NAMM 2024: “From classic 1970s to contemporary modern”: Following the success of its Kim Thayil signature model, Guild’s expanded range hopes to find a Polara for every player

Guild Polara range
(Image credit: Guild)

NAMM 2024: Guild’s S-100 Polara Kim Thayil arrived last fall and represented the culmination of years of work between the Soundgarden guitarist and the US brand.

Now, having got the project over the line – and done so in some style – the firm is making the most of the momentum, announcing a sizeable roll-out of Polara electric guitars at a variety of different prices/specs. 

“This updated range will appeal to a wide variety of players featuring design elements that span from classic 1970s to contemporary modern,” says Guild and, judging on the early evidence, it seems to have delivered on that promise.

As such, the US-built S-100 Polara Kim Thayil Artist Edition now sits atop of a Polara pile (complete with handwound Jason Lollar pickups and a $5,999 price tag), while the new additions – including the Polara Deluxe, Night Edition and standard – will fall under Guild’s offshore Newark St. Collection umbrella. 

Polara Kim Thayil Vintage White

Polara Kim Thayil – now available in Vintage White (Image credit: Guild)

That’s the sub-brand that plays home to Thayil’s more affordable signature guitar the Polara Kim Thayil ($899 street), which is incidentally, set to get a new Vintage White colorway option for 2024.

As you might expect, the specs vary across the ranges, but the base model sets the template – featuring a set-neck mahogany build with a U-shape neck, rosewood fingerboard and a Gibson-like 24 ¾” scale-length. 

Then there’s a pair of hot-wound (uncovered) HB-2+ humbuckers with Alnico V magnets and a straightforward control setup of master volume, master tone and three-way pickup selector. 

On the hardware front, there’s a resonant string-through-body bridge, Guild’s stopbar and Rotomatic-style tuners.

All in, it’s a feature set that offers a nice blend of classic and modern and is particularly appealing, given it comes in at a street price of $549. 

The finishes are a great touch, too: offering a choice of Blue Steel, Phantom Green and Voltage Yellow – the latter certainly caught the eye of our roving Editor in Chief (over on the NAMM live blog), who dubbed it “a real retina-searer”.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the Polara Night Edition. A murdered-out all-black, single-pickup model, that looks like a total beast and is utterly committed to its dark theme.

Indeed, it’s so dark that we suspect it might be a black hole – and even on the press images, we struggled to make out the fact it was a single-humbucker spec. 

Guild’s site says it has master volume and tone controls, but that seems to be an error, as it appears to have only a single volume knob. 

That said, there is always the possibility that the tone knob was placed there originally, but has since been lost to its irresistible gravitational pull.

The Night Edition will also retail for $549.

Finally, the top of the new lines is the Polara Deluxe, which comes in at $699 street price, and ups the ornamentation with a bound rosewood fretboard and block inlays, alongside inlay details on the headstock.

There are functional upgrades, too – the Deluxe adds independent tone and volume knobs, plus coil-splitting capabilities to the control set and there’s a Tune-O-Matic bridge, plus Guild Vintage 18 open gear tuners. 

The finishes look superb, to boot, with the option of the Metallic Canyon Dusk, classic Cherry Red, or our favorite, Vintage Sunburst.

It seems that after a long time out there on the periphery of Guild’s output, Thayil’s beloved S-100/Polara is now in good company. 

For more information on all of the new Polaras, head to Guild.

Keep up to speed with all gear releases during NAMM 2024 via our guide to the latest NAMM 2024 news.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.