Price paid: $ 1800
Purchased from: The Music Center
Features: The CO-2 is an old solid wood, orchestra styled guitar from Guild. It features solid red spruce for the top, and solid mahogany for the back, sides, and neck; the neck, it should be noted, is a bolt-on style with 21 frets on a 25.5" scale. This model guitar comes in both a natural finish, as well as an Ice Tea Burst finish.
Some of the finer features of this guitar are its bone nut and saddle, bound ebony fretboard, and Gotoh 700 series machine heads. While the Gotoh machines were a bit tight out of the factory, a simple adjustment at home fixed up the problem.
It comes with no electronics, this being the only thing it seems to be missing. Each of these features plays a vital role in the overall performance of the guitar. Although, as a nice bonus, this guitar can usually be found with a very nice hardshell case factored into the price. // 8
Sound: The CO-2's sound can be summed up in just a few short words: balanced, clean, and strong.
Despite the smaller body style of this guitar, it still has a very large voice. Even when compared to guitars of larger body styles, in the same price range in some cases, it still manages to hold its own. Unlike many guitars of the same size and body style, the CO-2 does not exhibit a shallow sound. It is very full, and very robust.
While the added volume is a pleasant feature to have, it is the clarity and balance of this guitar that make is stand apart from other models. Every note sings. The treble is not too tinny or bright, and the bass is not too muddy or overpowering. Whereas some guitars seem to favor one over the other, the CO-2 does a wonderful job of keeping things balanced and clean.
I have taken this guitar through trials of blues, jazz, rock, alternative, folk, and even some degree of metal-like playing. In all cases, whether it be strumming chords or fingerpicking single notes, the guitar does not lose any of its voice and balance. As well, the intonation has always seemed good, right out of the case from the factory. // 10
Action, Fit & Finish: Right out of the box, the guitar seemed like it was in perfect order for playing. The action may be a bit lower than what the average person prefers, but I have always opted for a lower action due to my play style. Aside from the tightness of some of the machine heads, there didn't seem to be a problem with the guitar from the factory.
The finish was in good order, no scratches anywhere on the body. The only thing that was off-putting, at least for some people it might be, was an imprint on the back of the headstock that read USED. Despite being directly from the factory, I assume this model was labeled as used to sell cheap as they seem to have discontinued this model of guitar. // 7
Reliability & Durability: From what I can tell, the guitar can withstand a great deal of abuse. It has been taken to a few live shows in both cafes and bars, being played by various people who weren't exactly careful with it. Despite that the finish has a few knicks and blemishes on it due to being knocked against things, or the pick constantly hitting beneath the sound hole, it still sounds as good as the day it was made. This does, however, lead me to believe that the finish on this guitar may be very soft compared to other finishes. But if you don't mind aesthetics, the guitar should still be fine.
Both the strap buttons and the machine heads seem to be sturdy. There has never been a fear of the strap buttons coming undone, or letting the strap slip, while playing live. As the tuners are Gotoh, a personal favorite of mine, they certainly seem more than able to survive for a good number of years; provided they aren't abused unnaturally of course. // 8
Overall Impression: While I don't believe that the Guild CO-2 is the right guitar for everybody, I think most people who play it would have very little bad to say about it. I have only played the model I own, as well as the model of an old gigging buddy. Both of them played well, with only a few differences in set-up, based on our personal taste and style.
I played this guitar against a few Martins and Taylors, and still found this one to be the best fit for me. While they all had a different, overall, sound to them, this one just fit me best.
I encourage anyone who is shopping for a higher end guitar to give this model a shot, if the opportunity presents itself. If anything, it should give you a good marker to set for other guitars with a similar body style in the same price range. // 9