Behind the scenes of Guild Guitars' California Factory

#AskRen

Today we’re kicking off an exciting new series for the Guild blog called #AskRen. Ren Ferguson, our VP of R&D and Manufacturing, is a luthier, craftsman, artist, and all-around amazing leader and visionary to have on our team. Currently, Ren is designing and building the new Guild factory in Southern California. He’s laying out the blueprints, designing the fixtures and jigs, and getting all integral pieces in place. It’s an exciting time for Guild, to say the least.

We’ve been paying attention to the blogs, social media, and forums, and we know that you all have some questions! So, here’s your chance to ask Ren himself. Just leave your question in the comment section below, and every few weeks or so, we’ll pick out a few topics to cover.

To start us off, here are a few questions from Marketing Director, Naomi Con:

Naomi: It’s probably too soon to share too much detailed information about your production plans, but can you at least give us a little hint of what model(s) you want to start with?

Ren: The M-20, will be our entry back into the American-made market. We’re returning to Guild’s early and humble history…our roots. By design standards, the M-20 is a simple guitar, but if we can glean anything from sales of the current import version (best-selling M-120), we’re confident it will be well-received. Of course, we’ll use premium hardwoods and it will give all the guitar connoisseurs out there an American-made Guild acoustic that is true to the period when these guitars were first made. From a manufacturer’s perspective, the M-20 is is a great place to start since it is so simple. We are starting with a fresh team of luthiers, a new facility, and new tools – any learning curve will have less of an impact. 

Naomi: Okay, enough serious stuff. Word around town is that you aren’t just a luthier, but you are also an amazing chef! I’m sure all Guild fans want to know…what’s your all-time favorite dish to cook for your family? 

Ren: Any wild game dish. My choice ingredient is always something I hunted or grew myself. Basically if God took care of growing it up, I want to eat it. Animals in their natural state, in their prime, is the best there is to offer guests and family and that’s why I got into cooking. If I’m going to take an animal’s life, I want to do it justice. I try to use all the parts and make it taste the best it possibly can.

Feel free to submit your questions in the comment section below! We promise we’ll read each one and try our best to cover as many topics as we can.

*Please note: We know Ren has had an extensive career in the industry, but we’d appreciate it if you keep your questions Guild related. We reserve any right to remove any questions or comments that are inappropriate.

64 replies
  1. Tony Watson
    Tony Watson says:

    I have a 1979 D-35 Dreadnought that has a cracked neck up near the head. I have done some attempts to repair it on my own, but I am afraid it is not to the standard that is anywhere acceptable. Is it possible to repair such damage, and if so what would you expect me to do to get some sort of estimate to make it right again. I happen to have it’s brother as well, made the same year, and it is in great shape, as I use it on stage all the time.

    Thank You,
    Tony Watson

    Reply
    • gayle
      gayle says:

      Tony,
      If the new factory is not able to handle a repair for you, I would recommend Mandolin Bros, Ltd here on Staten Island, NY. Check out their website. They do impeccable work and their love of these instruments and their craftsmanship is unsurpassed. Their (happy) customer list speaks for itself. You will never know that you had that cracked neck. I’m a happy customer!

      Reply
  2. LEO MATHENY
    LEO MATHENY says:

    How could you possile have let Doyle Dykes get away from Guild. I know this is not your area of responsibility, but what a serious mistake for the Company.. Doyle was highly instrumental in the meteoric growth of Taylor Guitars. He would have been the most creditable, loyal and hard working advocate in your Company. There is just simply no one else you could ever hire to be the equal of Doyle Dykes. Too bad!! .

    Reply
    • Thom
      Thom says:

      I had the good fortune of seeing Doyle play recently and he was playing a new Guild “Doyle Dykes” signature model. What a beautiful guitar!! Doyle is an amazing player.

      Thom

      Reply
  3. Taylor
    Taylor says:

    Dear Ren and Associates,

    Guild has had a history of closing factories. What, in your opinion, will make Oxnard different?
    Although, at the same time, you were able to upstart the Bozeman factory of Gibson. I would like to hear your opinion on this.

    Also, do you plan on making a 12 fret M-20? Any ETA? What woods do you plan to offer? Newer sustainable woods, traditional mahogany/rosewood and spruce?

    I appreciate that you are starting from scratch in the factory with a single design. You have plenty of people cheering you on. You may be one of the most capable at accomplishing this.

