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Thread: D-55 Dilemma

  1. #1

    D-55 Dilemma


    I joined awhile back and donít post often. I have been searching for a D55 for about a year. About 1.5 years ago, I was looking for a nice guitar and didnít know anything about Guilds. I ran into a Used D55 and it blew me away. Didnít buy it on the spot because I knew nothing about them. Came home did some research and went back but it was gone. Such started the obsession.

    I ended up buying a Taylor 814CE and I love it but couldnít get that guild out of my mind. Finally, last week, I bought a used Westerly Late 90s D55 at guitar center online. My thinking was that it wouldnít be in great shape - but that I would play it a bit and validate that I do still love them (as I have had a bear of a time finding any to play and only had that one short experience in the local guitar store).

    Well, it came in the mail. And, 1) it is not in as good condition as it was described, but 2) I freaking love the way it sounds. Sounds better than the Taylor and all my other guitars. Amazing sustain, beautiful tone, comfortable to play - it sucks me in, canít put it down.

    Hereís the thing ... I am leaning towards returning it and continuing the hunt for the right one. I guess my question is should I expect to fall in love with every D55 I encounter - Iíve now played the Tacoma built one in the store and this westerly model. Iím nervous about giving this one up, unless you guys tell me they are all just that darn good - like the two I have played at this point?

    This one has a few dings and finish cracks - Iím ok with that, but on the high E side of the neck the finish is worn away and the binding on the neck is lose and will likely get worse - looks a little rough in particular near the nut.

    Again the guitar sounds great - best Iíve ever played - BUT, Iím not sure the condition is worth the $1900 I paid given that for this price occasionally there are nicer ones and for a few hundred more, it seems there are often D55ís on reverb in the low 2ks. If I can expect all D55ís to consistently be this awesome - I feel like I should return it and keep the hunt going. What do you think? Would you return it?

    Second, as I am leaning to return, I have a question. Aesthetically, I like New Hartford D55 (based on pictures) - I think the open tuners are sharp. But I understand that they are a lot lighter? One thing I like about this westerly compared to the Taylor is the Taylor is so light it feels like a toy - I love the heft of this westerly and the way it thumps me when I play it. Just love the way it feels. Would I be disappointed with a New Hartford in this regard? Would you expect a New Hartford to be different Tonally?

    So, I guess to summarize my question to the experts is, which should I do ...

    1) keep this westerly and have someone fix it up a bit. I will be into it for as much as I could by a better
    Condition one, but I know I love this oneís sound.

    2) return it to GC, and search for a better condition New Hartford, because I love their look and tonally they will feel and sound the same as the westerly.

    3) return it to GC and search for a better condition westerly, Tacoma, or other plant before they (seem to have been to my novice eyes) were redesigned a bit at New Hartford.

    Thanks to all - I appreciate all of your thoughts and experience.

  2. #2
    Senior Member SFIV1967's Avatar
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    Nov 2010
    Bavaria / Germany
    That's a difficult question to answer! For me I would probably decide for number 1 !
    Reason is that I was in the same position like you, for me it was a Martin custom version dreadnought made for Guitar Center. I played one in a Guitar Center in Oregon and it had the best sound of any high end guitar they had! However the wood did not look so nice on that one compared to pictures I had seen before. So I decided to skip as I thought it should be easy to find another one. Now as you see I am in Germany. So after a while I found the same model in a shop in Atlanta online! The look on the pictures was perfect so I bought her. But when she arrived, she was spotless, wonderful looking...but...the sound was nowhere compared to the one I played! I decided to keep the guitar as sending it back was not really an option especially as I had to pay a lot of import tax. It's a nice guitar and I like it but it's not the guitar I played back in Oregon....
    Anyway, I would be afraid the sound of a better condition one would match the sound you love on the one you have now. At the end you could sell the Taylor (if that would be an option) and use part of the money to fix the one you really love.
    But it's a really hard decission. Let's see what others think!

  3. #3
    One other thought, in case anyone is interested. Just spent some time paying the Taylor 814CE v-class next to the westerly D55. They really are very different guitars. The Taylor is, I think louder. But certainly thinner and ďtinnierĒ. The D55 much clearer and, while not as loud, the bass sounds boomier.

    The D55 feels like I am playing something of substance that I can really dig into. The Taylor is really comfortable in fit, but really light. Almost canít tell itís there - which is nice too.

    The Taylor is a cutaway and gets me into the upper frets; but the sustain in the D55 is like nothing I have ever heard.

    The electronics in the Taylor are very good. The neck and finish on the D55 are more comfortable to my hands.

