The Guild Thunderbird was the top-of-the-line Guild solid body electric. Well-built, sleek, totally original, and supremely quirky, it certainly stands out - yet never achieved the longevity or recognition it perhaps deserved. The Guild Thunderbird had interesting electrics with both a rhythm and lead circuits - allowing a simple switch between two preset sounds - and a flip out stand built into its back. Its an unconventional design, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the Guild Thunderbird S-200 has to be one of the most stylish guitars ever produced!
The Guild S-200 was first produced in 1963, with the same 'batwing' body design of the Polara S-100 and Jet-Star S-50 which launched at the same time (compare these three guitars in the 1963 Guild catalog), with the more familiar asymmetric body style being introduced less than a year later. Production ran until 1968, with the redesign of Guild solid bodies more in line with Gibson's SG range.
1964 Guild Thunderbird S-200 Image Heritage auctions
The Guild Thunderbird S-200 was described as follows in the 1968 Guild catalog
Powerfully exciting! An instrument for the hard-driving guitarist who searches continually for new horizons of sound. This beautifully balanced, comfortably contoured solid body electric is 13 1/4" wide, 19 1/4 " long, and only 1 9/16" deep. Has Guild's lightning-action neck with deluxe bound fingerboard having 8 inlaid position blocks. Scale is 24 3/4", with 22 frets. Equipped with 2 adjustable Guild Anti-Hum Pick-Ups with 2 tone and 2 volume controls, plus solo/rhythm selector switch, solo tone modifying switch and 2 off-on pick-up switches. Engineered on the humbucking principle, Guild's Anti-Hum Pick-Ups are hypersensitive to every string vibration, yet filter out all hum and other interference. At no extra cost, offers the convenience of the Guild Built-In Guitar Stand, which holds the instrument securely in ready-to-use-position. Has Guild Adjusto-Matic 6-Way Bridge, specially engineered vibrato tailpiece, and input jack. Factory-fitted with Guild EA-610 Strings.
The S-200 was certainly well-equipped with dual pickups (single coil at first, but more often Guild humbuckers), two separate tone-circuits, Hagstrom vibrato tailpiece and bridge, and built-in stand - but it was also equally well appointed with bound neck, deluxe block neck markers and headstock inlay.
Muddy Waters had a brief endorsement deal with Guild, and played the Guild Thunderbird on has superb Electric Mud album, Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane) used one on much of Surrealistic Pillow, aswell as Zal Yanofsky (Lovinâ€™ Spoonful), Lowell Levinger (the Youngbloods), and in more recent times Dan Auerbach (Black Keys).
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