    Reply
    • Sean Casey
      Sean Casey says:

      I can guarantee if Luthier Kenny Hill has anything to do with this production facility it will produce some amazing instruments. If it’s true that Cordoba aquired Guild from Fender then I would guess that Mr Hill might be involved. Mr Hill was intrumental in setting up the Chinese factory that produces Cordoba Classical Guitars. I’ve owned a couple of these Chinese made Cordobas and they are very well made. The QC is better than the Cordobas I saw coming out of Spain. Mr Hills Signature models he makes are truly amazing guitars.

      Reply
  4. david poses
    david poses says:

    Hi Ren. I’m a huge fan of your work and am beyond excited to see what you do with Guild. Much as we all love the old standards and new incarnations of old models (I was thrilled to read about the M20 being resurrected in America), I know there are a lot of people out there who would love to see wider availability of the custom stuff. Any plans to turn some of the recent GSR/custom guitars into regular production models? Those, along with the Orpheum line, has gotten great reviews but they’re very hard to come by. Personally, I’d love to see more of that and some variations on the standards. I’ve been chasing a maple F30, Carpathian F20, and so forth, but they’re close to impossible to come by. (If you happen to have any lying around, please send one my way. Good luck! (not that you need it)

    Reply
  5. John
    John says:

    Hi there! Following Tony’s query, I would also like to know Guild Guitars can be serviced. I have a 1976 issue F212XL which needs a saddle replacement. It is is fabulous condition with its original case

    Reply
  6. Steve
    Steve says:

    Now that you’re making electrics again (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one writing to beg you to do this!) will any spare parts (knobs, bridges) ever be made available to those of us lucky enough to own original Starfires, S-100’s, etc.?
    Well ok… Starfires and S-100’s. lol

    Reply
  7. S-100 Addict
    S-100 Addict says:

    The new press is slightly unclear. While it says you are “…resuming construction of the best USA-made Guild acoustic and electrics…”, the electric models are still dubbed Newark St. Will these electrics be Made in the US or still be imports, as in the past few years?

    Also, the humbucking pickups, are these the full sized humbuckers Tim Shaw helped design?

    Thanx!

    Reply
    • David
      David says:

      Prior to CMG acquiring Guild, Guilds electric guitars were being made in the USA (New Hartford, CT) as well as in Korea. The USA electrics were the GSR models as well as the American Patriarch line, and they were fairly pricey. The Newark Street line you refer to is the much more affordable models that are made in Korea. Everything I have heard suggests that the NS line made in Korea will continue to make more affordable guitars, and that the higher end Guild electrics that were previously made in the USA will resume, but the specific models that will be made is not yet clear.

      Regarding the humbucking pickups, if you see on the NS models a reference to “Anti-hum” pickups that means they are what is referred to in the Guild community as their “mini-buckers”. To my knowledge, all of the humbuckers used on the NS guitars were the Anti-hum, or mini-buckers, which were modeled after those buckers used by Guild in the 1960’s. The GSR Starfire VI used Seth Lover’s, the GSR T-400 used Anti-hum pups, the GSR X-180 used Duncan 59’s, and the GSR X-500 used Anti-hum pups. As for what is used in the future on their USA-made guitars once Guild is up and running in Oxnard, CA, that remains uncertain.

      Reply
  8. Gregory
    Gregory says:

    Hi Ren
    I’m a big fan of the Guild Bluesbird, any plans on producing some with exotic wood tops like White or black limba, zebrawood or spalted malpe etc ? Oh and good luck with the new factory.

    Reply
  9. Woody Adams
    Woody Adams says:

    Any chance on resurrection of the Guild D25 arched back? Also, the D40 is no longer on the website. Is the D40 returning as well?

    thanks!

    Reply
  10. Mike
    Mike says:

    Will you be building any “Made In USA” electrics that are high quality, but inexpensive and simple – e.g. limited binding, single pickup, volume and tone only, limited inlays on the neck like dot inlays (but real MOP) only, simple see through finish?

    Reply
  11. tim
    tim says:

    I’ve owned 3 Guild electrics in the past, Starfire II Starfire IV and CE100D.
    All were beautiful guitars with great tone and a coolness factor unsurpassed.
    The really narrow neck, especially at the nut. 42mm got me to sell them.
    Todays players do a lot of fingerstyle and flatpicking too. I’m hoping you at least
    make the neck a little wider, at least 1 11/16 or even better 1 3/4.
    I miss my Guilds but I don’t miss the cramped feeling I got with the 1 5/8 neck on the
    old guitars. Thanks

    Reply
    • Anton V.
      Anton V. says:

      Truth to be told, there are plenty of archtops on the market that have wider necks, but it’s very hard to find the one with the narrow neck. I hope Guild will keep that in mind, as there are a few folks like me who don’t have big hands and prefer narrow nut width. But definitely on the chunkier side, not a slim taper profile would be ideal!

