|Body And Neck:|
The M20 is a classic in the Guild line of acoustic guitars, having the distinction of being one of the first models off the line over 50 years ago when the company opened a new and larger production facility. We’ve decided to take a look at the M20E, which has all of the hallmarks that made the M20 such a coveted model while introducing electric capability for ease of use in live or recording situations.
All it takes is a quick glance at the M20E to know that you are in the presence of something great. The body has a concert style, meaning it’s a bit smaller than a dreadnought but not as small as a parlor guitar. The guitar is high-end, as solid mahogany is used for not only the top but also the sides and back.
There are two finish choices, with the Natural being slightly less expensive than the Vintage Sunburst. Either choice is simply beautiful, so you really can’t go wrong either way.
Solid mahogany construction is used for the neck as well, and the use of true Indian rosewood for the fretboard is always a good choice to get the best tone possible. Manufacturers use many sustainable alternatives for rosewood these days, but it’s nice to see that Guild goes the extra mile.
From a traditional standpoint, the hardware on the M20E keeps the vintage mindset firmly in place. You won’t find they use any sort of synthetic materials for the critical tone components. In fact, they use real bone for both the nut and the bridge saddle. The bridge itself mirrors the fretboard as it uses Indian rosewood as well.
Guild’s decision to use the LR Baggs Element VTC pickup system was a wise one. The Element pickup employs a thin film element instead of an undersaddle piezo setup (which is much more commonly used). This technology allows for a greater dynamic range without some of the shrillness and “quack” typical of most piezo systems.
The single volume and tone controls sit inside the soundhole; there’s no tuner or any sort of shaping adjustments to help control feedback. As an “overall system” from the preamp viewpoint, it may not have all of the features that many models do these days, but that’s really a minor concern in our eyes.
Tuning machines are vintage open-gear style and are extremely responsive. One big plus is the fact that the M20E comes with a deluxe hardshell case. That’s particularly important when you consider that the guitar is in the under $2,000 price range.
As you may expect, the M20E sounds exactly as a guitar at this higher end of the market should. The combination of the completely solid mahogany construction and the natural hardware materials makes for a very well balanced tone, with a deep bass response that lives in harmony with the mid-to-upper frequencies.
The amount of volume that comes from the concert size is deceiving, as it is much louder than you may think it would be, given the overall size.
That awesome unplugged tone is very effectively reproduced by the Element VTC system. You may think that a single tone control wouldn’t be enough to dial in usable sounds, but let’s call it what it is here: You have a top-shelf acoustic guitar that has an equally high-end pickup system integrated into it.
To put it simply, the sound you’ll get through any amplification (be it an acoustic amplifier or direct into a PA) has the same overall lush profile that you get when playing the M20E unplugged.
And yes, the feel and action are just as a pro-level guitar should be. Chords are a piece of cake, even those nuisance barre chords on the lower frets, and playing single-note melodies is extremely smooth.
All in all, the Guild M20E is a faithful reproduction of everything that the classic M20 had to offer, and the addition of the impressive pickup system makes this acoustic even more appealing. Sure, it may be more on the expensive side, but we think this is truly a case of “you get what you pay for.”
For more info about the Guild M20E, click here.
For more of the best acoustic guitars under $2,000, click here.
Featured Image via manufacturer's website