The M-20 was one of Guild's least expensive guitars in the 1950's and '60's, but it has become one of the company's most sought-after vintage instruments in recent years. The highly influential English singer/songwriter Nick Drake is known to have played the M-20 extensively and is pictured with one on the cover of the classic “Bryter Layter” album, so the model is linked in the popular imagination to his legend. Whether or not Drake actually recorded with an M-20 is the subject of some debate, but his beautifully delicate guitar parts sound right at home on this little guitar.
Even apart from this connection the instrument itself has much to recommend it. Introduced as the Economy M-20 in 1958, the Guild M-20 was a small-sized acoustic guitar with an entirely mahogany body. The rather spasmodic years of production for this configuration were from 1958 to 1965, then from 1969 to 1973, and then occasionally for a few years at a time with slightly varying specs until emerging as the short-lived S-30. And now, of course, the avalanche of “M-20” re-issues from the new Guild plant.
This particular M-20 dates to 1960, judging from the serial number (1462) and the fact that the label clearly says Hoboken, N.J.; Guild moved to Westerly, R.I. in 1966. Apparently the M-20s from ‘59 and ‘60 were all labeled with the strange 4-digit serial numbers, but not any of the other models. The label also has "factory second" faintly printed on it and some stuff crossed out, but whatever was the issue almost 60 years ago is surely irrelevant by now. The label has the famous Hoboken plant's "ghost guitarist" logo, which is kinda cool. As such, it is much rarer than the more typically encountered later models, with a somewhat more responsive sound.
This Guild M-20 has a solid mahogany top and solid mahogany back, sides, and neck, and as a small-body all-mahogany guitar, it has a different tonal character from any other Guild. With no binding and only the plainest inlay, the M-20 has a very austere look but a smooth, expansive sound. The guitar has a classic tortoise pick guard, a rosewood bridge with cool replacement rosewood pins, and the 14/20 fret rosewood fingerboard with pearl dot inlay ends in open vintage-style nickel Guild tuners and the Guild logo on the black headstock overlay. The neck at the nut is 1 5/8” wide, and the scale length is 24 ¾.” Presumably Guild's answer to the Martin 0-17, the M-20 has a slightly smaller depth (3 3/4") which makes it a fantastic couch guitar. The neck is slim and comfortable, somewhat in between typical Martin and Gibson specs, and arguably is a better guitar of this type than either company was producing in 1965—certainly better than Gibson’s slightly larger LG-0.
Now: this one is not perfect. Since M-20s have no binding, one would expect the edges to be kinda dinged up, and as you can see, it has dents, bruises, and scratches all over it. In addition to those and the finish crazing, there is an expertly repaired crack of the top upper bout which is not clearly visible in most of the pictures, and a re-glued and cleated seam below the bridge; all of this my luthier has checked and approved.
On the other hand, there are no cracks [repaired or otherwise] in the back, sides, or neck. It looks like the previous owner lightly scratched his initials on the back of the headstock, but they probably don't show in the pictures. Some good news: there's relatively little fret wear, and the action is set up right at 4/32" at the 12th fret low E. The neck looks straight and true, the action is consistent all the way to the 20th fret, the neck joint is solid, the bridge is tight, and I can only add that it plays great and sounds sweet, with its small size making its great Guild resonance a wonderful surprise.
The chip board case is almost certainly original: that's the good news. The handle, hinges, and latches are functional: that's more good news. The bad news is that the edges are starting to tear at the latches and hinges, and there's a patch of black duct tape conspicuously visible on the top. It’s authentic and all that, but if you love this guitar the way I think you will, you’ll probably want to find a hard shell case for it.
Buyer pays a flat rate of $55 for insurance and shipping to the lower 48 states; shipping costs elsewhere will be negotiated as necessary. Payment by Paypal is preferred; cashier’s checks are acceptable, but checks must clear before the guitar will be shipped.
I have made every effort to describe and illustrate this guitar and case with scrupulous accuracy. Please check out the pictures and ask any questions you might have before offering to purchase it. Its return will not be accepted unless it can be shown that it was egregiously misrepresented in this listing.
Thank you for your interest in this classic Guild guitar.
Payments by Paypal, cashier’s checks, money orders, or personal checks are acceptable, but all payments must clear my bank before the guitar will be shipped. I will CONSIDER reasonable offers, even including installment payments and trade-ins, but generally since I already attempt to price my guitars very competitively, unusual deals must be unusually sweet.
From henceforth [that's how retired English teachers talk], insurance and shipping to the lower 48 states is $55 due to constantly rising shipping costs unless a specific listing says otherwise; shipping costs elsewhere will be negotiated as necessary. I have sold guitars to Russia, Japan, Australia, and over 50 other countries, as well as almost every state in the USA. Since some of my guitars travel thousands of miles, I take care to use lots of packing materials, protect the neck inside the case, and of course de-tune the strings.
I make every effort to describe and illustrate each guitar and case with scrupulous accuracy. However, many of my instruments are well-played vintage items which are many years old, and I am not a luthier. One should assume that any guitar will require some set-up to satisfy your personal requirements, and that not every flaw or ding will be seen/recognized/described in the listing. Thus the return of an instrument will not be accepted unless it can be shown that it was egregiously misrepresented in this listing. Please read the listing carefully, check out the pictures, and ask any questions you might have before offering to buy.