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This article was originally published in issue #40
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Guild’s Westerly collection celebrates the company’s 1967 move from their original Hoboken, New Jersey factory to the Rhode Island based factory in Westerly. After this move, the company flourished into the Guild we know today and this series is inspired by the success the move helped to generate.
The Westerly F-1512 is part of the higher end 150 range and combines two of Guild’s specialities, Jumbo guitars and 12-strings for a large body instrument available with and without a built in Fishman pre-amp. Our F-1512E included the Fishman Sonitone pickup for a small upcharge verses the pickup-free F-1512 model.
Both F-1512’s feature the same solid Indian rosewood back and sides, matched with a solid Sitka spruce top and scalloped x-bracing plus very attractive ivory ABS binding and purfling for a classic look. The back sports a lovely inlay while the top has a three-part rosette with mother-of -pearl, ivory ABS and black bands giving the guitar a subtle, classy look. The neck is mahogany with an Indian rosewood fretboard, small mother-of-pearl dots, 20 vintage sized frets and a bone nut leading up to a classic Guild headstock with 12 Die-cast closed gear tuners, six per side and the Chesterfield headstock logo, similar to that used on the wonderful 1960s Guilds. To complete the design, you get an Indian rosewood bridge and bone saddle with ivory coloured plastic pins, tortoiseshell effect pickguard and the guitar comes with an excellent, lightweight hard case.
The F-1512 is a definitely a superb looking and well-built guitar finished in a natural polyurethane gloss that really allows the beautiful rosewood back and sides to show off their lovely grain. The guitar features exceptional work internally and externally with excellent fretwork and set-up from the factory. The guitar arrived at our studio detuned for transportation and, whilst tuning any 12 string can be a long process, the tuners on the F-1512 made the process as pain free as possible and the guitar retained its tuning very well indeed, even despite our studio lights.
This model has a vintage inspired, C-shape neck profile with a very comfortable 48mm nut width and friendly string spacing that makes the guitar as similar as possible to a six-string with little adjustment required in terms of playing technique to accommodate the 12-string design. A 16” radius gives excellent access for the left hand to all 12 strings when fretting chords and playing single note lines. The Jumbo body shape is surprisingly manageable too without feeling intimidating or like you’re hiding behind the guitar. Twelve string guitars don’t get much easier to play than the F-1512 and considering that this is a jumbo body that’s a great achievement from Guild.
From a tonal perspective that jumbo body shape imparts a massive sound to this model that projects superbly with a ton of acoustic low end thump and presence. Strumming a simple E chord is a truly pleasurable experience, not just because of the lush sound provided by 12 strings but because of just how big the sound is from this guitar. The guitar is really built for those big strumming passages that have become synonymous with the 12-string, but single notes are equally well represented here and the guitar isn’t necessarily a one trick pony in this regard.
The Fishman Sonitone, included on the ‘E’ model is a very nice, no frills pre-amp addition to the guitar and is hidden away just under the upper part of the sound hole. This is a good way to incorporate the pickup and electronics, since it doesn’t require a space to be cut out of the upper side of the guitar and leaves the wood intact for a nicer look. The controls are a simple as could be with just a Volume and Tone dial to set up and a standard strap button output jack. In use, the system translates a very convincing acoustic tone with no plastic or brittle qualities and a very satisfying bottom end crispness that represents the actual guitar's tone very well indeed and feels great to play.
The Guild Westerly F-1512E is certainly a very good 12-string that begs to be strummed all day long and is surprisingly affordable, given the high quality construction, finishing and name. Those looking for a good quality 12-string with a Jumbo body size can rely on the F-1512 or F-1512E to safely fulfil their requirements. OK, it may not be one of handmade US-produced Guilds but this is amazingly close and as such represents really good value for money.