Guild D-20E review

Familiar guitars from a brand new USA factory

  • £1555
  • €1769

MusicRadar Verdict

Guild has celebrated its return to USA building with a flourish, reintroducing this model with a lot of history behind it.


  • +

    Dark-toned big sound and excellent electro performance; a road-hog!


  • -

    Might be a little too mellow for some; lots of competition in store.

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Guild entered the flat-top steel-string market in 1954 with a limited production rangeof three body sizes: the 15-inch-wide Aragon F-30; the 16-inch Valencia F-40; and the 17-inch Navarre F-50 modelled on Gibson's SJ-100 with a pressed maple laminate arch back (like all of the trio).

The smallest 13.75-inch- wide 'Troubador' F-20 didn't appear until 1956 and was a big-selling guitar for Guild, along with the more 000/OM sized F-30, during the folk boom of the 60s.

At this point, all of Guild's flat-tops utilised spruce tops, though the back and sides of the F-30 and F-20 had changed to mahogany by 1959. It seems the all-mahogany 'Economy' M-20 appeared around 1958 and the all-mahogany 'Del Rio' M-30 a little later.

Guild was certainly late to the table with a dreadnought (it preferred the 'dreadnaught' spelling, too), but it seems that goes
back to 1963 with the spruce/mahogany Dreadnaught D-40 and spruce/rosewood Dreadnaught D-50, which were swiftly renamed the 'Bluegrass Jubilee' D-40 and the 'Bluegrass Special' D-50.

We can't find any early reference to a D-20, the closest being the all-mahogany Bluegrass D-25 that appeared in 1968. What is generally agreed, however, is that Guild's model designations were, ahem, rather confusing and illogical when it came to its flat-tops.

Plugged in, the LR Baggs system captures a mix-ready sound that would not require too much EQ tinkering at all.

The new D-20 is the perfect foil for its smaller sibling (the recently-reviewed M-20), and when the two are placed together they form a decidedly good-looking pair. As such, it's a case of little and large with these two acoustics, so let's huddle together and move in for a close-up look at what's on offer here.

The D-20 is built from solid mahogany - in fact, at this point in a review, we'd usually be giving you a full rundown of the bodywoods in use here, but, to be perfectly honest, it's easier to say which parts of this one aren't made from mahogany. That would be the rosewood fingerboard and bridge, then!

Other features include scalloped X bracing, bone nuts and bridge saddles, ivory-coloured bridge pins, a 305mm (12-inch) fingerboard radius, what Guild classes as 'C' profile necks, pearloid dot inlays and vintage-style open gear tuners.

The D-20 - technically
 a D-20E - is fitted with the LR Baggs Element VTC pickup. The D-20 also has a scale of 651mm (25.625 inches).


The neck shape is certainly
 quite Guild, a 'C', yes, but with quite steep shoulders giving it a little more 'D' in terms of feel. It had a very mainstream depth, too, very comfortable in the hand.

Picking up the D-20E, it's pretty obvious straight away that this is a first class strummer. Dreadnoughts are renowned for their big, booming voices, which sometimes can come across as brash and undisciplined, but that isn't the case with this example.

The mahogany body and neck impart a dark, toneful sound; it's warm with plenty of power. Switching over to fingerstyle, the bass end of the tonal spectrum is slightly soft-sounding and spongy when we were expecting some snap, but it's the warmth that comes through and impresses. Big, bold, dark and dusky would seem to be the order of the day for this dread.

Plugged in, the LR Baggs system captures a mix-ready sound that would not require too much EQ tinkering at all. Balanced across the spectrum, the lows are present without being boomy, while the middle and highs are crisp and clear.

With all-mahogany guitars enjoying something of a renaissance, this model will stand tall and speak loud. Build quality is tip-top and price point is very competitive for a premium-marque all-solid build.

Of course, this is just the start of what owners Cordoba hope will become - as its heritage warrants - a major challenge to the USA's other, more established brands. The next models planned for USA production are the D-55 and the F-512 12-string. Watch this space!