Guild »

[30 Mar 2011 | No Comment | ]
 Guild Starfire IVThe Guild Starfire IV was arguably the most popular guitar in the Starfire line, enjoying the longest production run into the early 1980s. It was originally introduced in the early 60s as a mid-level semi-hollow electric, and promoted as having the same quality and look of the Starfire V without the more expensive hardware. Looking back on it now, that promotion probably was flawed due the fact that all Starfires were of similar construction. Regardless, legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy lent his endorsement to the model in the 70s.

During the first few years of production the IV changed very little. But in 1967 the neck was slightly modified by moving the joint from the 16th to the 18th front. When the Starfire V died in the early 1970s, the IV inherited the RotoMatic tuners, block inlay, and master volume control. The modifications are most likely what extended the Starfire IV's life as long as it did.

By the early 1980s the Starfire IV was the only model still in production. The old humbuckers were replaced by Guild XR-7 pickups, a move that wasn't well received by some Starfire IV aficionados. Two other significant changes that may have eventually led to its downfall were the replacement of the block inlay with a dot inlay on a mahogany fretboard, and a new Quickchange SP-6 tailpiece. Toward the end of its life the Starfire IV had undergone enough changes that it only resembled the original in terms of overall aesthetic appearance. (more…)

Guild »

[29 Mar 2011 | No Comment | ]
 Guild Starfire T 100The Starfire name is perhaps one of the most well-known among fans of the Guild semi-hollow electric archtops. The company made seven models in the line, plus a bass, beginning in the early sixties. However, there seems to be some confusion about the T-100 and the Starfire T-100. In order to clear up the confusion, the first thing to know is that they are essentially the same guitar.

The original T-100 was introduced in the late 50s as an entry-level, fully-hollow electric archtop. It had one single-coil P-90 pickup (though you could oder it with dual P-90s), a laminated maple body, and three-in-a-row tuners. They also had a Bigsby tailpiece and vibrato. Being that it was fully hollow, there were a lot of feedback issues with the original T-100.

In the early 60s Guild needed a new line to compete with Gibson's ES models, and the Starfire was born. The first Starfire was simply a T-100 updated with a sunburst finish and some new hardware. Other than that it was the same guitar. These axes are sometimes referred to as the Starfire I, or just plain Starfire - but they're all the same guitar. (more…)

Guild »

[28 Mar 2011 | No Comment | ]
 Guild Starfire VIThe Guild Starfire VI was the sixth guitar in the Starfire line, and according to some, the best of all of them. It was made primarily to be a competitor to the Gibson ES-355 as the premier Guild electric archtop. Following its predecessors, the VI has the same slick, thin-line design with a 1 7/8" inch body made with laminated maple; seven bound layers to be exact. The mahogany neck provides the base for a bound ebony fretboard, complete with abalone inlays that slightly resemble an Epiphone.

The guitar owes its sound largely to the two HB-1 humbucker pickups Guild was known to use. There are dual tone and volume controls, a pickup switch, and a single master volume control. The master volume, which was first introduced to the Starfire line beginning with the V model, was a great feature that gave professionals even more control over their sound throughout the course of a gig. It was an addition many of the pros loved.

As far as the hardware was concerned, the Starfire VI featured gold plated Kolb tuners until 1965, when they switched to Grover RotoMatics. The gold-plated Bigsby tailpiece and vibrato added a touch of flair, especially on models with the sunburst finish, although many think they were somewhat visually overbearing. Nonetheless, this semi hollow archtop electric continued the rich, jazzy tones that the Starfire was known for. With the right amp setup an experienced player could achieve almost any sound he desired. (more…)

Gretsch »

[22 Mar 2011 | No Comment | ]
 Gretsch 6120 NashvilleThe Gretsch 6120 Nashville started out as the Chet Atkins model when first introduced in 1955. The 6120 carried the Chet Atkins signature and name up until the endorsement was dropped in the mid-1960s, when it was then renamed the Nashville. This guitar cost $385 in its first run and featured plenty of Western flair. From the cow heads and cactus etchings to the over-sized "G" that looked like a cattle brand, the 6120 was all Chet.

The first models were fitted with DeArmond pickups, which Mr. Atkins absolutely despised. He claimed they sucked the life out of the guitar for everyone except Duane Eddy. They were replaced with Gretsch's FilterTron humbuckers in 1958. Further changes in the early sixties brought a narrowing of the body by one inch, a double cutaway, and a padded back. By 1962 the 6120 was nothing like the original that won so many fans. (more…)

Epiphone »

[22 Mar 2011 | No Comment | ]
 Epiphone Joe PassThe Epiphone Joe Pass electric archtop is named after none other than the legendary Sicilian jazz guitarist, Joe Pass. Mr. Pass was known for his incredible solo work which included a melodic playing style and chord inversions rarely heard prior to his time.

Despite the reputation of the Joe Pass name, the guitar was originally released as the Emperor in the early 1990s. It was Epiphone's answer to its Gibson cousin, the ES-175. In 1993 the new model was released as the Emperor II, but with Joe Pass' endorsement just prior to his death in 1994, the guitar began carrying his name. Epiphone claims that Mr. Pass contributed to the restyling of the Emperor II to distinguish it from the ES-175. Interestingly enough, although Joe Pass endorsed the Epiphone model, he was normally seen playing a Gibson. (more…)

Gretsch »

[21 Mar 2011 | No Comment | ]
6109-TwistIf ever there was an example proving that marketing gimmicks don't necessarily equal good products, it would be the Gretsch 6109 Twist. The 6109 Twist was part of Gretsch's second-generation Corvette family, designed to be a less expensive alternative to Gibson and Fender solid-body electrics. But the guitar, along with its two siblings - the 6110 Twist in the 6106 Princess - were built simply on the idea of taking an already terrible instrument and trying to sell it with a new look.

First generation Corvettes were designed with unsculpted bodies, huge pick guards, and a rectangular truss rod cover next to the pickguard. Because Gretsch insisted on a true solid-body with no routed hollows, these guitars were extremely heavy and clumsy to play. The second-generation Corvettes simply tried to make the package more attractive, expecting that it would produce more customers. Unfortunately, the idea failed and the line only lasted two years.

As for the Twist, it got its name from the peppermint twist fad of the early 1960s. The body was bright red while the peppermint effect was achieved by using a white and red candy-striped pickguard. Even by 1960s standards the Twist was a stretch toward ugly. (more…)