      Reply
  12. Marc Djan
    Marc Djan says:

    Hi Ren,
    You have built 2 guitars for me j-45 TV et SJ200 TV . Both was left handed guitars . I would love to own a left handed rosewood slope shoulders orpheum serie . does guild build those for lefty ?

    Reply
  13. Chuck
    Chuck says:

    Ren, I have a 1995 D4 that I have had a heck of a time getting to the right sound. The tone is too high and the bass to middle tones just do not carry through. I have tried Guild and Martin Marquis strings. I love the way it plays but cringe at the high tinny sound. Do I need to just pack this one in and move to a rosewood guitar or is there a cure?

    Reply
  14. Paul Loopuyt
    Paul Loopuyt says:

    Dear Mr. Fergusson,
    I was talking with Rudi Bults from “The Fellowship of Acoustics”, dealer of exclusive guitars here in the Netherlands, about my 60th anniversary custom shop (#20) and how lucky I am, that you were involved in the New Hartford workshop for the few years it existed. It’s a fantastic guitar, it’s being played daily and still gets better all the time. (And it also gets the best out of me!)
    We are quite impressed by your energy for new projects over and over, but are very curious, if you’re still into building banjo’s.

    Reply
  15. John
    John says:

    Am I alone in wanting the heavier built Guilds of yesteryear to return? Modern Guilds have been fantastic but seem very lightly built.

    Also, please revive the small jumbo F312 12 string!

    Reply
  16. John W
    John W says:

    Ren,

    What price point do you think Guild could be most successful in ? With all the imports and various quality models from brands that wouldn’t have made “economy” models in the past, it looks to be hard to find an product line that wouldn’t have a ton of competition. I think many of us would like to see some really solid instruments in the more blue collar price range.

    Reply
  17. Anton V.
    Anton V. says:

    Hi Ren,
    I’m really a big fan of Guild electric archtop hollowbodies. Do you have plans to make reasonably priced American made ones soon? I’d really like for Guild to return to those necks with narrow nut 1 5/8, and more chunky as well. There’s plenty archtops around with wider necks, but not nearly enough with the narrow one.

    Also, if there are plans to bring back the HB-1 pickup, that would be the best!

    Reply
  18. BL
    BL says:

    Hi Ren,
    I’m a happy 30 year owner of a 1962 M65 Freshman. This is a fabulous guitar – perhaps just one of those “blessed” with a little extra something in it. That “extra something” for me is the neck. I’d love to have an acoustic with the same neck. This is a Hoboken guitar and I’ve owned a few Westerly acoustics and played some of your newer acoustics at my local Guild dealer. But nothing out there compares to this M65 neck. It seems like the neck on a Westerly/newer guitar have slightly wider heavier necks. Is there a spec i should look for that would lead me to finding this neck on an acoustic? I have been searching for similar era acoustics (d- 25/d 35) and i can confirm that some guitars have this neck (the ones i’ve played were sadly not for sale). Thanks !

    Reply
  19. David Breault
    David Breault says:

    Hello Ren,
    Let’s see; what Guilds have I owned? A ’65 Starfire VI, a ’61 M-65, a 60’s-era D-40, and my current love, a GAD 50. Please don’t stop making Orpheums just yet. I hope to afford a Slope-shouldered sunburst 12-fret Dreadnaught ASAP. I’ve also owned lesser brands. My pet peeve: Why, oh why do so many builders choose to pair a Bigsby tremolo on a semi-hollowbody with a floating bridge? PLEASE ANCHOR THE BRIDGE. If it’s a hollow body, so be it. I’ll have to be subtle with the tremolo. If you expect to return to pitch, having only one variable is crucial. Deep down, you know I’m right.
    The best Bigsby I’ve ever had is on my Epiphone Wild Kat. Guess which style bridge it comes with? Exactly. it was less than $400.00.

