NAMM 2024: It is a widely held belief among many guitar players that the Guild Polara – most famously played by the great Kim Thayil of Soundgarden fame – is one of the most underrated electric guitars of all time, a cult classic that is just waiting for its breakout moment.
But maybe today its time has come, with Guild refreshing the model with eight new models options, including a new Vintage White version of Thayil’s signature guitar, and a “blacked out” Night Edition, with this stripped-down single-pickup version of the classic double-cut wearing an über-noir Tungsten finish that is certainly more contemporary metal than we’d rightfully expect from the brand.
Guild is offering these new-look Polaras across three different series, with the Deluxe models resplendent in classic Cherry Red and Vintage Sunburst finishes, a classy muted Canyon Dusk metallic model rounding out the trio. These are the more upscale models in this 2024 release, and feature bound rosewood fingerboards, and pearloid block fingerboard inlays where the entry-level models have dots.
The Polara Deluxe has a tune-o-matic bridge and compensated stopbar tailpiece. They look they part and yet none will break the bank. Guild has listed the Polara Deluxe for a very approachable $699 street, while the Night and Standard edition models are priced $549.
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The new Standard Polara (well, it’s not officially called the Standard; Guild calls it “base level”) is offered in Blue Steel, Phantom Green, and Voltage Yellow, which Guild describes is ‘80s-esque but on our screen looks more taxi cab yellow.
These guitars are all mahogany and have a 24.75” scale length, as per the classic recipe. The have a vintage soft U profile necks, a 12.5” fingerboard radius, and are equipped with Guild HB-2 humbuckers.
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The Deluxes have the dual volume, dual tone control setup. The Standard models have volume and tone, and more scaled down hardware, where we have the tune-o-matic bridge but no tailpiece; it’s a string-through-body job.
All of these look very cool but the belle of the ball has to the new Kim Thayil signature model. It seems astonishing now to think of how long it took to get him a signature Guild. After all, he had only been playing them for 45 years. But whenever Guild had planned to release one the company changed ownership and the project was put on the backburner.
In September 2023, it finally happened, with Guild releasing two Kim Thayil signature Polaras. One was masterbuilt Guild USA Artist Edition S-100 Polara, which had body of old-growth Honduran Mahogany and pickups hand-wound by Jason Lollar, and was finished in White.
Thayil also had a more affordable Newark St Collection signature model, too, finished in black with gold hardware. Like the new Vintage White model, this retails at $899 and is a lot of guitar for the money.
Signature details include the King Animal truss rod cover and Badmotorfinger control plate on the back of the guitar, and you have the HB-1 humbuckers as standard. For more details, see Guild Guitars.