1954 Guild M-75 Aristocrat

This is a vintage 1954 Guild M-75 Aristocrat electric guitar. This particular example, serial number 1870, is in excellent original condition. While the aesthetic design of the “Bluesbird,” as it would later become known, was clearly inspired by Gibson’s Les Paul, the construction approach was significantly different, and this set it apart from it’s famous rival. The Guild M-75 featured; a carved Spruce top, a hollow/chambered body construction, a height adjustable rosewood bridge, a traditional “harp-shaped” Guild tailpiece and other refined appointments. Famously appropriate for jazz, blues or rock, the “Bluesbird” has a unique tone all it’s own; mellow, warm, rich and dark.

This particular Guild M-75 is in good original condition, and while it displays typical evidence of playing wear, there are no significant condition or structural issues. The are no cracks, no breaks, and no repairs. The original nitrocellulose sunburst finish is nice with typical arm and leg wear patterns on both the top and the back. There is a significant amount of playing wear on the back of the neck, and some pick wear that has worn through the finish on the top near the “frequency tested” soap bar P-90-style single-coil pickups. The original hardware is worn and rubbed, although it is obvious it resembles gold-plating. The original “ice cube” knobs are intact and beautiful. All of the hardware is in excellent functional condition.

Interestingly enough, this example features a matching set of plastic parts, including; the pickguard, the heel cap and the back control panel. While I am aware that M-75s did not usually come with a plastic panel on the back of the guitar, I have seen them with matching heel caps, in addition to, the sometimes included toggle switch ring. For whatever reason, this guitar has a back plate, and the back plate is made from the exact material as both the guard and the heel cap. The consensus already determined that early Guild guitars are rather crude, so it wouldn’t be a stretch for this era Aristocrat to have such an unusual feature.

Aside from the minor anomalies, this guitar is an excellent instrument. The neck’s profile and texture feels incredible. It sounds like a ton of bricks, yet it barely weighs 5 pounds. Both pickups are highly efficient and all (3) positions sound incredible. The neck is straight, the truss rod works, and the action is low. The original small frets are quite minimal, but somehow still render the guitar very enjoyable to play. Don’t let the fancy aesthetic fool you, this guitar is authentically organic and rich with vibe.

When it came to performance, the Aristocrat’s body construction and pickups produced a thicker, mellower, somewhat muted sound – Guild’™s catalog called it “a magnificence of tone never before achieved in a guitar of this size.” Although its magnificence is arguable, it may well have been more appealing to jazz and traditional players than the sharper, more powerful modern sound of the Les Paul. Large block fingerboard inlays (pearloid, though, rather than mother-of-pearl) and gold-plated hardware had nothing to do with the Aristocrat’s sound, of course, but the ornamentation nevertheless gave it a more sophisticated look. Guild dropped the Aristocrat in ’63, but it returned in ’67 under a new name – the BluesBird – still with the routed mahogany body with spruce top. Humbucking pickups replaced the soapbar single-coils, but otherwise, changes were cosmetic.

As mentioned, the guitar is clearly patterned after the Les Paul, but it is a vastly different instrument. The semi-solid construction gives the Aristocrat the tonal warmth of a hollow body while allowing the volume that the new music demanded. It also is much lighter than a Les Paul, an important feature for long gigs. It is equipped with Guild “Frequency Tested” soapbar single coil pickups, tone and volume controls for each pickup, and a “lightning flip” pickup selector switch. The guitar has Honduras mahogany back and sides and a spruce top. It measures 13 1/2″x17 1/4″ x 2″ with a 23 1/4″ scale that 1950s Guild literature designates the “new popular short-action professional scale.” Gold hardware and block inlays on a rosewood board appoint the Aristocrat. These guitars have become quite popular in the last several years. They play like butter and are tone monsters. The guitar can go from a rather subtle jazz style tonality to a “cuts like a knife” rockabilly with–dare we say, just a flip of the aforementioned lightening flipper.

Once again, the guitar weighs 5 lbs 2 oz., and includes a non-original hard case.