Whether beefy strong-arm rhythm or delicate fingerpickery is your style, Guilds all-solid offshore guitars warrant a good look. Review by Jerry Uwins
Whatever size guitar you need, there’s probably a Guild for you. If a dread is your thing, this plainly-attired DV4 might appeal: it was originally introduced in 1999 as a flat-back alternative to the arch-back D4, and now it’s been relaunched. The DV4 is made at parent company Fender‘s Mexican factory and it’s one of only two Guild acoustics hailing from Mexico, the rest of the catalogue being sourced from either the New Hartford, Connecticut facility or, in the case of Acoustic Design instruments, from China. China is the country of origin for our second review subject, the GAD-F20E electro, based on the small-bodied F20 of the mid-1950s.
This new model continues the theme of the original, concentrating on the essentials rather than the frills, although tortie body binding, a similar inlay within the multi-ringed soundhole rosette and a rosewood facing for the peghead lift the aesthetic from the overly austere.
The all-solid spruce/mahogany body is near-matt finished, as is the 648mm-scale neck which comprises a three-way mahogany sandwich plus ‘wings’ to make up the width of the headstock. The rosewood fingerboard is unbound, and a second strap button on the bass-side shoulder is a worthy practical inclusion.
Within the confines of low-key trim, the instrument is very smartly turned out, the only arguable point being the neck which isn’t grain-filled and thus feels a little dry and rustic. All the same, it’s a fast, slick player, aided by a shallow, average-width profile plus the added handling comfort of rounded bevelling along the edges of the fingerboard and smoothly dressed fretting.
String spacing at the bridge is just a smidge under the regulation 55mm, so you won’t feel cramped when you venture into fingerstyle.
This guitar may not flaunt any glittery cosmetics, but it certainly packs a wallop, helped by its thin-coat finish and unfussy construction. It’s one loud dread, with responsive dynamics and an abundant degree of headroom. The tone – a combination of gutsy lows and bright, slightly dry highs – isn’t especially subtle or complex, but it all adds up to a big-hearted, direct sound that’s going to cut through a treat in any acoustic context.
The stripped-back DV4 is purpose-designed to compete with dreads from the likes of Martin and Taylor, and with its steroidal sound it's a tough rival. At this price, there are few other choices.