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Guild Starfire II

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by glocke1, Nov 27, 2018.

  1. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002
    I've played a couple of these now that were in some Sam Ash Stores.

    Both played surprisingly well for an off the shelf instrument.

    While an original/vintage would be nice, Im out of the vintage game (don't want to deal with potential issues and price is a factor as well), I was impressed by these and could probably overlook the fact that it's made overseas.

    Any known issues? Reverb has many that are price below 1k that were factory refurbs it looks like. Any reason to not get one of these?

    Also was wondering about the nut..looks nylon/plastic? I'm guessing it's easily replaced with brass or bone?
  2. PkFloydLvr


    Nov 27, 2018
    Central Ohio
    This is my first post to TB, and your note hits home with me.

    I have an opportunity for a 1970 Gibson EB-2D (8.5/10 condition) for $1200 more than a new Starfire II. I love vintage instruments (once bought a 1969 EB-2D new - my youth is calling me!), yet your comments of potential future issues and higher prices are the same as mine.

    While I haven't played the Starfire II, reviews on quality are generally positive. I am looking forward to hearing what others have to offer.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
  3. Axstar


    Jul 8, 2016
    East of Eden.
    This is my Starfire:


    I cheaped out and bought a '90s Dearmond Starfire II. I rebuilt the wiring, fitted Guild BS-1 pickups and made a tort trussrod cover for it, because every bass needs some tort.

    The pickups are great, and these are the same pickups that Guild are using. They have a broad tone, and are very even across the strings and up and down the neck. You can get booming lows or sharp, trebly highs out of them. They record nicely and fit into a conventional/retro rock mix very nicely. I love this bass!
  4. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    As my avatar (those are both MIK "Newark Street re-issues) might lead you to suppose, I love them.

    Some people complain that the unusual "harp" bridge with the rosewood saddles is hard to intone, but I have not found this to be so. Axstar's DeArmond (above), and the MIA, 1990s-early 2000s Starfire re-issues have the more conventional, barrel bridge saddles with more room for intonation adjustment.

    I find the necks to be very comfortable. The different scale length aside, if you are most comfortable on a P-Bass, you may find the nut and string spacing to be a bit narrow. If a Jazz bass is your comfort zone, then it will feel more like home, though the spacing will be narrower in the upper frets (towards the pups/bridge). The current production runs of MIKs are just slightly wider at the nut (1.6875") than either the earliest MIKs or the 1990s-early 2000s MIAs (1.50"). I believe that the DeArmond Starfire necks are also a hair wider at the nut, but Axstar can probably verify or debunk that notion since he has one.

    I have also played 1990s-vintage, MIA Starfires with the "Guild-Bucker" pups in place of the Bi-Sonics. Some disparage them (the pups). I found them to be not as powerful as the Bi-Sonics and different, though not strikingly inferior: I actually like some of the tones they produce. In any case, they are not as "muddy"-sounding as Gibson bass humbuckers, IMO.

    The '90s, MIA re-issues I've played also had less deep bodies (1-5/8" vs. the 1-3/4" of the MIKs), which means that the 1990s, hardshell cases are not interchangeable with those made to fit the MIKs. The 1990s cases are easy to spot because they are not quite as deep and have 7 latches instead of 5. The 1990s MIA Starfires also have thicker, more numerous-ply tops and are finished with nitro rather than the poly of the current-production MIKs. The MIA re-issues can still be had for not overly excessive (IMO) prices. The 1960s-1970s Starfires are the ones that really start "getting up there" price-wise. All depends on what you want and how much you got/want to spend.

    The "factory second" MIKs I've seen online appear to have mostly cosmetic flaws, usually finish blems along the fretboard edges. I imagine they sound fine, but haven't played any so can't give a definitive answer based on personal experience.

