NEW STARFIRE II BASS

bytr6

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Has anyone played or otherwise checked out the new Starfires? $3500 is big bucks. Is it worth it? I have always wanted a Starfire (big Lesh and Jack Cassady fan since jr. high), would I be better to look for the original? How are the pickups compared to the vintage of the Dark Stars (BTW: Are they gone forever?)?
Brian
 

SFIV1967

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Only nine (9) GSR SF-2 were produced at all, they were a special run only. (GSR=Guild Special Run).
Hence you also don't see them at the Guild webpage.
The pickups were original Guild® Bass Humbucking Pickups that Guild still had NOS in a drawer somewhere from previous years.
Some of the 9 are still available like here:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Guild-GSR-Starf ... 1149232230
http://www.ebay.com/itm/GUILD-LIMITED-E ... 0920603303

A production quantity Starfire Bass I (not II) was just introduced at NAMM 2013 last week, have a look here: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=35213&p=387833&#p387833

That new Starfire Bass I will sell for only slightly above $1000. Not available before March/April however.

Ralf
 

bytr6

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I know all of that, but what about the sound?
 

fronobulax

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bytr6 said:
I know all of that, but what about the sound?

I'm confused by your question, but my confusion has never stopped me.

I had the only bass amp at LMG III and played the GSR Starfire I through my little Line 6. My recollection is that it sounded more like my '71 JS II with (original) Guild humbuckers than like my '67 Starfire with the Bisonic. It was a very nice and well crafted bass. Sonically, it was different from what I already have, but not different enough to justify $3500. Neither was it enough like the '67 that I could imagine replacing the '67 with the GSR bass. If I had my heart set on the Bisonic sound and that kind of money then I would definitively go vintage.

Fast forward a few months and we have the Newark Street bass in the mix. Guild claims that the Newark Street line has a Guild Bisonic that is a reverse engineered copy of a vintage Hagstrom Bisonic. In theory it should capture that vintage tone, but no one has played one much and the demo video doesn't really answer the question for me.

There are broad hints that the PU will be available as a separate item and the Newark Street line may include a Starfire II in the future although no one knows when the future will get here. Fred Hammon has been talking to people about taking over Dark Star production although no announcements have been made and the idea may have been abandoned. There are at least two other folks who are trying to make a Bisonic/Dark Star clone (and one of them posts at LTG).

So it comes down to what you want and what is your budget?

If you have to have a Starfire II then your best bet is probably to buy vintage. If the bass doesn't have original Bisonics then you cross your fingers and hope that one of the modern replacements actually get the right sound, buy two of them and swap them in.

If you want the sound and understand that a Starfire I comes pretty close then you either go vintage now or wait to see what the Newark Street really sounds like (which won't be until March 2013 according to the shipping estimates I have heard).

My suggestion also depends upon your budget. If you have $3500 in hand now then go vintage. If you are trying to scrape together $1000 then wait for Newark Street since it will probably take you a few months to find a playable vintage Starfire without issues at that price, if indeed you can find one at all. If Newark Street gets it right then buying one for an expected $1000 plus change is a no brainer compared to vintage.
 

fronobulax

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SFIV1967 said:
The pickups were original Guild® Bass Humbucking Pickups that Guild still had NOS in a drawer somewhere from previous years.

Actually the well informed rumor was that they were original NOS, as it were, but not all of them were in drawers owned by Guild and some of them were purchased (possibly from former employees) for this use.
 

idealassets

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That new Starfire Bass I will sell for only slightly above $1000. Not available before March/April however
I have a bad feeling that if this bass is produced it may ruin it all. The average guy listening to a bass part in a club is only aware that he heard a "Guild bass", or a "Starfire". Hardly anyone will be aware of the difference between the real thing- an original and quality constructed vintage rarity, or just a modern copy on the cheap. So if the clubs become flooded with folks playing "a Guild Starfire bass", without knowing all the subtleties (Hagestrom pickup, etc)- the results may be less than desirable. -Just my opinion.
 

