Why the Guild Polara Deluxe offers the best of both worlds for fans of offbeat guitars
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Guild has always had a reputation for offbeat guitars – but there’s perhaps none more so than the S-100 Polara. The guitar offers a different spin on the set-neck double-cut, with a unique sound and playing experience that makes it more than just another 70s rock machine.
For 2024, the Polara has returned in full force. Following on from last year’s signature S-100 Polara for Kim Thayil, three more models join the lineup: the stripped-back Polara base model, the one-pickup Polara Night Edition and the Polara Deluxe.
Out of the three, though, the Polara Deluxe is the one that’ll be most familiar to fans of vintage Guilds. It comes with all the vintage trimmings: there’s a bound rosewood fretboard, a four-control layout, covered humbuckers and vintage-style open-gear tuners. Importantly, there’s also the Guild Compensated Tailpiece. This is screwed right to the body, offering lots of downward tension on the bridge – this means loads of resonance and loads of sustain.
While the Night Edition and base models of the Polara don’t feature the compensated tailpiece, they are string-through, which does a similar job in terms of adding to their sustain and resonance.
A Balanced Design
Although the Polara’s design certainly evokes another set-neck double-cut guitar, it does offer its own playing experience. Importantly, the design of the slightly thicker mahogany body means there’s absolutely no neck dive. So if you like to stay at the cowboy-chord end of things, you won’t be working hard to keep the guitar upright.
The Polara’s body, however, is also slightly offset – if you’re used to Jaguars or Jazzmasters, how the guitar sits on you will be very familiar. And despite the heft of the neck joint, upper-fret access is still basically limitless.
Picking up where it left off
But the main way the Polara sets itself apart are its pickups. The Polara and Polara Deluxe both feature Guild’s new HB-2+ humbuckers, and they’re definitely not what you’d call vintage-voiced – there’s a lot of output, and a good deal of brightness, even on the neck pickup.
On the Polara Deluxe you’ve also got the option to coil-split them. You can get some lovely, chimey cleans from splitting the neck, or use the bridge single coil to evoke Tele-like twang or bridge-P90 grit.
They’re great at poking through layers and layers of effects, too. Even in full humbucking mode, they still evoke a P90-like vocal character – so whether you’re stacking three fuzz pedals in a row, or slathering your sound in reverb and delay trails, the Polara will keep its bite, and you’ll still be heard.
If you want to keep things a bit subtler, or just explore some really dynamic playing, the Polara’s HB-2+ pickups back off with the volume controls wonderfully – never getting too dark or compressed. Combine that with the Polara Deluxe’s coil-splitting and four-control layout, and you can go from a whisper to a roar without even having to toggle any pedals.
Best of both worlds
So the Polara Deluxe is really a best-of-both-worlds guitar. It’s a unique take on the two-pickup set-neck format – and whether you need to just bash out power chords or do something a little more experimental, the flexible pickups and player-friendly ergonomics will let you do whatever you want with it.
It’s balanced between the offbeat character of old-school Guilds, modern flexibility, and the more straightforward aspects of its rock roots.
Find out more about the new Polara range at guildguitars.com.
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