1970 Guild S-100 Polara Solidbody Electric Guitar

My friend Dick Robson stopped by this morning to drop off a mandolin, borrow a bass, and gift a "funky old electric" that had, apparently, been pulled from a burned house. The funky old electric turned-out to be this purr-tastic Guild Polara with all of its original bits and including the original, weird Hagstrom-issue whammy and bridge unit. Needless to say, I gifted him said bass right back and it was off happily making some noise amidst a Les Paul and PRS an hour later.

As for this guy -- my first hour of the day was spent giving it a fret level/dress, tightening everything up, and giving it a proper setup. As usual for a guitar with such a long neck, the board ramped-up slightly near the body joint so the frets in that area had a bit more material shaved off of them -- but aside from that (which doesn't really matter, anyway), what a player this has become! It plays on-the-dot (1/16" overall at the 12th fret) and sounds outrageous. I was expecting a mellow/thick humbucker sound out of this but what it produces is actually more of a Gretsch-style "countrified gent" twang on steroids. Well done, Guild!

Specs-wise, though, the guitar obviously apes a Gibson SG. First of all, it's got the twin humbuckers, a 3-way switch, volume/tone for each pickup, all 22 frets clear of the body, a "horn-centric" look to the cutaways, 24 3/4" short scale, 1 11/16" nut width, and a slim, C-shaped (also Gibson-ish) neck profile. Where it departs from that Gibson voicing is in the body which seems to be 4-piece maple and the cut of the body which is ever-so-slightly offset. That last detail is a really smart choice, I think, as the body fits like a glove between the leg and ribs.

The sunburst looks classy but you can see discoloration and finish "bleed" here and there. Apparently, that occurred with heat damage during a house fire -- though the guitar is otherwise darn clean.

The headstock has the classic Guild "Chesterfield" inlay.

The frets are medium-sized, the rosewood board has a flatter 14" radius, and it's also bound. The block inlay is pearloid.

Originally, the slotting for the strings on the Hagstrom-supplied bridge was not adjusted for the radius of the Guild neck (it was too steep). Fortunately, that's what repairmen are for... and now it's good to go.

Above is the bridge as it came in the shop. I'd compensated the saddles about how they should be, but I knew it needed to really move back about 1/16" more on the bass side.

To get that extra compensation, I drilled a second "mounting hole" for the bridge to rest on its adjuster mechanism.

It looks a little odd if you're paying close attention, but the seating is perfectly fine and now the guitar plays in tune up the neck. I've strung it with a set of 46w-10s.

All the original wiring was in great shape and unmolested internally. Note the little brass markers for the knob positions.

The "tummy cut" is a thankful addition to the back carve.

Check out the finish wonk back here! I like it, in an odd way. The Waverly tuners are also a nice touch.

The bass-side waist has some patches where the finish has chipped right off.

Did I mention an original, fitted, hard case? Nice!


Unknown said…
Looks awesome !
Unknown said…
I still have my '63 Polara...a guitar my dad traded in my Kay "Thin Twin" electric in for back in 1965. It has the asymmetrical head and the built-in stand. My only electric until 1972 and played throughout all my early bands' gigs.
Rob Gardner said…
What an interesting guitar, Jake. A set neck too, I guess, and Waverly's to boot. And not too much evidence of the fire...
Art 'Dreco said…
They are Cool and funky guitars. I know a guy in a rockabilly band that recorded an instrumental called Return to Polara just because it was his favorite.

jjeffsgizmo said…
Had a REALLY beat up mid-60s red one. Since it was SO wasted, had it gutted, replaced stupid vibrato thing with a stop tailpiece, wide travel tune-o-matic bridge, Gibson neck and Duncan bridge pickups, Gotoh tuners, jumbo fret refret OVER binding, good pots. Ended up still ugly as hell, hole in top where Hagstrom was, crack in body at jack, dings, dents, scrapes GALORE, but was best playing guitar I've ever owned! Sadly, was stolen... :( Found another one, early 70s, mahogany finish, all original. Had it refretted just like other one. Plays just like other one, BETTER than any of my other guitars, including my Les Paul Jr., '83 Gibson Moderne, Custom Shop ES-335, etc. FAR underrated gems! Will DEFINITELY buy more, as I find 'em!
Roggli said…
Nice guitar !
I looked for Hagstrom parts and one link related to your site, for some reason....
Maybe because the bridge and Tremar-tremolo was made in Sweden (Älvdalen) for Guild in the Hagström plant in the 60-70´s, but that you probably already know.
Hope you will have a lot of fun and will enjoy the gear ! Cheers from Roger !
Unknown said…
Do you still have this guitar????