Westerly to Corona question

Brucebubs

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OK so I have a F-412 made in Corona.
It is a factory 'second' with a faulty top coat.
It's dull, goes cloudy where it touches your warm body and it's never going to be a lovely glossy guitar.
So a factory reject from Guild's least desirable period!

But here's the thing .. it stays in tune for weeks, plays like a dream and sounds superb. (Testimony to being a great design right from the start!)

What went wrong in the move to Corona?
Did any Westerly staff move to the California factory?

 

GAD

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Others will no doubt chime in with more knowledge than I have, but as memory serves the Corona factory was already good at making electrics, but not so good at making acoustics.
 

richardp69

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Others will no doubt chime in with more knowledge than I have, but as memory serves the Corona factory was already good at making electrics, but not so good at making acoustics.
I think that's the common understanding. I had two clunker Corona acoustics but also had 3 really good ones. That's still too much risk for me. I'll have no problems buying a Corona electric but will be pretty wary of the acoustics (unless it's a killer price I can't pass up)
 

davismanLV

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I think a lot of Corona acoustic owners think highly of their guitars. Mistakes happened at every factory. Also, the move to Tacoma in such a short period of time caused some problems with guitars made in Corona that were let go without warranty and at lower prices rather than move them. If I recall correctly. If I'm mistaken on that, someone will be along soon to let you know.....

p.s. - your guitar is BEAUTIFUL!!! :encouragement:
 

dreadnut

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Better send it to me for a complete evaluation, LOL. That thing is gorgeous; the top looks like a jumbo version of my D-25M.
 

Rich Cohen

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It never ceases to amaze me the great guitars that we LTGers possess.
 

Brucebubs

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I've had it for about 10 years now.
Bought on ebay - shipped from USA to me in Australia.

Came with original hard case.

Total cost including shipping came to less than $US700 ... how could I resist!

I actually took this guitar with me when my brand new Martin Grand J12-40E Special needed a pro set up.
I told them, 'set up the Martin to match this Guild'.

Not only did they do a fantastic job on the Martin but they rang me and asked permission to give the F-412 truss rods a minor tweak.
So I got back 2 superbly set up guitars.

 
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adorshki

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But here's the thing .. it stays in tune for weeks, plays like a dream and sounds superb. (Testimony to being a great design right from the start!)
Yeah Corona didn't get no respect when I first joined up and only in the last 3 or 4 years started shedding some of the residue.
My informal mental tally yielded about a 15% "Underwhelmed" new owner reaction during my first 5 years or so, far higher than any other factory.
I think now part of it was that the guitars were designed by a process which recreated guitars that needed to open up to achieve their peak. (See my link to Jay Pilzer's article below)
I myself was underwhelmed by my (Corona) D40 which I bought new, even called it the "Sonic runt of the litter" for many years until it finally started opening up, took over ten years.
But I always said build quality was every bit as good as Westerly and (ironically) finish was best of the 3.
"Ironically" because finish blems were an early common reason for 2nds being let to market (more on that later).
Then one day was reading an interview somebody posted here with one of the Fender honchos during Corona era (whose name I can't recall and for which I couldn't find a link last time I looked), but who said something that made me sit up and take notice:
"Acoustic Guitars hit a high point at about 10-15 years old"..and this guy was a VP during Corona era. (Was it the son of the guy they lifted from Guitar Center, I think?)
Anyway I said to myself: "Well it's sure true enough with my D40".
It also helps to understand just what Fender did while planning for the move:
They acquired vintage samples of Guilds from various periods and tried to take the best characteristics from each one and set up standardized blueprints for better consistency going forward.
(I think, btw, those became the source of many GAD designs, as the timing of the introduction of the GAD line is suspiciously coincidental. It's only a pet hypothesis on my part, but more than one of 'em has been confirmed over the years)
The whole process was outlined by Jay Pilzer, former member here and a respected Guild expert of the time, in this article:
https://www.vintageguitar.com/21567/guild-in-the-post-fender-era/
The title "Guild in the Post-Fender Era" is a little deceptive, more accurately it should have been called "...the post-Fender acquisition Era"
What went wrong in the move to Corona?
I don't think it's so much a question of "What went wrong" as "They never really got a chance to hit their stride".
OK, part 2 of "what happened" and not covered in that article is that Fender invested in a brand new finish spraying booth in Corona where nitro had never been sprayed on flat-tops, indeed, where nobody had ever built a flat-top before.
In fact they built a whole new dedicated facility to build the Guild acoustic flattops because Corona had never even built acoustics before.
A whole new team of builders had to be recruited and trained and in fact "kits" of Westerly-built subassemblies (like necks) were sent to Corona for 'em to practice things like neck-setting.
There's a myth for example that these are the earliest Corona models released, but I've never seen any credible confirmation of that (like from Hans) and since they were supposed to be production technique prototypes I seriously doubt any were actually sold.
But by golly you can see for sure there must have been a lot of necks left over at Westerly (or maybe built for the purpose) because the earliest JF30's and D40's for example still had Westerly-style "snakehead" headstocks, but the Corona 'stocks universally became "paddles" when those were used up.
Following up on the spray booth:
Spraying NCL well is an art not easily learned, nothing but practice hones those skills.
So it only stands to reason that the finish issues were the biggest mis-step Fender had very early on, but seem to be confined to the first year ('02).

Did any Westerly staff move to the California factory?
Offers were made, but not a one.

From that article (originally published in 2010):
"Some believe Fender pulled the plug on Corona just as its builders reached the end of that learning curve, and that later Corona guitars are fine instruments."
I'm in this school, and as time goes on I think the market is finally catching up this perception as well.
 
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Brucebubs

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Thanks adorshki for that great reply.

That Jay Pilzer article was excellent, thanks again.
 
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Cougar

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OK so I have a F-412 made in Corona.
...But here's the thing .. it stays in tune for weeks, plays like a dream and sounds superb.... What went wrong in the move to Corona?
From my (nominal) experience, nothing!

....Fender invested in a brand new finish spraying booth in Corona where nitro had never been sprayed on flat-tops.... Spraying NCL well is an art not easily learned, nothing but practice hones those skills.
So it only stands to reason that the finish issues were the biggest mis-step Fender had very early on, but seem to be confined to the first year ('02)....
They must have picked up the skill pretty quickly, because the teardrop burst finish on my '02 JF30-12 is fabulous!
 

adorshki

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They must have picked up the skill pretty quickly, because the teardrop burst finish on my '02 JF30-12 is fabulous!
You should see the first 5 practice pieces from that run.
:glee:
(Couldn't resist!)
 

adorshki

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I heard somewhere that practice makes perfect. :tiger:
Yah I know you got the joke, but joking aside, all the finish blems I recall had to do with things that could be ascribed to improper curing (Bruce's fogging issue, checking for unexplained reason on a D40) between coats as opposed to poor centering of a burst like we've heard about from a couple of other factories.
That in itself could be blamed on a maker changing the lacquer formula due to changing regs or even maker requirements; lower solids/higher plasticizer content could need longer drying time between coats for example.
I don't know if that's true, just speculating, but it is known that NCL formulas were undergoing rapid change to help meet VOC regs at the time.
So to be fair the issues may not have all been "Fender's fault".
 

SFIV1967

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If you are interested to learn a bit more about the initial time in Corona, watch this 18 minute video. It was shared here before but still great history to watch for those who had not seen it yet. 2002 was just the first year for Guild in Corona!


Ralf
 
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