Newark Street Starfire Bass

fronobulax

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This is a placeholder for comments by people who actually have played one and for questions from potential buyers. I started my comments over here but I will probably post in both places as appropriate until I finally get my act together for the definitive comparison to a 1967 Starfire.

Two immediate comments. I have received a PM that supports my impression that the sound is not 100% vintage Bisonic but agrees with me that it could be the roundwound strings that are causing that impression and not the PU. So the jury is still out on that, IMO.

There have been quality control questions. The first review I saw was from a blogger named John B. who ultimately returned it after a week because there were a couple of things that were not quite right for him. I've heard a report of another bass that could have had better alignment on the tuners and did have a finish crack. I have not looked for that on my bass although I will be doing so soon. Basically I trust my dealer's own QC and if there were anything obvious he would have told me or not sold me the bass. That said, I am hearing some extraneous sounds that are probably bad technique on my part but could be a high fret. So that will take some investigation on my part. I will certainly report any QC problems I note.

Still have to say that, since this is my first new bass since, 1972, I am very pleased.
 

mavuser

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I am the one that sent Frono the PM. the bass I ordered was likely on the same delivery truck as his, I got the call the same day.

the big difference is mine did not come home with me. had a finish crack in the neck seam very similar to the issues in this thread (dropped the ball and did not take a pic- but very similar to the "red 94" in the thread)-

http://www.letstalkguild.com/ltg/showthread.php?172580-new-starfire-issue-already/page2

which in my opinion...is not limited to Koren guitars, USA guitars, or even Guild guitars. any guitar placed in hardshell case that does not fit properly is going to result-much of the time- in 1 pressure point right above the neck heel, and another pressure point at the bottom of the body where it sits in the case. if the body is "floating" in air (even just a little) and the only parts realy truly touching/resting in the case is that neck right above the heel...and the bottom of the body at the bottom corner of the case...THAT is what im talking about. then u close the case and all the pressure is right on those 2 points. hard to describe without showing someone in the flesh. anyway ill cut this hypothesis off here-just a warning to you all. this drives me CRAZY. always has. i see this in Guilds and Gibsons. Gibson "gig bags" are a disaster as well, and i have told them so. they fit like a glove. A GLOVE THAT IS TOO SMALL. they fit so tight, it warps the necks on Gibson USAs. i am very anal about how my guitars fit in hardshell cases. a couple were tricky to find the right fit, and the case still needed to be modded by raising the floor in the body area, or further depressing the neck valley-or both. in all instances i am talking about cases from the factory that came w the instrument new, or were deisgned for a specific model instrument. they just make them too tight a lot of the time. this is all just my opinion/speculation...maybe there is another reason those neck seams have cracks in the finish. i am not a beliver that the finish "sinks" though. something is pulling it apart.

back the NS SF bass, the tuners appeared offset to one side on the back of the headstock, but looked good on the front. I came home and noticed my 1972 JS1 is basically identical to that-so there must be a reason it appears that way on the back- not an issue.

now to the big question- which Frono may have misunderstood in my initial message to him-i was being conservative and did not want to be held accoutable, but to ME-MY ears, MY opinion- it sounds ALOT like the old one(s). I suppose some of you may want to disect and dismantle the subject of tone and bring in the dark star and a million other things...I am going to fail at all of that but i can tell you it sounds UNREAL and from what i know of the 60's SF basses, they sound very close to each other. put on Flatwound strings and that might require a blindfold test. at least to ME. I cannot emphasize enough however, this is only my personal opinion, and I do not own a 60s SF bass.

as for the 2013 model I had INTENDED to own...they gave me some options which I am currently mulling over. I hadnt paid for the bass yet (other than a 20 percent deposit from a few months ago-fully backed by a credit card compamy of course...) so i dont feel like ive been dealt such a bad hand necassarily, but proceeding with caution. i will not wind up with the blemished one, that much i know.

with all that said the instrument was really nice, and sounded absolutely amazing. the neck is super thin like an early 60s fender mustang bass. played like a dream. I need all the help i can get on bass, and this thing was basically playing itself.

