Guild and Taylor make our acoustic top ten…
Guild F412 1968
Big, bold and beautiful, Guild’s favourite 12-string was this blonde bombshell
Although originally set up in New York, the Guild guitar company is best known for its Westerly, Rhode Island address. Formed by guitar dealer Alfred Dronge and several Epiphone employees when the latter company merged with rival Gibson, from the start the Guild goal was to build electric and acoustic guitars to uncompromising standards. Along the way the company’s big-bodied 12-strings caught the imagination of all serious strummers – the F412 and F512 of 1968 perfectly epitomising this powerful breed of instruments.
Essentially the same guitar, the 412 could be distinguished from its 512 sibling by its use of solid curly maple, and not rosewood back and sides. The instruments’ split pearl and abalone block inlays, distinctive Guild logo and a huge peghead boasting a dozen tuners, cut an instant dash.
An obvious parallel exists with Gibson’s J-200, and the fact that Gibson chose not to add a J-200-12 to its line, gave the Guild jumbos their head start. Certainly the popularity of the all-blond, maple-bodied F-412 would suggest this.
Power, tonal clarity and projection, not to mention fabulous looks, made the F-412 the 12-string to be seen with. And artists as varied as John Denver, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton and Slash have at one time adopted the model as their 12-string of choice.
Taylor Grand Concert 1984
The instrument that predicted the return of the small-bodied fingerstyle guitar…
In the mid 1980s, acoustic guitars were way down the musical instrument pecking order. Synthesisers ruled the roost, and when guitars were played it was in the overdriven rock way, with nary a fingernail gracing a bronze-wound on any charting album.
Chris Proctor was the USA’s national fingerstyle champion and had become fed up with the big companies ignoring him and his fellow pickers’ wishes for a small, cutaway-bodied acoustic with a wide neck, intonation-compensated bridge and comfortable action. He went to Taylor with his ideas in 1983, and just a year later the Grand Concert was in production.
As with all Taylor models, the first number in the model designation indicates the wood it’s made from (5 equals mahogany, 6 maple, and so on) and the subsequent number the body style; 12 being Grand Concert.
Taylor’s modern manufacturing processes brought newfound consistency and quality to its guitars. Taylor had devised a concealed bolt-on neck design that allowed for unparalleled playing action on an acoustic, and this meant his good-looking cutaway Grand Concert was gaining the attention of the rock fraternity too. The company’s recently introduced range of cool coloured finishes meant that the quality acoustic guitar had truly entered the modern age. And when country, bluegrass and folk music re-entered the public’s awareness, and the singer-songwriter emerged from hibernation, Taylor’s Grand Concert was there for them all.