All the skinny on "by Guild" - Madeira

Since I now own three Madeiras, six DeArmonds and a(nother) Burnside - I'm well on my way to becoming a "by Guild" expert.  I can't say I'm authorized, but I'm intrigued, and would like to know more where there isn't any current knowledge. For more about individual models, click here.

Just as the other companies were offering less expensive, usually off-shore made, spin-offs - so did Guild.  As a matter of fact, my first acoustic guitar was a used Madeira - and that was in '73!  Gibson used the Epiphone name (although they had some pretty expensive guitars too), Ovation got Applause, Martin had Sigma and Fender had Bullet, Squier, and the Squier Bullet (and until recently discontinued, sold some Guild/Dearmond designs as Squier).

They came out with the Madeira in the late 60's and early 70's - about the time folk music, campfires and acoustic jam sessions were in vogue.  The majority of the guitars imported were acoustic, and even though they advertised electrics - probably only 10% were electrics.

MADEIRA - a Portuguese archipelago west of the country famous for it's wine, an imported guitar brand distributed by Guild known for acoustic guitars with solid wood tops and rich full bodied tone.

I've tried to glean some information from the web, and you read things - but can't verify them.  Of interest are comments like:
(Madeira Guitars) were imported and distributed by Guild.  The early ones were built in Japan, the later ones in Korea...  although the ones from Japan seem to be slightly superior.
Madeira was a brand imported by Guild. Can't find exact dates but early '70's through early '80's should cover the time period when they were imported. I believe they were made in Japan to Guild's specs.

One guy selling a CD of scanned images from a 1975 catalog listed the following models: Jumbo Bodies P-600R , P-600M, 12-Strings A-12A, P-812, P-712, Classic Guitars C-60, C-600, C-900, Mandolins M-300, M-800, 5 string banjo BA-5, Dreadnaughts P-500, A-75, A-35R, A-30M, A-25, A-15B, and Folk models A-1 & A-2.

The A- series of Acoustics are most often (but not often) found.  There is (at least) a P- series of Acoustics and C- series of Classicals, EG- series of stratish and tele electrics, mostly with humbuckers, and the SGish guitars and basses (of which I have one) that mimics the Guild S-100 line, and I've seen a couple of stranger shapes too, (I remember printing one out to test my wireless printing connection, I'll see if there was any good information there). 

There are suffix letters that seem to be the usual abbreviations, such as M for Maple (unless it stands for Mahogany - let the color of the wood be your guide), R for Rosewood, Solid Spruce is S, and there are occasional SB for Sunburst, and my catalog has a CE that is a Cut-away Electric.  Therefore, an A30R would be a pretty high end Acoustic with Rosewood back and sides, and an A30M would have Maple for the back and sides.  But I've also seen an A26M that had dark wood, and although I only saw pictures, the description said Mahogany. The electric line used suffixes to designate color, such as BLK (black), CR (creme), R (red), MR (metallic red), and SB (sun-burst).

From an observation of guitars for sale , it looks like the oval sound-hole stickers are the more desirable Japanese built guitars and the rectangular stickers are Korean - so you might be able to tell at a glance if it was assembled in Korea or Japan.  The headstock also seems to follow a pattern, the early Japanese guitars have a flat top, the "All New" (according to an ad) Korean ones have a curved top.

I have also observed Guitar ads, mostly from my collection of Guitar Player magazine going back to the early 70's.  Although none list the country of manufacture, and the oval labels do not include the country of assembly/manufacture, several sources list Japan and that makes sense since they were building guitars, like cars, trying to infiltrate the market.  At that point Korea, Indonesia, and China were not producing guitars destined for the US market.  This changed later.

I at least have one catalog and price list.  There is no date on the catalog, just a number: 80702A, and there is no mention of a country, just "Printed in USA".  It also doesn't have Electric guitars in it, darn, darn, darn.  The headstocks are curved and the pickguard has similarities with a kidney bean, as opposed to the earlier style teardrop and flat-top. 

Price sheet 1180R is dated June 1, 1979, (recently found 2182-D is dated March 1, 1982) just so you get an idea of the prices, $1.00 in 1979 would be valued at $2.97 in 2008, and $3.33 in 2012 (update $3.494 in 2016, $2.516 since 1982).  So I'll create a little table from my 1979 MSRP guide, to show how much these guitars would retail last year...

 Model List '79 List '82 '79 today '82 today Description
 A-1       $140  $489.16
  Folk Spruce/Hog
 A-9  $149.50      $376.14 Dread Spruce/Hog
 A-14   $149  $520.61  Dread Spruce/Hog
 A-25   $270 $259.50 $943.38     $652.90 Dread Spruce/Hog
 A-30M   $340      $335 $1,187.96     $842.86 Dread Spruce/Maple
 A-32SB       $415   $1,044.14 Dread Spruce/Maple Sunburst
 A-35   $340 $349.50 $1,187.96     $879.34 Dread Spruce/Rose
 P-500   $430  $1,502.42  Dread Spruce/Maple
 A-12A   $330 $279.50 $1,153.02     $703.2212 string Dread Spruce/Hog
 P-712   $355  $1,240.37 12 string Jumbo Spruce/Hog
 P-812   $465  $1,624.71 12 string Jumbo Spruce/Maple
 P-600R   $395  $1,380.13  Jumbo Spruce/Rose
 P-600M   $430  $1,502.42  Jumbo Spruce/Maple
 C-40   $125     $436.75  Classical Hog
 C-50   $160     $559.04  Classical Rose
 C-60   $190      $205    $663.86     $515.78 Classical Hog
 C-600   $250      $260    $873.50     $654.16 Classical Rose
 M-5       $265      $666.74 "A" Mandolin Hog
 M-10       $365      $918.34 2 Point Mandolin Rose
 M-800   $199     $695.31  Mandolin Hog
 M-300   $285     $995.79  Mandolin Rose
 HS Case
     $75   $45.95    $262.05     $115.61 Plush Hardshell Case
 E Case
$34.50   $24.95    $120.54       $62.77 Plush Economy Case

Wow! What does this mean? That $10 price increase from '79 to '82 actually cost over $200 less in today's dollars! That new full retail price of $340 in '79, which actually dropped in price $5 in '82 for a Maple back A-30 would be like paying almost $1,200 for a guitar today... and that was reasonable?  A beginner guitar for $149.50 would cost $375 today - but don't forget, that is full retail, so let's look at Yamaha's site.

A modern Yamaha Classical retail is only $220 for a beginner, $525 for intermediate. Acoustic guitars can also start at $220 and quickly go up to $450-600; there's even a 50th anniversary FG model (Folk Guitar) listed at $1,300 - so I guess the prices adjusted for inflation are pretty much on par, especially since Yamaha was one of the major competitors in the '70s too. Finally, a decent hard shell case for under $120 retail is pretty good.
Subpages (1): Madeira Guitars