’58 M75 Aristocrat

After getting into old Les Pauls, I became interested in other companies’ contemporary, competitive offerings. The Guild company was small in comparison with Gibson or Fender, but has always ‘tried harder’ and has turned out some interesting, high quality instruments.

This guitar is fully hollow, with a floating bridge and two Franz brand P-90-type pickups. The control knobs are unusual and the gold-plated plastic-buttoned tuners are unique, not found on any other instrument. The neck is lovely, similar to a 1960 Gibson profile, so it plays beautifully, but is prone to feedback at higher gain and volume settings.

M75’s, aka ‘Bluesbirds’, are very unusual. They were made in small numbers and didn’t seem to catch on, and the few that do come up for sale tend not to be in very good shape. The large majority were sunburst like this, but a few were made in natural, which looks very good and at least one shipped with a gold top. For the collectors and gearheads amongst you, the Kluson machine heads on these are unique to these instruments.

This one has seen some life and is far from perfect but is in better condition than the few others I’ve seen. The pickup covers are not the same colour, suggesting that they started life on different instruments. The bridge is more or less correct, but sadly not original. The first letter of the Guild logo on the headstock has seen some touching up and there is overspray at both neck/body and headstock joins, suggesting some possible damage there.

The serial number dates the guitar to 1958, confirmed by the type of ‘Guild’ logo and ‘Chesterfield’ inlay on the headstock. It is a great recording guitar, excellent for blues and fusion leads. Something about the pickups overdrives really sweetly – probably why Larry Carlton used and immortalised one. It’s not really one for playing live as the hollow body feeds back and the Franz pickups are quite microphonic.

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