Zelja

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The "average guy" won't concentrate or notice such (for them) minutiae in the overall sound of a band. Some double blind tests will be in order to see if the experts can.
 

fronobulax

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idealassets said:
That new Starfire Bass I will sell for only slightly above $1000. Not available before March/April however
I have a bad feeling that if this bass is produced it may ruin it all. The average guy listening to a bass part in a club is only aware that he heard a "Guild bass", or a "Starfire". Hardly anyone will be aware of the difference between the real thing- an original and quality constructed vintage rarity, or just a modern copy on the cheap. So if the clubs become flooded with folks playing "a Guild Starfire bass", without knowing all the subtleties (Hagestrom pickup, etc)- the results may be less than desirable. -Just my opinion.

I'm not sure what undesirable results you are afraid of. Guild very carefully designed the Newark Street line to be a modern interpretation of vintage designs and not copies or reissues. Thus the discerning player will be able to find differences which may or may not be important to them. It all comes down to whether the Newark Street is a good, well built and finished instrument or a POS. The hands on reports I have seen suggest the former.

By the way - it is not an "if this bass is produced" situation. It is already in production and dealers who have already ordered have been told to expect delivery in March 2013.
 

SFIV1967

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fronobulax said:
By the way - it is not an "if this bass is produced" situation. It is already in production and dealers who have already ordered have been told to expect delivery in March 2013.
According to Mike Lewis the Newark St. Collection will start shipping end of March, so customers will probably not have them before April.
Ralf
 

mgod

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fronobulax said:
idealassets said:
I have a bad feeling that if this bass is produced it may ruin it all. The average guy listening to a bass part in a club is only aware that he heard a "Guild bass", or a "Starfire". Hardly anyone will be aware of the difference between the real thing- an original and quality constructed vintage rarity, or just a modern copy on the cheap. So if the clubs become flooded with folks playing "a Guild Starfire bass", without knowing all the subtleties (Hagestrom pickup, etc)- the results may be less than desirable. -Just my opinion.

I'm not sure what undesirable results you are afraid of. Guild very carefully designed the Newark Street line to be a modern interpretation of vintage designs and not copies or reissues. Thus the discerning player will be able to find differences which may or may not be important to them. It all comes down to whether the Newark Street is a good, well built and finished instrument or a POS. The hands on reports I have seen suggest the former.

By the way - it is not an "if this bass is produced" situation. It is already in production and dealers who have already ordered have been told to expect delivery in March 2013.
It may ruin the collecting "it", but it can only be good for the playing "it".

I don't know if I'd buy one, given how full my closet is, but if they gave me one I'd be playing it (assuming the pickup sounds good). But, assuming the good pickup, if I was looking for one, I'd be looking at one of these. I'd immediately remove the thumb/finger rests, but I never leave anything alone.
 

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I'm not certain/convinced yet that the new Newark St. models are going to be mass-produced. Maybe we need to define that term.

They are certainly being made for a low price... way lower than they ever could've gotten in US production. But, mass-produced implies some sort of number. So, what does it mean? More than 100? 500? Just curious what you think.

Ralf, did Mike L. or any of the other Guild guys even give a clue what they expected production to ramp to? [edit: I wanted to add that the Fender execs we met in October told us they felt the bass market was pretty limited. That was the primary reason they weren't planning a US-built model because they couldn't justify the tooling. Am I recalling correctly, Jamie?]
 

