Guild's GAD (Guild Acoustic Design) Series instruments were first introduced back in 2005, at a time when many big name manufacturers were diversifying production to China in the interests of price economies.
Initially offering just a modest handful of designs - all based on traditional US Guilds - the range grew considerably, to the point where earlier this year there were around 30 steel-strung models plus various colour options. An implied risk of Chinese sourcing was compromised quality control, but the range sported high build standards from the word go, and all the guitars featured solid woods throughout and came with hard cases.
"The F-150 gives the impression of needing a good dose of vigorous playing-in in order to unlock more richness and dynamic verve from the guitar."
This remains so today, as Guild introduces a brand new line-up that kicks off with 19 models. Some are largely renumbered versions of previous incarnations - albeit with a few trim alterations, such as plastic instead of wood binding - and the GAD prefix has been dropped from the revised catalogue designations. Within this tally, however, sit eight entirely new instruments, three of which we'll be reviewing.
The spruce/rosewood jumbo F-150R is inspired by Guild's long-running Traditional Series F-50R, but doesn't share the latter's 438mm (17.25-inch) super-jumbo body span. Instead, measurement across the lower bouts is a more modest 422mm (16.6-inches), though allied to capacious 119mm-deep rims it's still a sizeable instrument.
Binding is similar to the F-130CE's, but to this is added a wood-mosaic centre line down the back, while the rosewood fingerboard, with its model-appropriate rectangular pearl block markers, is also cream-bound. Other 'deluxe' elements include a sculpted rear-bridge profile as on the original F-50s, and gold die-cast tuners that look the part - though a few have some slack in their gearing.
The F-150's satin neck is constructionally similar to the F-130's, but with general playing rather than picking the stated aim here, the width is a regular 43mm at the nut, with bridge string spacing tightened to 53mm. The depth is again shallow, offering a speedy, very easy-playing handful that is once more enhanced by the immaculately dressed fretting and a low, buzz-free action.
The F-150 slightly flatters to deceive. It has the requisite low-end thump you'd expect from a decent jumbo, but outright volume and projection from the player's standpoint aren't exceptional given the generously proportioned soundbox. That said, it's by no means a shrinking violet; rather it gives the impression of needing a good dose of vigorous playing-in in order to unlock more richness and dynamic verve from the guitar.
There are detail aspects, compared with the previous series, that reflect Guild's keeping a beady eye on production costs: loss of the Chesterfield motif, satin rather than gloss neck, and plastic not wood bindings.
But none of these ought to be a deal-breaker because essential quality remains tip-top. The F-150R jumbo's from-new sound slightly disappoints but it's otherwise a class instrument with maturing potential. If the rest of the series musters similar merits, continued success for the GADs is a cert.