  5. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia

    Here’s my ‘71 with its ‘78 buddy. It was missing the pickup covers when I bought it, but it sounds marvelously woody and thumpy.
  6. ahc


    Jul 31, 2009
    No. Virginia
    I recently received a Newark St. SF II that I found here on TB for a very good price. I'm liking it a lot. No issues at all other than me adjusting to the 30.5" scale (but that's a personal problem :D). I always wanted an original SF II since I first saw/heard one in the 60's but I wasn't gonna spring for one at the vintage price. Based on my experience so far I say go for it!
    rllefebv and Mustang Surly like this.
  7. Katthestar


    Aug 4, 2017
    I recommend the 90’s reissues. I think if you look around, you can get one for a good price. There’s one I looked at last year that I almost bought, and it’s still for sale. If you get a 90’s reissue without a case, the Epiphone Jack Casady case fits just fine. My 90’s reissue is all mahogany, and it’s both deep and loud.
    rllefebv likes this.
  8. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    I'll presume to speak foe all of us, Katthestar: we demand a PIC!
  9. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    BTW: the MIA re-issue I've played had a maple body.
    rllefebv likes this.
  10. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    Question for you, Axstar,

    Did the Bi-Sonic transplant into your DeArmond require you to open up the pup cavities in the top at all, or was it just a matter of drilling extra holes for the pup frame mounting holes?

    Surprised you didn't ad a master volume pot. That's a feature I really like on the Guild SF-II.
  11. Hawaii Islander

    Hawaii Islander Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2007
    Rio Rico, AZ
    I own one and love it. IMG_0341.JPG
  12. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Had a Starfire in the late '60s and early '70s. It was a single pickup sunburst—sold long ago. I missed it a lot. When the Chris Hillman sig. model came out, I got one, and am happy with it. If you have played one of the Starfire II basses and like it, I say go for it.

    The nut on "The Byrds" bass is bone, according to Guild. Chris Hillman Signature Byrds Bass – Guild Guitars

    photo-6.JPG photo-10.JPG
  13. Katthestar


    Aug 4, 2017
    Here are some pictures of mine. It’s a 1997 Starfire II, with the original pickups replaced by DarkStars. I paid $2,000 for it last year, but I find it's worth it.

    Attached Files:

  14. blacktocomm


    Feb 19, 2013
    IMG_2180.JPG Not a Starfire ll, but this is my Chris Hillman signature Starfire l. It's an exceptional bass in every way. Fit and finish are top notch, sounds incredible and plays great. One of the most comfortable necks I've ever played. I would definitely recommend one.
  15. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    BTW: the close-up of Katthestar's Starfire (PIC #3) provides a good view of the "barrel-style" harp bridge found on the MIA re-issues and DeArmonds (as opposed to the ones on the MIK Guilds, which uses rosewood saddles and a different type of adjusting mechanism).
  16. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    The bridge on jmlee's B-302 is yet a third type bridge used by Guild on some of the solid body basses in the past. I've heard it referred to as a "Muller" bridge:


    These seem to show up on the "B"-type solid bodies like jimlee's as well as sporadically on Jet Stars (the "SG-looking" ones).
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
    Zigmundfloyd likes this.
  17. Katthestar


    Aug 4, 2017
    The Muller bridge also shows up on my favorite Guild bass, the X-702, it’s also on the X-701

    Attached Files:

  18. Hawaii Islander

    Hawaii Islander Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2007
    Rio Rico, AZ
    Nice looking burst.
    Jim Carr likes this.
  19. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    "I have an opportunity for a 1970 Gibson EB-2D (8.5/10 condition) for $1200 more than a new Starfire II. I love vintage instruments (once bought a 1969 EB-2D new - my youth is calling me!), yet your comments of potential future issues and higher prices are the same as mine."


    I haven't a lot of experience with Gibson EBs but here's my impression/2¢, in contrast to the Starfire:

    •the neck may not be as slim

    •the pups will not offer as articulate tones, especially if the Guild in question is loaded with Bi-Sonic pups. Gibson bass humbuckers are often referred to as "mud-buckers" and not without reason. Whether you like that sound or not is a personal preference. In my opinion, the EB/Rivoli is more of a "one-trick pony" tone-wise, especially the single-pup ones.

    •Gibson 2-point and 3-point bass bridges can have issues (mounting studs coming loose, intonation difficulties, action-setting limitations). There are replacement options (Hipshot, Babicz, to name a couple) but altering a vintage instrument can reduce its resale value, sometimes drastically.

    •the Gibson EB and Epiphone Rivoli body outline is slightly different from that of the Guild Starfire (except for the very limited edition ones designated "GSR" Starfires): mostly blunter "horns/ears" on the Gibson/Epi. I prefer the look of the Guild. Your tastes may differ.
    Stugilliam likes this.
  20. Katthestar


    Aug 4, 2017
    My luthier told me that the Gibson EB basses tend to have neck issues. I know that happens to older Guilds as well. Almost all of my basses are Guilds, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

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