to the acoustic voice, and now a costly collector's item. A plus is the 1/4" jack under the pickguard, gig-ready for any standard guitar cable. All nestled in its original deluxe Guild plush lined hardshell case, with its snappy sharkskin covering.
If you've been searching for a true '60s vintage top-line, all-carved American jazz guitar at a price within reason, best not dawdle. These beauties are hard to find, and an outstanding value to boot. Straight from the time-capsule: one only, call now.
Setup: This instrument is strung with medium gauge nickel flatwound strings. The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 4/64" to 5/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.
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