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The Guild D-50 Bluegrass Special and Guild D-40 Jubilee Acoustic Guitars

Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.

Guild Guitars

Guild Guitars have produced wonderful instruments right here in the United States for a very long time. Founded in 1952 in Manhattan, New York, by a former executive of the Epiphone Guitar Company, Guild Guitars had a solid foundation for their company. Though the primary focus of Guild Guitars was initially arch-top jazz model instruments, the folk boom of the 1960s forced the company to build guitars suited towards that market, and so they came directly in line to compete with the elder C.F.Martin & Company.

Guild Guitars continues to produce some very wonderful folk model instruments. They are especially well-known are their Dreadnought body instruments and their highly esteemed twelve-string guitar.

One historical tidbit is that Richie Havens opened up the 1960 Woodstock festival playing a Guild D-40.

Guild Guitars wanted to compete with the big three American guitar manufacturers: Martin, Gibson, and Fender. They must have competed a bit too well, as the Fender Guitar company ended up buying out Guild. Luckily, Fender didn't interfere too much with Guild's fine acoustic guitar manufacturing. Fender did shut down Guild's electric guitar production, but Guild's fine acoustic guitars are still made here in the USA, while Fender's name-brand acoustic instruments are not.

The Guild D-50 Bluegrass Special, front and back.

The Guild D-50 Bluegrass Special, front and back.

The Guild D-50 Bluegrass Special

Now, the Guild D-50 Bluegrass Special is a guitar built with one purpose in mind: to compete directly with the Martin D-28. In every single way this guitar was created and designed towards that one singular end, and it does compete well with the Martin D-28. The proof is that the guitar is still made to this very day, because it has proven successful towards the end for which it was created.

What Is Special About the Guild D-50 Bluegrass Special?

There is one thing in particular that makes the Guild D-50 Bluegrass Special a more favorable instrument to the Martin for some. It's the fact the Guild D-50 Bluegrass Special features a solid red, or Adirondack, spruce soundboard, or top. The standard Martin HD-28 comes with a Sitka spruce soundboard or top. It is often thought the Adirondack spruce provides a louder and clearer tonality, and also more sustain, than does the more common Sitka spruce soundboard.

Why Doesn't Martin Offer an Adirondack Spruce Top on Its D-28?

C.F. Martin & Company does offer an Adirondack spruce top on one model of the D-28 guitar, but only on the Martin D-28GE or "golden era," and that guitar also features Brazilian rosewood back and sides. Because it combines not one, but two "holy grail" types of wood, the D-28GE sells for about nine thousand dollars.

C.F. Martin & Company does offer a rosewood Dreadnought guitar with East Indian Rosewood and an Adirondack Spruce top, but not in a D-28 model. They offer a comparable guitar to the Guild D-50 Bluegrass Special, but in a D-16 model known as the D-16 Adirondack.

The truth of the matter is that the Guild D-50 Bluegrass Special is very much based upon the Martin D-28 in every way. But there are some minor differences, outside of the high-grade red spruce top provided by default on the Guild instrument. Unique to the Guild are the brand's headstock, pickguard, and the fact the instrument also comes from the factory with bone bridge pins, something I am not aware of Martin doing with any of its instruments.

Now, the only real dilemma here for anyone shopping for a great rosewood and spruce Dreadnought would be determining which they could afford. Truly, because the prices of this Guild guitar are rather close to Martin's HD-28VR, I'd suggest not purchasing one over the other for any price for a difference of a few hundred dollars in either direction. When purchasing an instrument on this level, a few hundred dollars should not be a big concern, as the buyer should be purchasing a guitar they intend to spend hundreds or thousands of hours with in the future. The concern should be purchasing the guitar that feels and sounds best to the player.

If you peruse the two links to the exact guitars I'm suggesting for comparison here, then you'll see the Martin instrument sells for a bit less on It is not an exact or fair comparison regarding what you might see at a guitar store, as the two Amazon links I've provided are only the best I could find for comparison. The Guild model comes with the red spruce top, a sunburst finish, and Fishman pre-amp and pickup, and all three of those features put it in a position to provide more value to the player. I should point out that even though Guild instruments do enjoy very high regard and reputation, the Martin instrument "might" still hold a higher resale value should the purchaser decide to sell.

In the end, my final advice is always going to be the same: Go with your gut, your hands, and your ears.

Guild D-50 Standard Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar features at a glance:

  • Premium all-solid wood construction.
  • Rosewood back and sides.
  • Sitka spruce top with scalloped red spruce bracing.
  • Satin-finished mahogany neck with a slim profile.
  • Hand-fit dovetail neck joint.
  • Ivoroid body binding.
  • Bone nut, saddle, and bridge pins.
  • Rosewood fingerboard and bridge.
  • Dual-action truss rod.
  • Lacquer finish.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Deluxe hardshell case included.
The Guild D-40 Jubilee Guitar, mahogany and red spruce.