so i am looking forward to hearing more from Frono and anyone else. will check in again when i have an update on my situation.


also i THINK the serial # was .......097 which to me means the 97th Newark St instument-NOT the 97th bass. but that is just a guess.

cheers,
mu
 

SFIV1967

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also i THINK the serial # was .......097 which to me means the 97th Newark St instument-NOT the 97th bass. but that is just a guess.
Yes, numbers are used for all the Newark St. models, I have seem numbers as high as 99x on ebay, so they have produced more than 1000 of the complete series so far. You can't see at all how many of each model were shipped, unfortunately. Also it is still a mystery about the number 12 (behind the KSG), at NAMM we speculated that were year 2012 started prototypes, and I would have expected that this number changes to 13 for 2013, but that has not happened. Nobody was available to explain that to me yet. It would have been so nice to see the year of manufacture in the serial number!
Ralf
 

gilded

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Ralf,

A friend of mine had a lot of guitars built in Korea. The quality varied from shipment to shipment.
In fact the quality gradually went down-hill and the guy stopped marketing those guitars. True story.

I asked him how it could have been different and he said if he'd gone to the factory more than once every couple of years it would have been different. They'd mess up silly things like (scale lengths, good capacitors with the cheap wiring, pickup routing positions, neck binding would be missing the side dots, etc.). Mistakes a guitar player would never make, but a guy who was barking orders at 5 employees might do when he grabbed the blueprints for one neck along with the specs for another body. One time 50 necks were ruined. They had to ship the replacements via air freight.

All this is a prefatory statement to the idea that it would be wrong to expect that the korean manufacturer would change the year info from 12 to 13 unless he got 5 emails about it from Guild/Fender America.

Never expect linear thinking.

gilded
 

twocorgis

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Ralf,

A friend of mine had a lot of guitars built in Korea. The quality varied from shipment to shipment.
In fact the quality gradually went down-hill and the guy stopped marketing those guitars. True story.

I asked him how it could have been different and he said if he'd gone to the factory more than once every couple of years it would have been different. They'd mess up silly things like (scale lengths, good capacitors with the cheap wiring, pickup routing positions, neck binding would be missing the side dots, etc.). Mistakes a guitar player would never make, but a guy who was barking orders at 5 employees might do when he grabbed the blueprints for one neck along with the specs for another body. One time 50 necks were ruined. They had to ship the replacements via air freight.

All this is a prefatory statement to the idea that it would be wrong to expect that the korean manufacturer would change the year info from 12 to 13 unless he got 5 emails about it from Guild/Fender America.

Never expect linear thinking.

gilded
Harry,

I think that you post goes a long way towards explaining the wild swings in QC of the Epiphone Jack Casady Signature basses. I'm happy that mine is a good one (great really, especially with the Hipshot upgrades), but others here haven't had as positive an experience. I know mellowgerman got a terrible one, and have a friend here on Long Island that returned one, swore he'd never buy another, and can't believe how good mine is. He's considering trying again now.
 

fronobulax

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I think my serial ends with 977. I'm too lazy to go look at it. Rocky Streer Sounds has one on eBay that is something like 944.

As for tone, to clarify...

I had rounds on my '67 for many years so I kind of delude myself into thinking I remember what they sounded like.

If I that '67 and the NS, dial the tone to the minimum value I am hard pressed to tell a difference. There is one but it could be due to the strings, the PU location or where I pluck. With the tone down to zero I'd be comfortable advising people to start the search for the bisonic tone with the Newark Street.

But, as I dial the treble up on each bass, the similarity diverges. I think that is because the rounds are brighter but I am not certain enough about that to unconditionally endorse the NS as the vintage alternative. That may change when I change strings or get more ears or get other folks to play both basses.

No signs of finish or other cracking on my bass. I will still look harder.

Did I mention the tuners? If you laid a straight edge across the top it would not lie flat over the E and G or the A and D. Close but no cigar. It doesn't bother me and I need to look and see whether it is that way on any other basses.
 

mavuser

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I should clarify, in my "tone review" I had the tone pot turned all the way off (or zero). and the volume all the way up. that's how i always play bass. I like that "thump" without any tone dialed. The NS SF 1 with the tone dial "off" (zero) sounds like the old 60s SF bass to me (location of tone dial unknown on the 60s one).