SFIV1967

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Chazmo said:
Ralf, did Mike L. or any of the other Guild guys even give a clue what they expected production to ramp to?
The only thing Mike L. mentioned was that initially production volumes of the Newark St. Collection models will be limited to first check out the market reaction at all.
Hence he said we should not expect them "mass produced" in such volumes that they would have enough to fill big music chain stores like GC as example. (Even if GC is by far FMIC's largest customer).
Now the interest in them seemed to be pretty good, so I guess it comes all down to how many dealers ordered them at NAMM and how many commit to have the line in their stores. I guess we have to wait a couple of month to see how many stores really carry them worldwide.
Now I definitely would think that the Starfire Bass will be one of the lower volume models, maybe a S-100 or a Starfire IV guitar would have more volume.
But just as example, as I also met Thomann with Larry Thomas: Thomann in Germany is the biggest European music store who offers his products to all European countries online. They list them: http://www.thomann.de/gb/search_dir.html?sw=Guild+electric
Ralf
 

SFIV1967

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dlenaghan said:
SFIV1967 said:
But just as example, as I also met Thomann with Larry Thomas: Thomann in Germany is the biggest European music store who offers his products to all European countries online. They list them: http://www.thomann.de/gb/search_dir.html?sw=Guild+electric
Ralf
Funny to note the Bi-sonic called a 'humbucker' on their page.. perhaps just a copy error?
Thomann has quite a few errors in their listings! For instance they call the Newark St. collection: "newmarkt ST colletion"
Ralf
 

mgod

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I want to emphasize that I spent quite a long while playing the Newark St bass and I really enjoyed it. It feels exactly right (I do have some reference points for comparison). I have no opinion about the pickup other than its looks because I could only hear it through a little guitar amp. Personally, I think the choice to recreate the first Guild bass, the mostly-rear pickup Starfire, is super hip. Its an impressive choice and though I have a lot less affection for the red mahogany SFs than I do maple ones of any color, I loved the looks of the thing. I've been watching the process for more than a decade, involved some, bored some, and am both surprised they got it done and really surprised with how good the result is.

NAMM is infested with musicians scamming free gear "for promoting your brand". If I were touring this would be the bass I'd be trying to scam.
 

bytr6

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Sorry for the confusion, I meant to say does anyone know how the less expensive Starfire pups sound compared to, say, the $3,500 GSR or to Dark Stars?
Speaking of Dark Stars; are they gone forever?
 

Zelja

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mgod said:
NAMM is infested with musicians scamming free gear "for promoting your brand". If I were touring this would be the bass I'd be trying to scam.
Well that's a pretty positive review right there! :D
 

SFIV1967

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Zelja said:
mgod said:
NAMM is infested with musicians scamming free gear "for promoting your brand". If I were touring this would be the bass I'd be trying to scam.
Well that's a pretty positive review right there! :D
Exactly! "mgod" knows what he talks about, he owns 13 Guild basses according to his signature!
Ralf
 

fronobulax

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bytr6 said:
Sorry for the confusion, I meant to say does anyone know how the less expensive Starfire pups sound compared to, say, the $3,500 GSR or to Dark Stars?
Speaking of Dark Stars; are they gone forever?

To clarify, when you say the "less expensive Starfire pups" do you mean the Guild Bisonics that are on the Newark Street bass? If so then no one knows the answer since the basses with the PU have not shipped. You can view/listen to the demo of a Newark Street bass and read mgod's comments about playing one through a guitar amp and then you will know just as much as anyone else. Patience.

The PUs in the the GSR are NOS Guild humbuckers. Thus the same PUs are in 70's era Starfires and JS basses. There have been numerous comparisons between the humbuckers, original Bisonics and Dark Stars. The short answer is there is an edge or definition to the Bisonics and Dark Stars that is lacking in the Guild humbucker.

It should be noted that people who have played both the Bisonic and original Dark Stars can hear a difference although it is reported as not significant.

The rumor is that Fred Hammon became overwhelmed by the success of Dark Stars, is unlikely to make any more himself (in the near term anyway) and has talked to others about building them but no deals have been completed or announced.

It should also be noted that there are at least two efforts (besides Guild's) to replicate the Bisonic so there may be a non-Guild Dark Star alternative once those efforts mature and actually ship product.
 
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