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Guild Surfliner - odd decisions were made here


This guitar is cool but some of the design decisions are questionable.

When you think Guild, a solid-body guitar is not the first thing that usually comes to mind. Most players would think of their acoustic models first (like the D-20, always a good choice), hollow bodies second (like the X-175 Manhattan Special, also a good choice) and semi-hollow third (like the Starfire I DC, which, again, is a good choice).

The only two solid-body guitars most know from Guild is the S-100 Polara and S-200 T-Bird...

...but then there's this new offering, the Surfliner (see current listings here). This is a cool guitar but has some oddities to it.

Before getting to the oddities, I'll mention the best part about this guitar first.

The best part is that the Surfliner is very easy to operate. Master volume, master tone, three pickup off/on switches that offer up 7 different pickup combinations, and no vibrato. There's nothing about the Surfliner that's difficult to use, which is great.

The second best part is that the guitar is easy to set up. Install your guitar strings of choice, set the bridge height, adjust the truss rod and that's all you need to do.

The third best part is that even though this is HSS, the balance between the pickups is great because Guild smartly put some higher output single-coils for the middle and neck positions. What this means is that the humbucker at the rear position does not overpower the other two singles. All pickups have a lot of treble response, so the name of the guitar is not just a title as it can totally get the surf rock tone.

So what's odd about the guitar?

Two things.

First are the three rocker switches for selecting the pickups. Stylistically, they look cool. Realistically, they should have been mini-toggles because generally speaking, guitar players don't like flat/wide switches. True, you can operate them easily with a single finger, but it's much more satisfying to use mini-toggles over rockers.

Second, it's a 23-fret neck. That's not a typo. The only guitar I can accept with an odd number of frets is a 21-fret Stratocaster. For everything else, it has to be 22 or 24. Guild instead went for 23. Does anybody have a use for a high D# in standard tuning?

Is the 23-fret neck a deal-breaker? No, because hardly anybody plays up that high on the neck. It's just an odd decision (literally) to go with 23 frets.

What bugs me about the 23-fret neck is that it serves no practical advantage to the player. The 23 frets are there just for Guild to say, "Hey look, we have a solid-body with 23 frets. Pretty crazy, eh?" They should have just went with 22.

Again, not a deal-breaker. Just an odd decision. No other solid-body in Guild's lineup is like this. The Polara, T-Bird, Aristocrat HH, Jetstar and even the Bluesbird all have 22 frets. Surfliner just had to be different with 23.

Some may look at the Surfliner and think, "So this is Guild's version of a Stratocaster?" Believe me, this is not a Strat. Far from it. The body has the offset lean, and the HSS sounds absolutely nothing (in a good way) like any HSS Fender is making. Also note that the controls are kept at a reasonable distance away from the pickups (unlike a Strat where the volume is directly below the rear pickup).

In other words, you would absolutely not be getting "just another Strat" with the Surfliner. You get something truly different and genuinely interesting that's not copying anything else.

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