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les paul vs. guild bluesbird


New member
Dec 23, 2018
I'd love to hear from someone who owns one. I, too, am curious as hell. The other day I was in a big music store in NYC and was shopping for an LP. The one Bluesbird was up in the corner all lonely. I tried it and even if the neck was skosh larger than I prefer, it was very comfortable and I LIKED it, and I kept coming back to it, and I plugged it into a Marshall and it was intense.

I remember playing one off the rack when they were first in production

Always a lot of speculation about the Guild Bluesbird and comparisons to the Les Paul. Many are inaccurate. First, is to compare the actual models most are interested in: “production” Les Paul that is common today (as opposed the Paul’s original design) and the Guild “Westerly” product build in the Guild factory in Rhode Island in the late90s.

Most important, Guild never made a copy of anything Gibson. Guild was formed when Gibson purchased Epiphone and moved production. There are no Les Paul qualities in a Bluebird other than some similarity of look and they are both “fine musical instruments.” And let’s face it, they both use the basic hour-glass guitar shape used for 100s of years. The Bluesbird came from a radical Guild design called the Black Bird, and an evolution of the Guild Aristocrat. Guild was primarily an acoustic and hollow body electricbuilder.

The Bluesbird is a semi-hollow design (chambered). It has small frets and a narrow neck. Most used the Seymore Duncan 59 pickup. BB tend to have a “tinny” sound and are not as easy to play as a Les Paul. However, where it stands out against the Les Paul is in definition and clarity with use of high distortion. If you have played the 335 in “Revolution mode,” you will see similar results. BB is an excellent choice for R&B style rock and roll, rock-a-billy, punk, new wave. I even love it for some drop-D metal. So, its not what you think. Its name and its look give to a “refined” man’s instrument. Its more of a meat grinder in its best use. As for the Gibson Les Paul, you already know it has arguably the best depth of sound and midrange in a production guitar. If I were going to play actual “Blues,” I would choose the Les Paul over the Bluesbird all day long. The Gibson, played clean, has unmatched clarity and precision in its sound. If a Guild Bluebird sounds like anything, it would be an early period Telecaster, IMO.

So, here is the takeaway. The Blues Bird is nothing like a Les Paul. End of story.
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New member
Jan 27, 2016
I have a 2000 AAA Bluesbird (sunburst finish) as well as an R7 and a Leo 59, so maybe I can offer some comments. I personally think the Bluesbird is an excellent guitar, but it's not just a LP copy.

The necks seem to vary on these things. I've played some that were fairly thin, but mine is nice and thick. Extremely playable and appealing if you like thicker necks. The neck binding is nicely done and the frets are dressed slightly lower than my '95 R7 - more like the new R9's I've played.

Tone wise, it lies in between a LP and an ES-335. The neck pickup sound is more articulate than a LP and the bridge is a little lighter sounding. I find it to be more "touch sensitive" than my LP's. You can generate some controlled feedback with it because of the chambers, but it doesn't go out of control as quickly as an ES-335. Like an ES-335, it's better than a Les Paul at clean and mildly overdriven amp settings.

To some up, these are cool guitars, especially for blues players or others that aren't using high gain. I'm glad Guild (Fender) makes them.

I have had an American red one since 1997, I agree with all the above. It a professional level instrument. It sounds like a 335/L.P. They are still a steal. I also have a 96 LP STD LE goldtop it's not the same thing, but they could and have stood in for each other. I find it an esy guitar to play. That's why I bought it.


New member
Aug 9, 2011
Besides having owned several Les Pauls (Deluxe, Standard, Signature T) and several Guild Bluesbirds (1998, 1999), and being a luthier who has worked on many of both, I can clarify that there are some major differences in Les Pauls and Bluesbirds.