    Reply
  20. John Shannon
    John Shannon says:

    Hi, I wanted to ask about the status of left handed electric models. Guild has always been lefty user friendly with the exception of the recent models introduced under Fender’s ownership. It’s exceptionally difficult and time consuming to source the internet and other areas to find Guild left handed electrics. I collect and have been very fortunate to acquire a 1965 Starfire V, 1966 SF VI, 1968 SF IV, 2001 SF IV and a 1991 X-500 Stuart. I love them all and would glady buy more. There is a market….look at Southpaw, Jerry’s Lefty’s, Pancho’s Lefty’s…Lefty frets…Let’s Ask Guild forum….etc. I contacted Guild several times in the past few years and was told nothing as in..yes/no/maybe……Please consider doing this as we just play upside down….we aren’t weird/wrong or bad people !!! And we spend the SAME dollars as right handed players. Per Hans Moust, Guild was always willing to do left handed models under Gilbert Diaz. Thanks, John Shannon

    Reply
    • bob larson
      bob larson says:

      …yes plz, how about making more of a variety of lefty imports, incl electrics? can you make a lefty bluesbird usa under $2000? and lefty x-175 ?

      Reply
  21. Jerry Schmidt
    Jerry Schmidt says:

    I have a 1976 Guild D40NT and was wondering which pickup either “in-hole” or other would deliver the best reproduction sound for my guitar. I have miced it (rather inconvenient), and have tried a few lower priced pickups. I would like your expert opinion in this matter. Thank you.

    Reply
  22. Stephen 'Doc' Patt
    Stephen 'Doc' Patt says:

    Hi Ren and Company–As a longtime devotee and collector of Guilds (5 decades of studio work and touring), I wanted to thank you for your newest efforts here in The U. S. of A, and look forward to some great new guitars. I was wondering if you or your compatriots have any specific insights as to the ‘Why” of the F-series Maple acoustic 12-string–nothing comparable, in my experience–is it the bracing? The Maple? The abundant Jumbo curves? Any hints are welcome, and see you at NAMM! Cheers, S

    Reply
  23. David VanderMolen
    David VanderMolen says:

    Ren, I purchased a F30-R Standard a couple of years ago from Elderly in Lansing, MI. Fantastic guitar…’Hoping that the “new” Guild will continue the standard series. I would like to potentially purchase the Mahogany version in the future. This is a great series of guitars (from many respected guitar reviewers) at reasonable prices that should continue!

    David

    Reply
  24. Randall Scherrer
    Randall Scherrer says:

    I have a Guild 12-string gutar I bought new in the winter of 1970 in Milwaukee. Serial #53446. You have the serial number WRONG in your online listing. Please correct this, and let me know you’ve done this via email. Thanks, Randall Scherrer

    Reply
  25. Seth D Whitt
    Seth D Whitt says:

    Ren: I own over 100 guitars including several of your 90’s acoustics from Montana. I am guessing I own more Guilds than anyone period, including two Nashville custom shop models Tim Shaw done for me and my latest M20 cocobolo run you did and the Orpheum 12 fret rosewood. My lustful desire is the SF-5 reissue in the flame maple and emerald green finish. I know guild made a few in the 90’s but very few. Any plans for them later on? Would love to meet and talk with you sometime but due to just turning 65 with chronic low back problems cannot travel anymore but I do have all your You tube videos down loaded. I also have all the good Dearmond electrics made by I am sure Cort. Of the over 100 guitars I have I would guess at least 75 or 80 of them are guilds. I quite counting when I reached 100 because of guilt. I am addicted bad. Hope you can get Cordoba to hold to Guild’s wonderful traditions, seth david

    Reply
  26. Jake
    Jake says:

    I own Artist Award No.33635. I’ve had it for almost 60 years. Wondering when it was manufactured. Also wondering were the closest contact to Hampstead, New Hamphsire is located.

    Reply
  27. Mike Young
    Mike Young says:

    Would love to see you bring back the GF series small jumbos. Not only some of the best Guilds ever made, but some of the best production guitars made by anyone.

    Reply
  28. nick
    nick says:

    I have an older Guild electric solid body electric with hidden pickup. Its says it is an SF 46. I am trying to determine when it was made and approximate value. Any information would be appreciated.

