Guild has spent the last few years reinvigorating their once proud name from antiquity and stepping keenly back into the spotlight. What shall now be referred to as ‘The Fender Years’, were by no means a period of doom and gloom, merely a chapter where the attention these guitars deserved was poured unto bigger, more lime-lit axes. The Westerly Collection, from whence arises the OM240CE, is the unplugged half of the two-pronged charge made by the company back to prominence and indeed providence that should see that famous art deco logo back where it belongs amongst the most revered names in acoustic guitar Avalon.
One thing I love about the new and improved Guild is the attention to older details. Westerly guitars purport to be directly, almost solely, influenced by builds from the Rhode Island era in the company’s history, hence the name. The biggest draw-card with the 240CE, which sits around the middle of this range pricewise, is the reappearance of the arch back design that set even their earliest, jazz focused builds apart from their contemporaries. First manufactured as early as ’54, Guild’s builders pioneered a technique of pressing the front and back faceplates of their guitars as an inexpensive alternative to carving out slabs of solid maple. This not only rendered early flagship models like the F40 or D25 lighter than any other guitar in the shop, it also gave them an extraordinary capacity for clarity and projection without handling like a Buick.
The 2016 descendant of this turning point in guitar design certainly lives up to its history. Solid spruce across the top combines with the density of mahogany and rosewood to accentuate this pronounced, chiming voicing with a confident – yet not overly drawn out – sustain aided along by compensated bone in the nut and saddles. The deep ‘V’ shaped neck might not be everyone’s cup of tea (it certainly is mine), but far from being obnoxiously pointy and carpal tunnel inducing, it sits in a much more centered and comfortable groove in your grip meaning that your thumb is still in play if it’s called upon for fretting.
One slightly more modern touch is the matte polyurethane finish, which not only makes it feel like velvet in your hands, but relives you of the need to sand down the back of the neck so that you don’t go sliding all over the place. Far from being a concession to current trends, this only serves the purpose of making the guitar feel and play like a guitar ten times its age.
The whole Westerly Collection is tied together with one of the more transparent sounding, almost ‘invisible to the casual observer’ piezo pickups I’ve heard; the Guild designed AP-1, and vintage style open gear tuners – simultaneous nods to the fact that this is a modern update that carries behind it a rich heritage. The 240CE sings lively of it’s history and is a clear reminder of the quality that made Guild the once and future prince of American guitars.
For more details, head to zenithmusic.com.au.