Teenage Dream comes true after 50 years!
In December 1966 my hometown music store in Germany blew my mind with an awesome display of American icons like Fender, Gibson, VOX and Guild electrics. The one guitar that really left a huge impression was a semi-hollow, sunburst Guild Starfire with a single cutaway: I had heard Dave Davies of the Kinks on the radio, and this punchy guitar tone “Really Got Me”.
Fast Forward to 2016 and the reason for writing this review:
At the ripe age of 65, I own several nice guitars, including a fine Gretsch Chet Atkins (from Sweetwater)and seven Teles. Now, I finally own a Starfire III with a cherry red, laminated Mahogany top, sides and body, as well as a very comfortable Mahogany neck plus a Guild-branded Bigsby tremolo bar. The Guild Newark Street line of instruments also features the small peculiar Guild humbuckers, with a tone somewhere between a PAF and a P-90. This special humbucker can evoke ES-335 jazzy tones plus has the fresh dirt of the raunchy bridge pickup. The in-between setting (both pickups active) is a no-compromise combination of both tones.
My Starfire III came set up, tuned and intonated perfectly from Sweetwater, thanks to sales engineer Tom Koch’s immediate attention to my order. Photos arrived the next day as usual, making the short wait more bearable. The Starfire in its protective case was on the road barely a couple of days –not even long enough for the strings to be detuned!
The quality workmanship shows everywhere on this gorgeous guitar, although mine had a tiny clear-coat flaw inside the upper F-hole. I already detected this tiny flaw on the Sweetwater site photos and my sales engineer Tom Koch agreed right away to sell it at a slight discount. The guitar is a truly professional instrument and plays like a dream. It is easy on your shoulder, but is sturdy and still sounds like a bigger instrument despite its thin hollow body. A little controlled feedback always makes my eyes water, but let me stress here that this instrument is not exactly “feedback prone” –you’re always in control and can make feedback happen if it fits your style. Even though this Guild is brand new, it comes with tons of Mojo straight from the factory in Korea:
A distinct “Peter Green”-flavored woody Blues tone (neck pickup) and of course the Kinks growl (from the bridge) are my rewards for waiting 50 years to finally own this guitar. The Guild-branded Bigsby tremolo is a pleasure to use apart from its awesome vintage appearance. When listening to these tones coming out of my amps (Fender Bassman LTD Reissue, Fender Twin Reverb Custom 15 and VOX AC30 + VOX AC15), I can truly say that this Starfire III is a classy axe. This guitar finally “Really Got Me”, after 50 years.