    In the end, very different guitars - but both pretty awesome. I feel fortunate that I can A/B them in my bedroom - I must be doing something right. There is a place for both.

    I would like to play the D55 next to a Martin HD35. Based on recall, I think the Guild sounds nicer than the HD35s I have played.

    At any rate, I am more resolute than ever that I NEED a D55 - just need to figure out if it is this one, a nicer westerly-ish, or a nice New Hartford.

    Thanks for reading my ramblings.

  4. #4
    Thanks Ralf. Yes that is what I am afraid of - I get a nicer one without seeing it in person first and it ends up not sounding as fantastic as this one.

    In my heart I am hoping the consensus will be ďDude, every D55 is exactly that awesome. Return it and get one that you love to look at because you will love to play all D55s - they are all that goodĒ

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by TBK711 View Post
    ....So, I guess to summarize my question to the experts is, which should I do ...
    Well, I'm no expert, and others will likely differ, but in my purely personal opinion, I'd return it and wait around for one in excellent condition, and at a better price. The same model guitars can sound a bit different, but Guilds are remarkably consistent. I would not steer away from New Hartford either - they're typically awesome.

    I just looked at D-55s on reverb (I'm a bit more familiar with jumbos), and I was pretty surprised at the high prices, even for D-55s in just "good" condition (which I would steer away from). I guess I got really, really lucky, but my pristine condition New Hartford F50R was around $1650, IIRC. (You think the Guild dread sounds good, you ought to try a jumbo!)

    On the other hand, if you're in TRUE LOVE with the one you've got, I wouldn't think the neck binding would be very difficult or expensive to have fixed. Is the finish cracked, or just crazed? Cracks can be cleated, but crazing is purely cosmetic and not really a problem. Is the action good? How's the neck angle? I don't really know what you can do about the finish on the neck, but if the "roughness" and cosmetic problems don't really bother you, well, I guess you could keep it. I just personally prefer excellent condition, great looking guitars. Plus, they're less likely to need significant repairs.

    Yep, tough decision, but really a win-win. Keep us informed!
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1972 Epiphone FT-160 12-string
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    2010 Epiphone Les Paul Standard trans amber 

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  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    North Central Massachusetts
    My thought might be to move on, but you'll have that sound in your head and even if you happen on a "better" D55, you may think the previous one was stronger in your mind's eye. Tough call.

    That said, I have had a Tacoma D55 which was excellent, presently have a New Hartford D55 which is "more excellent," and have very briefly played an Oxnard D55 which to me was very nice but not as nice as the previous. The Oxnard build could certainly change with time. And I am probably damning with faint praise.

    There is such a world of difference in the sound between a Taylor build and a Guild, that I suspect that difference you see between the two guitars will always be there whether you keep the present D55 or move on.

    And before anyone pegs me as a Taylor-basher, let me say I think that a Taylor is probably the best guitar for use on stage with a pickup, best I have ever heard...Guild with a DTAR being awful close or maybe the same but available no more, so...acoustically, sitting-on-the-edge-of-the-bed, I understand your epiphany completely
    Last edited by Bill Ashton; 02-10-2019 at 01:40 PM.
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  7. #7
    Dude - Please do not keep a guitar that GC misrepresented. It encourages this kind of experience. I am more and more hearing about guitars whose condition is not as described. Return it immediately and keep looking.

  8. #8
    I'm with Mark - I'd return this one to GC asap and hold out for one in better overall condition.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator fronobulax's Avatar
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    Part of me wants to say close your eyes and play it. If this is The One keep it and remember that sound until you learn to live with or fix the cosmetics.

    But the bigger part of me thinks the neck binding might require some work, and there will be other guitars, and GC really needs to be told their condition descriptions are somewhere between inadequate and wrong. So take it back.

    I remember things that didn't happen but I thought I heard a story about a return to GC because the condition was not as described and GC addressed the issue by offering a partial refund, effectively lowering the price.
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    What he said.
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by fronobulax View Post
    ....I heard a story about a return to GC....
    My story is, I bought a guitar from a GC across the country. It arrived with a bad crack in the soundboard, but I don't think it matters - GC accepts returns for any reason. Anyway, I took it to my local GC and got a full refund on the spot, no problem.
    2011 Guild F50R Sunburst
    2002 Guild JF30-12 Sunburst
    1991 Guild JF30-12 Ltd. Ed. Wood Grain Blue
    2018 Gibson Ltd. Ed. Songwriter Deluxe 12-string
    2015 Martin GPC12PA4 12-string
1972 Epiphone FT-160 12-string
    2012 Epiphone Dot CH

    2010 Epiphone Les Paul Standard trans amber 

    2013 Yamaha Motif XS7

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