The Guild D-40 Jubilee Guitar, mahogany and red spruce.

The Guild D-40 Jubilee and the Martin D-18

With the Guild D-40 Jubilee, we have the exact same thing as with the Guild D-50 Bluegrass Special, but things are ever so slightly different. The Guild D-40 Jubilee is the exact same competition and copy for the Martin D-18 as the Guild D-50 Bluegrass Special is for the Martin HD-28VR.

The thing about the Guild D-40 Jubilee that is different is that the Martin D-18GE also features a red spruce or Adirondack top, as does this fine acoustic guitar from guild.

The normal Martin D-18 features Sitka spruce, as do all normal (non "golden era") models of D-28, but the difference here is that the D-18GE isn't so vastly more expensive from it's non golden era cousin, the HD-28 from the D-28GE, and the reason for this is that mahogany is still mahogany.

Rosewood guitars are vastly more expensive than an East Indian rosewood model to a Brazilian rosewood model, though the only difference between a Martin D-18V and a D-18GE is the red spruce top and a slightly wider width at the nut.

So essentially, this fine Guild D-40 Jubilee competes very favorably with the Martin D-18GE in the realm of cost, or price.

The price for the Martin mahogany body instrument with a red spruce top is about $3,500.00. I ought to know, I used to own such a guitar, the Martin D-18GE.

One major difference between the Guild D-40 Jubilee and the Martin D-18GE is the width of the neck at the nut. The Martin D-18GE has a 1 3/4" width at the nut, which is slightly wider than any non-Golden Era edition instrument made by C.F. Martin & Company. The Guild D-40 Jubilee measures 1.68" at the nut, which is a more standard width for current production Dreadnought guitars, and is roughly the same nut width as a Martin D-18V.

At the end of the day, a musician knows which guitar combined with their skill makes the best music. While the name C.F. Martin & Company puts a higher resale value on a guitar than does Guild's name, this also creates some very favorable deals on used Guild guitars!

Guild D-40 Traditional Acoustic Guitar

  • Body Style: Dreadnought
  • Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
  • Bracing: Scalloped Red Spruce
  • Back: Solid Mahogany
  • Sides: Solid Mahogany
  • Scale Length: 25.625" (65.09 Cm)
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12" Radius (305 Mm)
  • No. of Frets: 20
  • Position Inlays: Pearl Dot Inlays
  • Nut: Bone
  • Nut Width: 1.6875" (43 Mm)
  • Bridge: Rosewood
  • Saddle: Bone Saddle
  • Bridge Pins: Bone Bridge Pins
  • Body Finish: High Gloss Lacquer
  • Neck Finish: Satin Lacquer
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • Machine Heads: Gotoh Die-Cast
  • Strings: D'addario Exp 17 Coated Phosphor Bronze, (.013-.056 Gauges)
  • Case: Deluxe Hardshell Case
  • Unique features:
  • Red Spruce bracing
  • Ivoroid body binding
  • Satin-finished neck with a slim profile
  • Dual-action truss rod


Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on August 01, 2012:

Thanks very much, Sue Swan!!!!!!!!!!!!

I sure love acoustic guitars - it's a never ending affair, I tell ya!

Sueswan on July 29, 2012:

Hi Wes

Your knowledge and the detail you go into with your guitar hubs is very impressive.

I listened to a few of the videos and the Guild guitar sounds great to my ears.

Voted up and away

Have a good day :)

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on July 27, 2012:

very Good, Good Sir!!!!!!!!!!!1 I couldn't recommend a thing better :)

texshelters from Mesa, Arizona on July 27, 2012:

Well, folk involves some picking, as does country, but the rhythm and speed is very different...

I guess for Jeeeesus! I must touch him through my guitar...


Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on July 27, 2012:

YOU SIMPLY MUST, THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bluegrass is generally simple chord wise, but "picking" takes some dedication to is very different to play up tempo on an acoustic guitar compared to an electric, where you can just hammer on or pull of notes for nearly forever Eddie Van Halen or Yngwie Malmsteen style.

Really, very few "pickers" could do what electric guitarist do...and vice versa....the techniques don't match up or "transfer" very well at all!

texshelters from Mesa, Arizona on July 27, 2012:

Yes, Led Zeppelin III is the lesser known jewel in Zeppelin discography. Page goes places more rock guitarist dare not go on that one.

I can fake country, folk and even rock acoustic, but not blue grass. I have to pick up my guitar again soon...


Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on July 27, 2012:

Thanks very much, Tex!!!!!

When I was either eleven or twelve I started learning to play the guitar ....but I wanted to be Jimmy Page, and all I could find were people that wanted to turn me into Doc Watson.

....but even Jimmy Page "quoted" Doc Watson frequently ...especially on Led Zeppelin III.

To this day...I can't make anything I play sound like anything BUT Bluegrass!

texshelters from Mesa, Arizona on July 27, 2012:

I never did pick up any blue grass. Those pickers are amazing!