Despite the obvious cosmetic differences, they are vastly different in tone quality. If you plug either one in (sans pedals), and you listen, you will hear tremendous difference in tone. The Les Paul is much thicker in mid-range (lower midrange) because of the solid (or even weight-relieved) mahogany body. The Bluesbird is more radically-chambered (hollowed out mahogany) and more scooped in tone. It has far less midrange, some in the upper mids and it has more resonance (that comes from air, not wood). Oh yeah, and that resonances is NOTHING like ES-335 tone. ES-335s are laminated maple, hollow guitars with a solid maple block and are more midrange-thick than Guild Bluesbirds.

Their solid maple tops are similar, the mahogany necks are similar (I'm leaving out the years of Les Paul with maple necks, something which did affect their tone, but not radically). I am speaking about things that affect the tone. Both guitars are quality instruments with good sound and, in the hands of a skilled player, can be used for most styles of music. However, those seeking the deep, midrange-thick sustain of the Les Paul will be disappointed with a Bluesbird. Those seeking a bit more resonance, clarity and "jangling" should consider a Bluesbird. The proof is in the pudding. How many major rock or blues-rock players have made the Bluesbird their main instrument? None. Robben Ford used similar guitars (to a Bluesbird) when he was in the Blue Line, but he was using more processing (pedals) and/or his Dumble amp then. Larry Carlton used a Bluesbird on ONE tune on one of his albums years ago. I worked with Larry Carlton about 12 years ago and asked him why he did not use his Bluesbird more. He said, "That was a sweet guitar, but I could not keep it in tune." As a general rule, major players (guys known for their tone---Clapton, Eric Johnson, etc.) have not played Bluesbirds and certainly they could have. But that is not to say that someone could not use a Bluesbird effectively and get great tone. The only blues artist I ever saw playing a Bluesbird was Buddy Guy. I lived in Chicago back then (early 70s) and saw him numerous times. He almost always played his Guild Starfire (semi-hollow, like an ES-335) and rarely played the Bluesbird. So, it's about TONE and the Bluesbird is a guitar that one would have to love and take the time to develop a tone, perhaps with some processing. There's a guy named Pascal Bluesboy who has a number of good videos playing the Bluesbird. Note that, in most cases, he is using an overdrive pedal for his solos, but he sounds great!

Necks on the older Bluesbirds vary as much (or more) than Les Pauls. The older M-75 model (forerunner of the Bluesbird) and all the Westerly, Rhode Island built Bluesbirds had hand-shaved/rasped necks, and after sanding and finishing, they varied from chunky (50s Les Paul) to rounded ('59 Les Paul) to slim (60's Les Pauls), but importantly there were differences in the widths of the necks. Many of the slimmer necks also were also narrow, not like the wide, slim Les Paul necks.

All the other differences are obvious: the Bluesbirds had less arch in their carved maple tops and, because of this, they did not come with (or really need) pickguards. Bluebirds had that flatter (less Venetian) cutaway, very similar to the Macaferri cutaways that are now associated with Gypsy jazz acoustics.

Obviously there have been many models of Les Paul guitars over the decades, from the simplest Specials and TVs to the low-impedence Recording models. But the the Standard, Custom and Deluxe, are sort of considered THE classic models. They're great guitars.....Gibson got it right with them. Whereas Bluesbird really just came in two models, regardless of whether they were built by Guild, Fender or at the Tacoma plant. Those two models were the Bluesbird (with two humbuckers) and the Nightbird (with P-90s but also had a neck profile associated with Guild's acoustic-electric model: the Songbird).

Both the Les Paul and the Bluesbird are beautiful guitars. The new "Newark Street" Bluesbirds are very nice, though not as pretty as the older ones. The best demo I have seen of someone playing them was by the excellent RJ Ronquillo:
You can hear what I was saying about the tone of the guitar in this video, because he plays it clean on all pickups and he plays overdriven and, as always, with great taste and artistry.

I personally love the styling of the old Bluesbirds. But I am the first to admit that their "plug in and play" tone is not quite the same as a Les Paul.

'Nuf said.......
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