Guild M-20 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar , c. 1968

Guild  M-20 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar ,  c. 1968

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Item # 8203
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Guild M-20 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar, c. 1968, made in Hoboken, NJ, serial # AH-2343, natural mahogany finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, black chipboard case.

Good examples of the often very fine sounding Guild flat-tops of the 1960s can be surprisingly hard to find these days. The M-20 was Guild's least expensive guitar in the 1950s and '60s, and while not a rare model per se has become one of the company's most sought-after vintage instruments in recent years. The highly influential English singer/songwriter Nick Drake is thought to have played the M-20 extensively, and so the model is linked in the popular imagination to his legend.

Even apart from this connection, the instrument itself has much to recommend it. A small-body all-mahogany guitar with an X-braced top, the M-20 has a different tonal character from any other Guild and excels particularly as a fingerpicking instrument. The neck is slim and comfortable, somewhat in between typical Martin and Gibson spec, and the M-20 is arguably a better guitar of this type than either company was producing in the late 1960s.

This M-20 is likely one of the earlier guitars built at Guild's new-in-1967 Rhode Island factory, despite the label reading Hoboken. The serial numbers of the M-20 series are for some reason missing from Guild's records, but by extrapolating comparables, this guitar most likely dates to 1968. It has small differences from earlier models but is still quite lightly built compared to Guild's 1970s offerings. With no binding and only the plainest inlay, the M-20 has a very austere look but a smooth, expansive sound for an all-mahogany guitar. The headstock is faced with the typical Guild plastic overlay, with just a bit of the usual shrinkage -- many late '60s M-20s have a plain decal-over wood logo. This M-20 has some wear overall but is a lovely little guitar with a very responsive sound, an instrument we receive many requests for.
 
Overall length is 39 1/4 in. (99.7 cm.), 13 7/8 in. (35.2 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 1/2 in. (622 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This guitar shows moderate wear overall, and some repairs through the years. The finish has dings, dents, and scuffs with some heavier wear to the edges, particularly on the lower bottom edge of the back where a bit of wood is actually worn away. The face is fairly clean, with some finish worn away from picking on the sound hole edge and just below the pickguard. The bridge has been cut down somewhat but does not appear to have ever lifted from the top. There is a long, sealed top crack running from the sound hole above the low E string, well-repaired. Apart from that, the guitar appears crack-free.

The tuners are newer repro Kluson strips with plastic buttons and there is an old strap button added to the heel. The serial number has been gouged out of the back of the headstock, but the genius who perpetrated that forgot to also remove it from the label, which is completely intact. The plastic headstock veneer shows some typical shrinkage but is not lifting at the edges. There is a spot on the face of it where it looks like something was once glued and removed, and the truss rod cover has "BILL" scratched in in small letters; you have to look closely to notice this. Overall a very good playing and sounding M-20. A nice gigging example of this rather sought-after Guild. Very Good + Condition.