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Avram "Alfred" Dronge—"Al" to many, was born in Warsaw, Poland, on Aug. 16, 1911. His family left Warsaw for Paris in 1914, and left Paris for New York City in 1916. He practically grew up in Manhattan's Park Row music stores, becoming an accomplished banjo player and guitarist along the way. Dronge gave guitar lessons and played professionally in New York clubs and cruise ships, and opened his own successful Park Row music store in the mid-1930s. An astute, hard-working and well-liked businessman, he sold the store in 1948 and amassed a small fortune in the late '40s and early '50s importing and distributing accordions.Guild's genesis was simple. In 1952, Dronge's friend George Mann suggested that the two men start a new guitar company. Another friend of Dronge's, Gene Detgen, suggested the name "Guild." And that was that. Guild was in business, with Mann and Dronge as president vice president, respectively.Guild flourished in the rest of the '50s and in particular throughout the '60s. Although they had started out as a line of mainly jazz guitars, Guild's popularity and solid reputation spread quickly, and over the years its instruments found their way into the hands of high-profile rock, pop, blues and jazz guitar heroes including Johnny Smith, Duane Eddy, Roy Orbison, John Lee Hooker, Merle Travis, Paul Simon, Keith Richards, Dave Davies, George Benson, Buddy Guy, Howlin' Wolf, Richie Havens, Bonnie Raitt, Steve Miller, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Doc Watson, Ry Cooder, George Strait and so many other acclaimed artists.In 1966, the Guild Musical Instruments Corporation was bought by electronics giant Avnet Inc., and, having once again outgrown its factory, was moved to a new plant in Westerly, R.I., where operations remained for almost three decades. Sadly, Dronge perished in May 1972 when the small aircraft he was piloting on the way to the Guild's Westerly, crashed in Connecticut. Even with such a tragic loss, Guild guitars continued on as popular, distinctive and highly regarded instruments.After almost 30 years in Rhode Island, Guild moved west. Operations were moved to sunny Corona, California shortly after Guild was acquired by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation in 1995. This was the beginning of a new chapter in Guild history.Through the '90s and well into the new millennium, a diverse new generation of gifted, spirited players recognized the excellence of a truly fine Guild guitar. From the sultry Jazz and Blues of Cassandra Wilson, to the scorching "hellbilly" pickin' of Hank Williams III, or the solo acoustic magic of Willy Porter; it was a Guild acoustic guitar that became the vehicle for their expression. Recording studios and concert halls everywhere continued to reverberate with the full, pure sound of Guild guitars.
Corona, California
Willy Porter, Cassandra Wilson, George Strait, Hank Williams III, Doc Watson, Guthrie Trapp
Vintage Models D-25, D-35, D-40, D-50, D-55, F-30, F-40, F-50
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