DeArmond Starfire II bass

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I recently got to test drive one of these for the first time and examine it close up. I have read some opinions that these come off pretty of cheesy compared to the (MIK) Newark Street Guilds, but didn't find this to be the case, at least based with this example. The Gold Tone pups aren't Bi-Sonics, to be sure, or even Guild Buckers, but I didn't find them to be terrible. They're just something different from either, IMHO (then again, I'm also not among those who loath the Guild Buckers).

Overall build quality on this one was quite nice, it intoned well, stayed in tune (stock machines) and the neck felt comfortable and familiar ("like a Starfire"). The "appointments" are more Spartan (no stringer in the neck, no master volume control, budget pots/switch) but then, it was made for a much lower price point, so that comes as no big shock The overall build/fit/finish otherwise would make it a platform worthy of upgrading those short-comings, I thought.

Of course, compared to an MIA Guild, the differences are a bit more stark.
 

twocorgis

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I recently got to test drive one of these for the first time and examine it close up. I have read some opinions that these come off pretty of cheesy compared to the (MIK) Newark Street Guilds, but didn't find this to be the case, at least based with this example. The Gold Tone pups aren't Bi-Sonics, to be sure, or even Guild Buckers, but I didn't find them to be terrible. They're just something different from either, IMHO (then again, I'm also not among those who loath the Guild Buckers).

Overall build quality on this one was quite nice, it intoned well, stayed in tune (stock machines) and the neck felt comfortable and familiar ("like a Starfire"). The "appointments" are more Spartan (no stringer in the neck, no master volume control, budget pots/switch) but then, it was made for a much lower price point, so that comes as no big shock The overall build/fit/finish otherwise would make it a platform worthy of upgrading those short-comings, I thought.

Of course, compared to an MIA Guild, the differences are a bit more stark.
I own another DeArmond Starfire bass after foolishly selling my first one to bassmyf, and I love it. I think the pups sound great with round wound strings, and quality control is top notch. The MIK models like mine really give very little away to their American made counterparts, although I've heard the Indonesian made examples aren't as good. I've never played a NS Starfire bass, so I can't comment on the quality of them. Mines a keeper for sure, but I'll swap it for another MIK sunburst if one comes along for the right price. the only rub on mine is that it's black, and I'm not a big fan of black guitars, or cars either, for that matter.

You see them available for sale less and less these days, and the prices seem to be climbing for the ones you do see.
 

dreadnut

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Flats, do you know if it was made in Korea or Indonesia? The Korean built ones were superior and used better parts as well.
 

SFIV1967

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do you know if it was made in Korea or Indonesia?
I don't think the DeArmond Starfire bass was made in Indonesia at all. I believe all came from Korea. Not 100% sure however.
Ralf
 

fronobulax

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bassmyf gigs with the DeArmond. He has vintage and NS Starfires in the stable so doing so is a choice, not a necessity.

Before the NS line, tweaking a DeArmond was the cheaper alternative to a vintage Starfire - better than any of the alternatives at the same price point.
 
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Thanks for the responses, all.

Many of you view these DeArmonds as primarily a less-expensive alternative that can be modified (NS Bi-Sonic, Hammon or Novak swap) to sound more like a Guild Starfire. That approach (or going crazy with added, on-board electronics) is absolutely valid so I'm not knocking it in the least, but mine is a bit different. NS Starfires are very much my ergonomic comfort zone (scale length, nut width, string-spacing, neck profile, etc.) so I'm always on the lookout for something that FEELS like a Starfire but sounds (pickups) and looks (finish, head stock shape) a little bit different from the NS-SFs. The DeArmond SF and MIA Guild (Guild Bucker-loaded) re-issues fall squarely into that category.

Would love to own a 60s/70s SF one day, but haven't seen any really clean ones that fall within my budget constraints.
 
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Happy Face

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I used a Dark Starred one for a while. It was one of the batch Fred Hammon put on sale one night on the Dude Pit.

While I was impressed with the quality of the build and the heft of it, I found it to be awkward to play. Which is why I prefer my M-85 over the Starfire shape.
 
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Different strokes and all that: I find smaller-bodied basses awkward to hold. That said, I've considered hunting up a nice M85 from time to time. They might've sold a lot more of the NS version if they'd offered it in some finish options other than black. Appearance-wise and all else being equal, I'm pretty turned off by opaque-finished instruments in general, especially black ones. I enjoy looking at the wood grain.
 

fronobulax

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Different strokes and all that:
*snicker*

A pre 1971 M85-I or II was on my bucket list until i actually played one. I could not tell the difference between it and a similarly vintage Starfire, sonically. Ergonomically I didn't like it or didn't have enough time to warm up to it.
 
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CAVEAT: these are measurements taken from just two, specific examples, one each of the DeArmond and NS Guild Starfire -II both MIK. Necks of each type may vary from one individual instrument to the next, so I have no way of knowing how typical these measurements are.

That said, I put a digital caliper on one of each and this is what I found:

Guild width @ nut: 1.515"
DeArmond width @ nut: 1.626"

Guild thickness @ nut: .851"
DeArmond thickness @ nut: .933"
__________

Guild width @ fret 12: 1.944"
DeArmond width @ fret 12: 2.072"

Guild thickness @ fret 12: .878"
DeArmond thickness @ fret 12: .943"
__________

Guild string spacing @ bridge (outside of E string to outside of G string): 1.947"
DeArmond string spacing @ bridge (outside of E string to outside of G string): 2.159"

Confirms my initial "by-feel" impression that the DeArmond neck is a hair stouter than that of the Guild.
 
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