I should also emphasize the fact that as I pointed out in my previous post- the thread I posted the link to...refrences 2 guitars. both are Guilds. one is a GSR (starfire?) guitar made in the USA. it sounds expensive and only 18 were made. the other is a "red 94" (starfire ?) which i presume is a Guild and I presume is made in the USA. the problem with the NS SF bass I saw was very similar in nature to those guitars, but honestly not quite as bad (yet).

so say what u want about Korea or Koreans...but they alone are clearly not the problem. In fact I have every faith in the craftsmenship. the bass was absolutely beautiful and sounded UNREAL. sure things go wrong from time to time, fingers will be pointed and blame can be placed appropriately. such is life, blatant mistakes will be made. that does not appear to be the issue here though. not with the bass i saw/played. i stand by my hard case theory. but who knows
 
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fronobulax

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Back to my bass - my bass teacher loves it. I also think it has better sustain than the '67. I still have to get pics and maybe even clips and a string change but this is not looking to be a lazy weekend with lots of time.

In case this thread is the first thing a potential purchaser finds, note that Guild's specs say a hard shell case is included in their posted MSRP, but there are some dealers who are either not mentioning the case or explicitly advertising No Case. Thus make sure you get a case or a price adjustment.
 

Bill Ashton

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Hey Frono, gonna update your signature? Or is the jury still out?
 

idealassets

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Congratulations on a nice bass. Did you get a SFI or SFII? Since I stay on my 6 string & 12 string's, I will leave the bass playing to the experts.

Play in good health,
Craig
 

fronobulax

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Congratulations on a nice bass. Did you get a SFI or SFII? Since I stay on my 6 string & 12 string's, I will leave the bass playing to the experts.

Play in good health,
Craig
At this point, much like the Model T car, you can only get a Newark Street Starfire bass as a one pickup model, finished in red. I can make a case it might be a long time before we see a Starfire II since they might have to do some more reverse engineering. I'd love to see some color options, especially ones that Guild never offered before or were rare but that seems a ways out as well.
 

mavuser

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Some info on the Newark Street Starfire Bass has been posted elsewhere on the forum, I will try to collect and move as much info to this thread as I can. Cheers.

"Fit and finish are pretty darn good. I did not go over the NS with a fine tooth comb but I couldn't find anything wrong. Dealer said the nuts on the Newark Streets he's had in (bass and guitars) were sometimes a bit rough but his tech touched them up in a couple minutes. Mechanically it is a Starfire. The thumb and finger rests are spaced slight wider than the width of the vintage pickup but that's the only playing difference noted. The bridge is not visually identical and future work will highlight the trivial differences. Binding is WBW but Mrs. Fro. noted the width of the B stripe was not the same.

The key, of course is the sound, and the issue is the NS ships with roundwound strings. I demo'd it in the store and when the treble (tone pot) was up it sounded thin and tinny and not like my memory of a Starfire with rounds at all. Dialing the treble down gave a sound more like what I was expecting. Emotion won over logic and I bought it anyway. I plugged it into my Line 6 at home and was immediately happier. The treble was still there but not to the point of being tinny. I could start to hear the "growl" I associate with a Bisonic in a hollow body. So my first impression is that the NS PU is very close to a Bisonic but not a completely accurate copy. I had rounds on the vintage Starfire for decades so I am comfortable comparing the NS to my memory but I should withhold judgement until I put flats on it.

Case is a TKL case and a bit too snug at the moment. Silver/Chrome hardware as opposed to Gold/Brass on the vintage case. Case candy included a polishing cloth and a t shaped tool which I presume is a truss rod wrench. Contrary to Guild's web site, no pickguard.

