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 Nick's 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. 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. 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.
With no binding and only the plainest inlay, the M-20 has a very austere look but a typically smooth, expansive sound. The guitar has a classic tortoise pick guard, a rosewood bridge with white 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.”
This particular M-20 dates to 1964, judging from the serial number (33001) and the fact that the label clearly says Hoboken, N.J.; Guild moved to Westerly, R.I. in 1966. As such, it is much rarer than the more typically encountered later models, with a somewhat more responsive sound. 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.
Now: this one is not perfect. Since M-20s have no binding, one would expect the edges to be kinda dinged up, but that’s not the case. One would also expect some buckle scratches on the back, and yet the back and sides are in excellent shape. However, there is an expertly repaired opening of the seam below the bridge, barely visible in most of the pictures, and a very old re-gluing of the bridge and shrinking pick guard; all of this my luthier has checked and approved. The top looks a bit wavy, but my luthier re-glued a brace or two and says it's good for another 55 years. A final cosmetic concern is that the black lamination on the headstock apparently was somehow heated so that it shrank; while it is re-glued, there is a bit more edge visible than usual.
Some good news: there's relatively little fret wear but moderate fret board wear—nothing that effects playability. The action is set up at a fast and comfortable 3/32" at the 12th fret low E. The neck looks straight and true, the action 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. It’s now a sweet-playing finger-picker's dream, and hopefully it will pass into the hands of a player able to make music and turn heads for a generation or two to come.
The included original chip board case is in pretty good vintage condition: the latches are rusty but functional, the vinyl cover is a bit loose at the bottom edge but all there, the lining is fairly clean, and structurally it is as solid as a vintage chip board case can be. This is a perfect vintage complement for this cool guitar, and naturally offers adequate light-weight protection.
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.