Getting ready to buy a D-50 - a couple questions

awerking

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I have a line on well-used D-50NT. It's a player with pick wear around the bottom of the sound hole, some cracking in the binding near the neck, some finish checking and some buckle rash. Somebody really liked this guitar and played it every day for a long time...

Serial number lookup (SN 128167) says it's from 1960, but I know the online lookups can be unreliable. The label is the same style as my Westerly-built D4, but does not list the city or state of manufacture. Here are my questions:

1) What year is the guitar?
2) What was the city/state of manufacture?
3) The buckle rash, finish checking and pick wear are all cosmetic, and from what I've read here and elsewhere not altogether uncommon for Guilds of this age. The cracked binding concerns me, however. What should I be looking for related to that issue?
4) What other condition issues should I be looking for?

Thanks in advance for the feedback! I've been shopping for a rosewood Guild dread for a long time, and none have seemed to fit the bill for me. They've all either been nearly perfect museum pieces, or they have structural issues like bridge lift or need a neck reset. This one seems to be in the Goldilocks Zone for me, and I'm pretty excited about it.
 

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fronobulax

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I'd recheck the serial. A 1960 would be a five digit serial. You gave six. I'd date SN 128167 to 1975. That would make it from Westerly RI and from a time when labels did not have a city listed.

I'd say the comsmetics are more of a function of being played and not directly because it is a Guild. But Guilds are Made to Be Played so...

Smarter folks than me will be along with things to look for but the big one is the neck angle since a neck reset would not be trivial.
 

Rich Cohen

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You got potentially a special guitar there. Just address any major structural issues such as bridge lifting, neck block moving or neck angle, or tuners not working properly, or major cracks.. Otherwise, leave the mojo alone. It's cool! I have a '65 D-50 and it has some mojo, which I'm not concerned about.
 

awerking

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This forum is awesome - thanks, everyone for the feedback!

Frono - the serial is, indeed, from 1975. I misread the Guild SN list when I looked it up earlier.

Rich/Frono - Thanks for the advice. It's a remote transaction so I'm rolling the dice so to speak on the structural concerns. I'm going to ask for a photo of the action and a photo of how a straight edge aligns with the bridge/saddle. Hopefully that will tell me whether or not this thing needs a neck reset.
 

awerking

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OK so here's a photo of a straight edge sitting on the fretboard running over to the bridge/saddle. Seems that the geometry is off a bit. I don't know enough about this to know if this is in neck reset territory or not - would love to hear others' opinions on the matter.
 

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Westerly Wood

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congrats on the D50, such an incredibly powerful, soulful and sweet sounding dread.
 

davismanLV

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Based on that one photo alone, I can see the saddle has been taken down already. So it's pretty low. It's the break angle of the strings over the saddle pressing DOWN on the soundboard that gives you volume and drives the soundboard. If the action at the 12th fret is okay for you, then you're good for now, but motion has started. Keep in mind also (and this is the kicker) that for however much you want or need to lower the action at the 12th fret, you must take DOUBLE that amount off the bottom of the saddle!! So if your action is good now, play on knowing that if it moves you're gonna have to take that saddle down again and that's going to affect the sound and volume. While the neck angle based on that photo is not terribly bad, you're going to have to judge by the action height currently. This is definitely in the USE CAUTION category to me. How's the action at the 12th? You might also be dealing with some below the bridge "belly" which can throw the geometry out of whack. Keep these things in mind when you offer. Neck resets are not inexpensive and it's major work. Bellying, some people install JDL Bridge Doctors and are totally happy with their results, others seem to dislike using them. It's definitely in the use caution area, although I cannot see the action height.
 

GardMan

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Was the picture of the straightedge test sent to you by the seller, or do you have access to the guitar? Altho' the straightedge falls below the top of the bridge, there still may be sufficient saddle and break angle... in a "borderline" case like this, the decision of when a guitar needs a neck reset can be rather subjective. This guitar may be stable and playable for decades more before needing a neck reset.

There are a couple other parameters I would like to know when buying used:

(1 & 2) the action at 12th fret for both bass E and treble e (measured in 64ths or decimal inched from the top of the 12th fret to the string); action is subjective... most quote 6/64" for E and 4/64" for e, but I prefer closer to 7/64" and 5/64", respectively);

(3 & 4) the height of the E/e strings above the sound board (top) when measured just in front of the bridge (range 3/8" to 1/2", with 1/2" being "ideal")

(5 & 6) and the height of the saddle above the bridge, measured under the E and e strings (the acceptable range is rather subjective... but you need enough to make adjustments to achieve your desired action and still have sufficient break angle);

(7 & 8) the relief (capo at the 1st fret, fret the E/e strings at the 14th fret, and use a feeler gauge to measure the tiny gap (spec is 0.006 - 0.012") between the top of the 7th fret and and E/e strings.

With these measurements, I can tell if I will be able to set the guitar up for my playing preferences.

You don't mention the asking price... but I would think a mid-70s D-50 with significant finish checking and pick wear, otherwise sound and NOT in need of a neck set might be in the $1000-1200 range in a private sale... maybe a bit higher, if it ticks all your boxes.
 

awerking

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Great feedback - thanks so much!

The guitar is not local so I can't put my hands on it. Relying on the seller for the pics.

I got pics of the action at the 12th - E and e are within the specs you quoted Gard Man.

I've decided to get it. Hopefully the pics are legit...
 

davismanLV

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Congrats!!! Didn't want to encourage or discourage too much based on one photo and it fell in the early gray area. So hopefully you'll share some photos with us?? We like photos!! :sneaky:
 

awerking

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WIll certainly share some photos when it arrives! Thanks, everyone, for all of the help!
 

Br1ck

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I love this age and wear condition in a guitar and in fact I'm ultra wary of case queens. Most of my guitars have been gigged or look like it. I want a guitar that sounds and plays great and there is no panic if you knock it into something.

I am also a sucker for accepting that repair work is part of the deal, and that a guitar you love is worth paying no mind from a value standpoint. My feeling is this. Your guitar is eventually going to need $1000 put into it. Would you rather just go buy a $1000 guitar?
 
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