NAMM 2023: Guild debuts the Surfliner Deluxe, classing up its affordable retro offset electric with a roasted maple neck and a floating vibrato

NAMM 2023: The Guild Surfliner is a real favourite around these parts. Here was a brand-new electric guitar design from Guild that looked like it had been recovered from a 1960s blueprint, offset, a little odd, and with its HSS pickup configuration it was sonically versatile, too. 

Heck, the list price wasn’t bad either. For an electric guitar under £/$500 there was a lot to like. There was, however, one thing missing – a vibrato. It seemed a no-brainer. Well, ask, and thou shall receive… 

The good people at Guild have either listened or arrived at the same conclusion, and after expanding the Surfliner lineup with a dual-humbucker model last month, it has dropped an upscale Deluxe version of the retro offset that comes equipped with a newly designed floating vibrato. 

The Guild Floating Vibrato Tailpiece (GFVT) features a nylon insert, and has a tension screw that is easily adjusted so the action of the whammy bar is just how you like it. 

As with the neck plate, the unit is embossed with the Guild “G”, giving this a few more heritage points, and proving that a brand with a bit of history can still come up with something totally new for the 21st-century that is wholly in keeping with an old-school aesthetic and design.

Besides an old Fender tube combo amp with tube-driven spring reverb and a tape echo, what else would you need for surf rock fun? Well, this isn’t the end of the upgrades to be found on the Surfliner Deluxe. 

That bolt-on neck is now fashioned out of roasted maple, the 10” radius fingerboard is bound rosewood, with block inlays giving it a real mid-60s, straight-outta-California mojo. And it arrives in three sweet finishes: Evergreen Metallic, Rose Quartz Metallic, and Black Metallic, each reprised on the headstock.

The sounds on offer remain as versatile as the original Surfliner. In all kinds of ways, this is a crowd-pleasing guitar design, with an appeal that extends being surf rock to indie, alt-rock, grunge, punk, country, jazz, whatever.

The Surfliner Deluxe has a satin C profile neck, a 25.5” scale, and the neck is bolted to a body of solid poplar – again, that offset double-cutaway shape is a winner. You will find an Alnico II HB-2 humbucker at the bridge, with DeArmond Aerosonic single-coils at the middle and neck positions. 

A five-way blade pickup selector switch offers plenty of options, with hum-cancelling modes in positions one and four, and lots of in-between tones elsewhere. We often talk about amps as an excellent pedalboard platform, but why not guitars, too? 

With all these core tones the Surfliner has always presented itself as the sort of electric that would sound very interesting through various stompboxes.

The Surfliner Deluxe is a little more pricey than its forebears but at $699 it still looks like a lot of guitar for the money. For more details, head over to Guild.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.