That One Guitar - Dan Williams

Name: Dan Williams

City: Downtown Atlanta, GA

Instrument:  1976 Guild D-50

My family’s American heritage starts and still largely resides in the southwestern portion of Virginia, same county where Ralph Stanley is from. I fooled around with a lot of styles and music interests before I came around to my roots and started playing bluegrass and Americana stuff in my early 20’s.

Not long after, around the time I had my first “real job” I was doing a good bit of picking with a guy in Rome, GA that ran a nice home studio with several nice vintage instruments. He owned the guitar at the time after having bought it at the venerable Gruhn Guitars in Nashville. Once I started playing it, he could tell faster than I could that it was the guitar I was meant to own, though he hadn’t intended to sell it. He let me buy it off of him in payments over the course of year — which was probably the only way I’d have gotten my hands on such a nice guitar at that stage in my life.

I tend to play in a way that’s pretty percussive, which I think sort of goes back to listening to a lot of Richie Havens when I was first teaching myself to play as a kid. Havens, as it happens, was a big fan of Guilds. So as bluegrass-type players go, I’m short on finesse and long on beating the hell out of a guitar, basically; hence the steady buildup of blood over the bridge.

The 70’s era guild dreadnoughts respond with a big low end and a loud, rich sound. They are also built like absolute tanks, which is great for me as one that would probably ruined a more delicate guitar of its caliber years ago. Guild is owned by fender now, and a few years ago reissued the D-50s for about three times what you can get a good vintage one for.

If anything ever happened to it, I’d be out looking for another 70’s era D-series just like it the next day. At this point I’d feel pretty lost in life without one of these to bang on.

Band name: Sweet Auburn String Band