    Reply
  29. Dean
    Dean says:

    Ren, Will you take an order for an F-612? If not now, do you have a target date? Maybe try a batch with different rosewoods (Guatemalan, Cocobolo, Madagascar, Indian) and Adirondack tops, and with which you have personal involvement. A new F-612 would certainly make a statement about Guild “coming back strong”, and I’m certain I’m not alone in wanting one. I’ve been a fan of yours and of Guild for many years, and I wish you both great success. Dean

    Reply
  30. John G-
    John G- says:

    I have a 1968 (bought new in 1969) M-20 and love it.
    I am going to be able to purchase another guitar soon.
    Should I wait until the California factory gets going. If so why.
    Am looking for something like the D-150 CE.
    Thank you
    John G-

    Reply
  31. Wesley
    Wesley says:

    Buying a M20 online and trying to figure out when it was manufactured, can anyone help? Made in Westerly RI, Model M20 Serial # FA100838. Struggling with the FA which I thought would be for a F20 model made in 1991

    Reply
    • mills
      mills says:

      I have one just a few digits off from yours. The M20 ‘reissue’ was made from 1998 – 2000 in Westerly, RI. Another very close serial# FA1008xx was made in 2000 according to Hans Moust (on LetsTalkGuild), So yours is most likely from the year 2000.

      Reply
  32. Steve Martin
    Steve Martin says:

    MADE IN CHINA
    I have just purchased the Guild D150CE Nat Westerly from an outlet in Germany via the internet site. After much research and debate about Gibson or GUILD I chose the GUILD. I am a new comer to Guitar playing only 15months and decided to invest in what I thought was an American guitar. Building my anticipation on the romance of such an iconic name and watching YOU TUBE factory tours of your factory in the USA, I now discover that it was MADE IN CHINA. I am now considering returning the goods as an REPRODUCTION not the genuine article. have I got what it says on the CAN?

    Reply
    • Guild Guitars
      Guild Guitars says:

      Hi Steve,
      Thanks for choosing Guild! It sounds like you did some extensive research and we apologize if you feel mislead. Your new Westerly Collection D-150CE was indeed made in China. If you are questioning the authenticity of your guitar, please use this form (http://guildguitars.com/contact-us/) and we can verify it for you. Guild has a long history of building guitars in America and as you may have read, we are building a brand new USA factory in Ventura County, California. We are excited to bring Guild American Manufacturing back!

      Reply
  33. Bill Johnson
    Bill Johnson says:

    As an owner and player of a 1960 CE100dp for 25 years I am extremely happy to find a well made new Guild out there. I bought the Starfire III as soon as it hit the floor. I have been associated with playing this old Guild Capris for so long I have inspired many other blues artists to buy them after hearing mine. Now I’m really happy with the new small humbuckers. The single coils in my old guitar are just not that quiet sometimes, and these new pickups in my Starfire are beautiful. I have now sold my $5000 Gibson 335 and have no regrets. My last CD was nominated for a JUNO award. That’s a Canadian Grammy BTW. It had my old Capris all over it. I have great expectation for my next disk after finding this guitar. I created a page on my website to spread the word about these new instruments. I’m now looking forward to replacing my CE-100 with your new model. Maybe a Polara for slide after that. Thank you for the effort you’ve made in reproducing my favorite guitars.

    Reply
  34. Bob Martin
    Bob Martin says:

    My mother bought me a Guild D50 in 1964 or 1965 and I still have it. I’ve owned Gibsons, Ovations and Taylors and I’ve always enjoyed the Guild best because of its deep, rich tone and ease of playing. I went to the factory in Westerly, RI (relocated from Hoboken, NJ) about 35 years ago to have a pickup installed and they had a picture of Brian May on the wall. It was the only picture on the wall and when I asked why it was there they said Guild had built an acoustic guitar for him. Pretty exciting stuff to me as I’m a huge fan of Queen and had seen them in 1978 at Boston Garden. I just wanted to share this as Guild will always hold a special place in my heart. Good luck in your new location!

    Reply
  35. Norm Kuennen
    Norm Kuennen says:

    I own a 1975 12 string guild and have been looking for a 6 string for about two years. I have tried Martins, Gibbons etc. and have tended toward vintage Guilds. I was in LA this past fall and visited several shops to find/play various guitars. Guilds feel and sound the best to me and a friend, Jay Aiken of the Bad Larry’s, told me that Ren was now at Guild. I would like to try a new Guild, and would consider a trip to Southern California. Please advise as to how I might best experience a new Guild.

    Reply
  36. Jason
    Jason says:

    Do you have any specific plans to reintroduce the F20 and/or M20 models? It seems these small box guitars have become quite marketable during the past couple of years and used examples are awfully hard to find. If I knew that you were planning to reintroduce these models it may shape my plans.

    Reply
  37. jason
    jason says:

    I’ve seen round 2…..but nothing (other than another anxious poster like me) specifically about the M20 or its release date. Helpful answer appreciated. Thanks

    Reply

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  1. […] time again for another installment of #AskRen! Last time, VP of R&D and Manufacturing Ren Ferguson answered a few of our burning questions about new […]

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