|Body And Neck:|
Today we’re looking at an electric guitar that certainly won’t appeal to everyone – in fact, some people really dislike its bizarre design. But others absolutely adore its quirky coolness and retro tone. Guild’s Thunderbird originally appeared in 1963, but went out of production five years later, making it a rare cult icon. Fast forward around 50 years and Guild have released this modern S-200 T-Bird, which is a faithful replica of the original Thunderbird. Let’s take a closer look before deciding whether we love or hate it…
The shape of the T-Bird is perhaps best described as a cross between a Fender Jaguar and Gibson SG that’s all been left in the sun a little too long. Essentially, it’s a very unique solid-bodied electric with a double-cutaway and completely asymmetrical design.
Available in both black and Antique Burst, this modern S-200 is made of solid mahogany, with a set vintage C-shaped mahogany neck and bound rosewood fretboard, featuring 22 easily-accessible frets with block inlays. At the top of the guitar sits the distinctive asymmetrical headstock which shows off a striking mother-of-pearl Thunderbird logo. It’s lightweight, very easy to play and surprisingly comfortable to hold when both standing and sitting.
The fit and finish is very adept, but nothing more than we’d expect in this sub-$1000 price range. One thing missing is the built-in kick-stand that featured on the original, but that’s something we can live without…
Onto hardware and electronics, and there’s plenty to mention. It’s voiced by two LB-1 humbuckers – replicas of Guild’s original Little Bucker humbuckers – at the neck and bridge position. The controls are where it gets pretty deep because this guitar offers a huge range of switching options, including standard volume and tone controls, switching between rhythm or lead modes, and the option of engaging a capacitor on the tone pots, to offer a sparkly single-coil-esque tone with no hum. These switches may seem unnecessarily complicated, but after getting used to them the versatility of the S-200 shines through.
Elsewhere, Guild ensure the rest of the hardware is period-correct, with a fully-adjustable Hagstrom Vintage Tremar bridge, which is a reissue of the original tremolo system, as well as Grover Sta-Tite open-gear tuners – always an odd sight on a modern electric guitar, but they work nicely. The S-200 includes a deluxe padded gig bag, which is a vital addition for this oddly-shaped guitar!
Just like the design, the S-200 oozes vintage in its tone, with the humbuckers offering a pretty unique output – tonally sitting somewhere between a modern full-size humbucker and a PAF. You can find pretty much every tone imaginable (within reason…), from thick, fat humbucker sounds to the jangly clean single-coil tones. With the myriad of switches, you can have some real fun with this guitar.
There are three main selling points that make the S-200 such a solid choice. The design, the playability and the versatility. It’s not going to appeal to everyone, in the same way a Dave Mustaine ‘In Deth We Trust’ Dean isn’t going to win awards in the vintage market. But for such great overall performance, this vintage replica is a worthy contender.