Skip to main content

Guild A-20 Marley review

Guild celebrates a reggae icon with an affordable dread' based on the acoustic guitar behind his hits

  • £359
  • €369
  • $399
 Guild A-20 Marley
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

MusicRadar Verdict

The appeal is obvious for Bob Marley super fans but this affordable and playable dread has something for everyone.

Pros

  • +

    Solid spruce top.

  • +

    Lovely feel, versatile sounds.

  • +

    Sensibly priced.

Cons

  • -

    No electronics.

  • -

    No left-handed models.

Guild A-20 Marley: What is it?

The A-20 Marley is a signature acoustic guitar collaboration between Guild and the late reggae superstar Bob Marley’s estate. 

It ships with a commemorative booklet and poster, a set of guitar picks and a custom gig-bag, and is based on Marley’s beloved Madeira – the budget dreadnought on which he wrote some of his biggest hits.

That’s not to say that the A-20 Marley is a forensic replica of the original Madeira model but it is similarly designed to be an affordable instrument for all budgets and features some of the same design traits.

Setting aside the Marley connection, the Madeira line is quite obscure today. They were introduced in the ‘70s as a cheaper overseas line to complement to Guild’s USA models. 

Guild A-20 Marley

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Guild has given A-20 Marley the Madeira’s rounded off square headstock style with a vintage script logo, added some signature inlay at the 12th fret and on the pickguard, and upgraded the build, with its laminated mahogany back and sides topped by a solid Sitka spruce soundboard.

The neck profile is a little more 21st-century, too, with a crowd-pleasing C profile replacing the more old-school V of the original. As a sign of the times, Guild has used pau ferro on the fingerboard, which scarcely raises an eyebrow nowadays given it’s the house standard for the blockbuster Fender Player and Player Plus Series.

The A-20 Marley has a 24.75” scale, has a bone nut and compensated saddle, and its natural finish is satin-smooth poly. It’s a handsome looking dread all right.

Guild A-20 Marley

(Image credit: Guild)

Guild A-20 Marley: Performance and verdict

Even before you get a chance to study the included chord chart for Three Little Birds the A-20 Marley has already done some good in the world. Not only is the gig-bag made from recycled material, but Guild is supporting the One Tree Planted reforestation initiative through this release, planting one tree for every guitar sold. Good to know.

As for the guitar, well, it’s a sweet sounding and welcoming dreadnought that arrives in fine shape. The factory setup is welcoming. The fit and finish is spotless. The neck feels just right, a Goldilocks profile that splits the difference between the substantial bulk and comfort of vintage instruments and today’s preference for more svelte necks.

Also consider...

Best guitars for beginners: Fender CD-60S

(Image credit: Fender)

Fender CD-60S All-Mahogany
Marrying a solid mahogany top with laminated mahogany on the back and sides, the CD-60S is a very attractive beginner's dreadnought with a bright, articulate and well-balanced voice.

Taylor Academy 10E
This may just be the dream beginner guitar...and a potential trade-up for some.

A few open chords, playing with gusto, are all you need to remind yourself of why the dreadnought format has been the number one for singer-songwriters. There is power when you strum it.

That’s the case here, too, but the mid-range is not going to leave you with a black eye as some dreadnoughts are wont to do. There’s a honeyed character to the upper mids, and enough treble to articulate each note in your chord, and perhaps open the floor to fingerstyle players, too.

That’s the impression the A-20 Marley gives you. It’s a dread, but a dread for all styles, a blank canvas for acoustic troubadours, and perhaps it is a dread for all budgets, too. The price makes it very attractive for those looking just getting into the instrument, or indeed anyone who needs a runaround acoustic with a good set of lungs on it, something proportioned to reliably give open chords a three-dimensional depth, a little welly to get the message across.

MusicRadar verdict: The appeal is obvious for Bob Marley super fans but this affordable and playable dread has something for everyone.

Guild A-20 Marley: The web says

“We can see why Bob Marley liked having one of these nearby. It’s inviting and fun to play. It’s affordable enough to leave on a stand, ready for when inspiration strikes, and because it plays superbly, you’re likely to keep coming back. It’s a strong choice whether you’re a reggae fan or just in need of a great-value workhorse.”
Total Guitar (opens in new tab)

Guild A-20 Marley: Hands-on demos

Guild

Acoustic Guitar Magazine

PMTVUK

Alamo Music Center

Guild A-20 Marley: Specifications

  • TOP: Solid spruce
  • BACK AND SIDES: Mahogany
  • NECK: Mahogany
  • SCALE: 24.75”
  • FINGERBOARD: Pau Ferro
  • FRETS: 20
  • FINISH: Natural
  • CONTACT: Guild (opens in new tab)

MusicRadar is the number 1 website for music makers of all kinds, be they guitarists, drummers, keyboard players, djs or producers...

  • GEAR: We help musicians find the best gear with top-ranking gear round-ups and high- quality, authoritative reviews by a wide team of highly experienced experts.
  • TIPS: We also provide tuition, from bite-sized tips to advanced work-outs and guidance from recognised musicians and stars.
  • STARS: We talk to musicians and stars about their creative processes, and the nuts and bolts of their gear and technique. We give fans an insight into the actual craft of music making that no other music website can.