1955 Guild F-40 Valencia Jumbo Guitar

I very rarely get to work on cool old '50s Guilds. They're just not very common. It's even rarer that I get to work on one so early. This guy has a missing serial number on the label but the first digit is a 2 so it can only have been made in '55 per this thing's design and the known serial charts. It also has a New York label in the soundhole which means it's pre-'56 as by '56 they were building in Hoboken, NJ.

At that point, Guild was basically an Epiphone offshoot as they'd acquired so many ex-Epiphone employees. Surprise-surprise, too -- this thing sounds and handles an awful lot like a period Epiphone flattop. It's outrageously loud and punchy, pretty directional in its voice, and has an archtop-like snap and cut to the treble and mids. The low-end is a bit more like a '50s Gibson -- woody and chunky and clean. It's a huge-sounding guitar.

I mentioned to a customer trying it out that a lot of these guitars wound-up in honky tonk and country bands because you can both play the "boom-chuck" snap-style chordal work and then also lean into them to play lead like an archtop. It was only later when was taking photos and pulled the case out that I saw the period country-and-western sheet music covers. See what I mean? Think that Kitty Wells or Hank Williams snap sound that keeps the band together and means you don't need drums. That is what this can do for you to a T. It's so good!

Anyhow, repairs were straightforward but a little time consuming. Post-repairs it's playing perfectly -- fast and easy -- and, of course, has that great big tone. The neck is almost exactly the same feel as a period Epiphone. It's got a narrower 1 5/8" nut and very-tight, 7 1/4" radius to the fretboard. Mix that with the 25 1/2" scale length and you have almost a vintage Fender-like feel to the neck, save that the back of it has a soft V profile that's all Epi in nature.

All that said, this boat is a gem. I'm jealous of it.

Repairs included: a neck reset, fret level/dress, new compensated bone saddle, much shrunken binding regluing and mending, cleaning, and setup work.

Top wood: solid spruce

Back & sides wood: ply maple back, maple sides

Bracing type: x

Bridge: rosewood

Fretboard: rosewood

Neck wood: mahogany

Action height at 12th fret:
3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
String gauges: 54w-12 lights

Neck shape: slim-medium C/soft V

Board radius: 7 1/4" (tight)

Truss rod: adjustable

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: medium-low

Scale length: 25 1/2"

Nut width: 1 5/8"

Body width: 16"

Body depth: 3 3/4"

Weight: 4 lbs 15 oz

Condition notes: it's completely original save for a new bone saddle and some small pieces of replacement binding. The finish shows wear and tear here and there but mostly on the back and sides. There's weather-check throughout the finish as you'd expect, though. The heel cap and truss rod cover have shrunken. I can replace the heel cap if desired but I left it at the moment for history's sake. The truss cover has a damaged upper bit but still works fine. My bits of replacement binding do not match the originals but are so small that you don't really notice. I approached it as "why not show its age?" rather than "let's make this perfect." I think the effect is nice -- like an old Japanese pot.

It comes with: its original chip case and funky old sheet music. I can probably scrounge a decent hard case for this if desired.