This is my Guild Surfliner review.
Guild recently added a new guitar to its Newark St. Collection: the Surfliner. This retro styled guitar with bolt-on neck is an entirely new creation. It is an affordable, lightweight guitar with good retro sounds. Time for a closer look!
Guild Surfliner Review
- Price indication: $ 450
- Body: Poplar
- Neck: Maple, bolt-on, 648 mm (25.5″)
- Fretboard: Maple
- Pickups: 1x Guild LB-1 Mini Humbucker (bridge) and 2x Dearmond Aerosonic Single Coils (middle and neck)
- Controls: 1 x Volume and 1 x tone control, Electronic on/off rocker switch for each pickup
- Hardware: Tune-o-matic bridge with string guide through the body
- Other: Nut width: 42.80 mm
- Attractive, affordable price. The Guild Surfliner is a lot cheaper than the Jetstar, the previous entry-level model in the Newark St. series. It also costs only half as much as the long-running S-100 Polara.
- Nice ’60s and ’70s design.
- Good retro sounds.
- The strings could have been polished a bit better, the pressing is a bit stiff here and there and the strings are quite high in the composite nut.
- No tremolo bar.
- The on-off switches are a bit cumbersome to use.
Body and Neck
Guild Surfliner Review
The guitar’s subtly assymetric body has two horns and a bevel for greater playing comfort. The body consists of four parts of poplar, which is clearly visible through the translucent, glossy blue finish. In addition to Catalina Blue, the guitar is available in Sunset Orange and White Sage.
Like the Jetstar, the Surfliner has a long scale of 25.5 inches (648 mm). In Guild’s current lineup, it is the only guitar with a bolt-on neck. The fretboard accommodates 23 frets, an unusual number. The frets are “narrow jumbo” according to Guild, but in practice they are not that narrow and high (2.7 by 1.1 mm). The maple headstock is on the large side.
Guild Surfliner Review
The strings run through the body of the guitar, via a tune-o-matic bridge. The guitar features a narrow LB-1 humbucker at the bridge and two newly designed DeArmond Aerosonic single-coils. A retro feature are the three individual on/off switches (one per pickup). A total of seven combinations are possible: the five modes you also get with a Strat’s selector switch, a bridge-neck combination, and a mode with all pickups simultaneously.
Guild Surfiner Review
The playability of the Guild Surfliner is fine. A set of 0.011 strings is included as standard, which might be a bit too thick for some guitarists. The top frets are easily accessible due to the position of the heel and position cavity.
The 10-inch (254 mm) radius is the same as PRS and slightly flatter than that of modern Fenders. The ‘C’ half profile feels full in the hand.
In practice, the three-button on/off system does not work as quickly an easily as the familiar five-position switch. To get from the neck-mid combination to just the bridge humcker, you now have to turn off the singlecoils and then turn on the bridge element. A big disadvantage is that during a live session, you might well accidentally turn the guitar off completely. A five-position switch with a push-pull on the tone control would have been better.
The guitar sounds like a Fender. The LB-1 humbucker gives a light, bright sound and combines well with the single-coils. The distortion sounds nice and raw and also clean sounds fine. The Aerosonic singlecoils sound a bit sharper by themselves and do not have much low end. They are very suitable for authentic retro sounds.
Guild Surfliner – Alternatives
Yamaha Revstar RSS20
The Yamaha Revstar II boasts a chambered body and carbon-reinforced neck that were created utilizing Yamaha’s unique Acoustic Design technique to improve tone, reduce weight, and assure optimal balance without sacrificing resonance. A two-pickup guitar featuring Alnico V humbucking pickups, a 5-position pickup selector, and a passive push/pull Focus Switch offers unheard-of versatility. A premium gig bag is provided.
- Read my review of the Revstar RSS20.
Fender Player Plus Meteora
The Player Plus Meteora combines cutting-edge Fender design with player-centric features and eye-catching finishes to produce an instrument with excellent playability and recognizable character.
Strong Fireball humbucking pickups combine excellent string-to-string tone clarity with just the right amount of amplification. The coil-split is activated via an S-1 switch, producing single-coil tones with exceptional clarity. The modern “C” neck made of silky satin fits your hand like a glove and has smooth, rolled edges for maximum comfort. Fluid leads and choke-free bends are made possible by the fingerboard’s 12″ radius and 22 medium jumbo frets. The locking tuners offer rock-solid tuning and quick and simple string changes, while the 2-point tremolo gives a smooth and responsive vibrato effect.
- Read my review of the Fender Meteora.
Squier 40th Anniversary Jazzmaster Gold Edition
The Squier’s 40th Anniversary Jazzmaster, Gold Edition is a chic model with a striking assortment of high-end features. This Jazzmaster is ready for the spotlight with to its eye-catching gold-plated hardware, gold anodized aluminum pickguard, bound Indian laurel fingerboard with pearloid block inlays, engraved jubilee neck plate, and gloss finish all around. A sleek and ergonomic “C”-shaped neck profile, vintage-style tuning machinery, a 6-saddle floating bridge, a tremolo, and Fender-designed single-coil pickups with alnico 5 magnets for the recognizable Jazzmaster tone are just a few of the player-friendly features of this commemorative edition.
Verdict – Guild Surfliner
With the Surfliner, Guild appeals to a wide audience. The Surfliner has a bold design and guarantees good retro sounds as you know them from Fender. The three on/off buttons for the individual elements are not such a good idea. But all in all, it is an affordable, light and stable instrument with a nice sound.