DeArmond and Guild Ashbory Basses: A Comparison

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Blue Ashbory from DeArmond and Guild
The DeArmond and Fender Ashbory Basses are modeled after the old Guild model. There are some changes, including improvements. Here's a comparison chart:

Guild Ashbory (1986-1988)
DeArmond & Fender Ashbory (1999-present)
Body/Neck One-Piece Poplar
One-Piece Agathis
Tuning Machine
Adapted Schaller friction peg ukelele tuners
4 geared in-line reverse
Ashworth Piezo
Ashworth Piezo (improved)
Volume, Bass, Treble, Active on/off toggle
Volume, Active Bass and Active Treble
Active on status light
Red LED (smaller)
Bridge cover
No (but the bridge is designed to accommodate one a different size than the Guild one)
Plastic with printed lines
Plastic with printed lines
Hardware Finish
List Price
$50 gig bag (sold separately)
$499.99 (gig bag included)
Manufacturing Location
Westerly, Rhode Island

 Headstock and Tuners
  • Tuners: The biggest difference between the Guild and DeArmond models is the tuners. The old Guild model used friction tuners based from Schaller banjo tuners. They are bent easily, have been known to break, and are a hassle to use. The bright side is that they do work, and can keep tune when you have them locked in. The open geared DeArmond ones are a treat. They work like tuners should.
  • Headstock Size: The headstock is considerably larger on the DeArmond. This puts the tuners further apart, and combined with the outward placement of the tuning keys, there is much more space between each key which is greatly appreciated.
  • Headstock profile: The headstock face is set back much further on the Guild than the DeArmond, which gives the Guild more downpressure at the nut.
  • Headstock heel: The heal on the heastocks are shaped differently, with a longer, sleeker heel on the DeArmond.
  • Serial Number: The DeArmond serial number is printed along with "DeArmond" and "Crafted in Korea". There is also a CE sticker on the headstock. The Guild has the serial number and "MADE IN U.S.A." indented into the wood.
 Ashbory serial numbers    Ashbory headstock    Ashbory headstock tuners
 Nut, Strings, and Neck
  • Nut: They are different, the Guild is shiny and rounded, the DeArmond is a piece of plastic. Don't know what the Guild one is made of but the material seems better. The Guild one is tighter, possibly too tight. 
  • Strings: The Guild has a 1998-era reissue set of Guild formulation strings, matching an NOS set. They are blue-grey in tint, aren't as soft or sticky, sound better and play better. The biggest advantage of the Guild is probably the strings, which are no longer available.
  • Fingerboard: Both have printed fingerboards. The print isn't the same, the Guild has a doublebound look while the DeArmond looks singlebound. The dots are different sizes as well. The ends drop off more abruptly on the DeArmond than the Guild.
  • Necks: Both feel about the same.
Ashbory fretboard
 Body, Bridge, and Electronics
  • Body shape: They body shapes are very similar. The most noticable difference in sillouette is that the Guild has a sharper bottom point and the DeArmond has a sharper top point.
  • Knobs: The Guild knobs have silver caps and a dot on the outside rim for level indication. The DeArmond knobs have odd numbers around the rim for level indication. The pots on the Guild are normal operation, but the Bass and Treble knobs on the DeArmond have a notched area at 5.
  • Active/Passive toggle:The Guild has one and the DeArmond does not. The toggle is a nice feature, though the passive mode is of little interest to most compared to the active mode, it offers more flexability, not to mention it alows one to bypass a weak battery during a gig if necessary.
  • Straplocks: Both have metal straplocks, black ones on the DeArmond and Nickel ones on the DeArmond. The DeArmond ones actually look a bit beefier, but the Guild ones are more than sufficient. Both share about the same locations.
  • Active status LED: Both have active status LED lights. Both are red, but the DeArmond one is smaller.
  • Pickup/Bridge: The bridges are of different shapes, but are about the same size. The Guild has 3 mounting screws in a line, whereas the screws for the DeArmond form a triangle, since the middle screw is on an added peak in front of the saddle. Both have Ashworth transducers, but the DeArmond is newer and should outperform an original Guild (the Guild pictured had the pickup rebuilt in 1996). 
  • Bridge Cover: No bridge cover for the DeArmond, though there are attachment points on the sides of the pickup to support one. The Guild has a pickup cover (see image at the top of this page) but due to a difference in attachment poinrt spacing, it will not fit on the DeArmond Pickup.
  • Input jack: They look similar from the outside. Both have a Nickel finish, and the DeArmond has a larger washer at the body.
  • Neck heel: Very similar between both models.
  • Rear Plate: Both are about the same shape, the DeArmond one is more deluxe and thicker in appearence. Both use black screws for retention, the guild ones have flat heads while the DeArmond ones are larger with domed heads.
Ashbory controls     Ashbory body back
 Other Stuff
  • Paint hue: The blue paints are certainly not the same, the Guild has a very simple blue, while the DeArmond blue has a tiny amount of flake, and is a darker shade with a hint of purple.
  • Paint smoothness: To my surprise, the Korean DeArmond finish is much smoother than the USA made Guild. Look at the reflections in the headstock fronts and body fronts pictures for an idea of the difference. 
  • Playability: Both play about the same. The biggest difference is the strings.
In a nutshell: The DeArmond is an improved version of the classic Guild model. Though Korean made, it plays well and has a smoother finish than USA made Guild. The new geared tuners are a dramatic improvement over the friction pegs used by the Guild. Though the Guild has superior strings (that would work on a DeArmond) and has a nice active/passive toggle, the tuners alone make the DeArmond the superior instrument.