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MGR/golftango 04/28/2004

Guild GAD-50 : MGR/golftango's user review

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I purchased this instrument from SameDayMusic.com for $675 in lieu of spending $1500 for a Guild D50 which was my original choice until I came across this model with nearly identical specs.

This guitar, which seems to be a close copy of the Guild D50, is made in China. I had very low expectations for it and was thinking myself extremely stupid for ordering a musical instrument over the internet. But it arrived this morning and the quality is utterly fantastic.

I'm not that great a guitar player, but a long time ago I worked in a music store under a master-class violin maker and learned to appreciate the qualities of fine stringed instruments. Back then I chose a Guild D50 of all the fine guitars in the store to buy for myself.

While shopping for another D50 I came across this GAD-50 and the specs seemed very close to the D50 at about 1/3 the price. The catch was the 'made in China' thing.

Bottom line is that it arrived this morning and, in spite of my low expectations, I was overwhelmed at the quality, workmanship, construction and tone of this instrument considering the price. The action feels the same as my old D50 and the tone and projection seem identical also.

The verdict is still out on the clear pickguard. It does give the guitar a distinct look, but not sure how it'll look with some wear on it.

Some of the deluxe bits of the D50 were left off such as the ebony fretboard, the abalone fretboard inlays, the herringbone around the top, and the tortois shell pickguard. None of these items affect the tonal quality or playability.

I'm deducting just a couple of points for fingerprints on the tuning head and a blemish in the spruce top. The blemish (actually just a dark area in the grain) does not bother me at all since it indicates natural wood was used and gives the guitar some character.

The action is low. The neck is arrow-straight. The tonal quality, sustain and projection are every bit as good as I remember my old D50 from the 1970's being. The tuners are solid and rugged. A very nice hardshell case was included with a distinctive 'antique' look. It was shipped correctly with strings 1 full tone low and tuned up to normal without any hesitation.

My expectations for this Chinese copy of a Guild D50 were very low and I was prepared to discard this one and get the real thing. After receiving this model, I have no need to search out the American-made real thing.

This seems a fantastic value-- a well-made copy of one of the most famous and favored of the fingerpicking style guitars, the 1970's & 80's Guild D50, for about 1/3 the price.

The only question is to the durability and longevity and it has not been out long enough for any history to accumulate. BTW, the serial number on my unit is 001xx so I probably received one of the first batch off the line.

This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com