Setting aside the enormous political upheaval, sexual liberation and general exploration of selfhood that the human race did, so much of what happened in those glorious decades still resounds tremendously in so much of what we do, make, say and think. I wonder if people on the ground knew how profound just about every little thing they did would turn out to be and what it would be like to get about your business with that much electricity in the air? More specifically, today I wonder what the luthiers working at Guild’s Newark St factory knew of the legacy that flowed from their hands every time they picked up a lump of wood, dreaming of it becoming one of their instruments?
A LOOK BACK
The Newark St range that Guild offers today is far and away one of the more faithful approximations of an entire era by an instrument maker. Not only has the company returned to form since it’s schism from Fender a few years ago, but they are putting out guitars today that rival the builds that made their name in the first place. My hat goes off to them time and time again. Brand new Starfires are as good, if not better than the ‘70s ones, the Polara and acoustic ranges have SGs and Martin respectively running for their money and, last but not least, the T-50 Slim is just about the nicest guitar I’ve ever had my grubby mitts on.
There’s something about arch-top electrics that demands a bit of extra attention from the player; where modern shredders do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, the elder statesmen of the league ask a bit more of your hands and in the end are, for me, a more satisfying experience. This particular old mate T-50 is set up quite low to the Indian rosewood fretboard, lending itself to some quick, jazzy runs. The neck is a comfortable, even ‘C’ shape and balances out nicely as it rises high off the shoulder of the slim-line, maple body. It sits light and familiar on your lap like an acoustic, but has all the sustain of a solid slab of ax like a Les Paul. Even though it’s fresh off the workbench, it feels lived in as an old bar.
Although it sounds pristine even before you plug it in, with an incredible amount of projection for such a thin hollow-body, the signature P90 style dog-ear pick up is the real gold tooth on this old pirate. Modelled intimately on the original pickups as manufactured by Franz of New York back in the day, they’re packed with all the clang and calamity you’d expect with everything at 10. There’s almost no bottom of the well of possibility in the pots though; wheel in anything from woolen blanket warmth to delicate, almost ghostly sensitivity. All of this is down to the sheer sensitivity and attention to detail paid in putting the design together. From the bone nut, past the pinned rosewood mount under the hard tail bridge to the iconic harp style trapeze tailpiece, every inch of this guitar is as faithful as it is masterfully built. Long story short, I hope they did know how important every thing they made back then is to us now. I hope every wood shaving and drop of lacquer that fell to the floor was charged with the joy and satisfaction of playing this T-50 Slim and I hope Guild never let it wane.
For more information, visit zenithmusic.com.au.