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Guild Newark St S-100 Polara review

An unpretentiously solid solidbody

  • £779
  • €967
  • $1075
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Polara makes a great alternative to a Gibson SG

Our Verdict

It may have a utilitarian look compared to Guild's semi-acoustics, but this full-throated solid-body still delivers on build quality, playability and tone.

Pros

  • History, build quality and immaculate finish. Clarity and punch to the humbuckers.

Cons

  • Slightly uncomfortable played seated.

MusicRadar Verdict

It may have a utilitarian look compared to Guild's semi-acoustics, but this full-throated solid-body still delivers on build quality, playability and tone.

Pros

  • + History, build quality and immaculate finish. Clarity and punch to the humbuckers.

Cons

  • - Slightly uncomfortable played seated.

Guild's S-100 Polara debuted in the late 60s, a time when the hippy movement was dying out. Free love gave way to cynicism, and the S-100 Polara reflected that. Now it's back as part of the Korean-made, vintage-specced Newark St range.

A stripped-down, double-cut slab of mahogany, with two Anti-Hum Dual Coils in neck and bridge, the Polara feels like a utilitarian riposte to ostentatiously spec'd guitars.

"There's a bright clarity and punch to the Polara's tone, like a post-pubescent Tele Deluxe"

That the nickel-plated stop tailpiece sits at an angle underscores the Polara's position as an iconoclastic take on the Gibson SG, a position in sync with the body's symmetric cutaways.

It comes fitted with no frills but super-steady Grover Sta-Tite tuners. It shares the history, build quality and immaculate finish of its Newark St siblings the Starfire IV and M-75 Aristocrat, but it has the density of tone you'd expect from the series' only solidbody.

And it feels timeless: modern then, and still so now. That it is Kim Thayil from Soundgarden's guitar of choice tells us a lot about its capabilities.

Slightly uncomfortable played seated, it comes into its own when strapped on, with a playing experience and sound that makes it an ideal - not to mention £300-odd cheaper - alternative to, say, an American SG.

That those 'buckers are not red-hot never put Thayil off. There's a bright clarity and punch to the Polara's tone, like a post-pubescent Tele Deluxe, which can handle overdriven rock riffs, with just enough mahogany to thicken up your sound when opening your amp up full.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars 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.