Bottom line is that it is a very fine bass. For many people it will be an adequate substitute for a vintage Starfire at a lower cost. The Bisonic aficionado should probably wait until I change strings or at least wait until I go beyond my first impression. I'm off to practice :) "

"I love the new bass as does everyone else who has played it. Fit and finish are "perfect", noting that my inspections have sometimes been cursory. There is a slight worn spot in the finish on my '67 on the back of the neck about where I want to put my thumb in 2nd or 3rd position. That is driving me crazy because the new bass is as smooth as a baby's behind there so I actually prefer the new neck as a result. The new bass has rounds and as such it is difficult to directly compare the sound. Dial down the tone and it is very, very close. Interestingly, I played it through my "big" amp and the differences in sound seem to diminish, although that could just be everything else in the room vibrating

I owe LTG some sounds clips, more pics, A/B comparisons (do they both fit the same cases?) and a test drive with flats but I have to confess that I am spending my time playing it instead of documenting it."

"...the sonic differences I can hear between the Starfires through the Line 6 were much less distinct through the Peavey."

"My case has a Guild badge with "Newark Street" on it. Photos to come."

"I have played/heard the Newark Street bass. I think it sounds unreal and "very close" to what I know of both maple and mahogany 60's Starfires with the pup in both the neck and bridge postions. I am making a general statement and saying that it is right in the neighborhood it needs to be in. The new pick up is likely a dead ringer of the Hagstrom Bisonic. But really no 2 from the 60s will even sound identical, and with the varing woods and pick up postions, and probaly alot of other little things, you would really need the exact 1965? version of the Starfire that the Newark Street was designed after, to make the most fair comparison. Mind you the wood is 50 years younger...the pup is not to blame for that. When someone takes the new pup out of the Newark Street bass and throws it into a 60s Starfire bass, that person can tell us if they sound alike. Frono I am not asking you to take your basses apart and swap pups, and it's the last thing id do if I was in your shoes. Also in Frono's case, I don't expect the 2 basses to sound the same when one pup is in the neck position and the other pup is in the bridge position (and then the age of the wood and whatever other small differences)...I would imagine most Starfire 2 bass owners would tell me the brige pup sounds different than the neck pup.

I'd advise people to take the Newark Street bass for what it is (not "is this identical to a 60s Starfire bass") and if you do that, you wil be very happy. its not 100 percent a 60s Starfire. And Im not the type of person that can say its 90 percent or 75 percent or whatever. But it is 100 percent totally awesome and it plays like a dream. the neck plays just like a 66-68 fender mustang bass- it just feels like a regular guitar. hence the salesman pitch, "great bass for guitar players." "

"id like to add it appears unclear, if you buy a Newark Street bass online, whether or not you get the hard case. it might come with NOTHING. definately look into that if your considering buying one online/amazon/sam ash website. try to just get one in a regular store in the flesh from a real person, those definatley have hard cases, Definately ask/inquire as to the hard case in all scenarios. The bass should come with one "

It is also noted that maybe 100-200 are believed to have been made available for retail sale at this point, or close to that.

It is also noted that a handful of them, case included, have sold on ebay for the BIN price of 1099 (tax and/or shipping charges unknown). It is presumed others have sold as well, outside of ebay.

It is also noted that at least one or 2 of them have been returned due to personal preference in set up/action/fret size, and/or slight blemishes in the finish when delivered from the factory (these were very early in the game, some of the very first NSSF basses to be made). All public feedback to this point, however, agree the bass is high quality craftsmanship, and sounds fantastic, for what it is.

Also from my brief personal test drive of the NSSF bass, the neck is super slim and easy to play, just like a slim bass neck from a 60's Guild SF bass.
 
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To chime in here: a couple of weeks ago I became the owner of what is probably the very first Guild Newark Street Starfire anywhere in Europe, serial ending in ....257. I tried one of the prototypes earlier this year during the Musik Messe in Frankfurt and instantly decided 'I have to have this bass'.

This bass was on sale on eBay for $934 so I took the gamble and went for it. After delivery I exchanged to rounds for flats immediately, and it simply sounds fantastic. Very deep, thumphy and satisfying, especially with the tone dialed down. Setup was no problem at all. Plays smooth, nice & comfortable neck.

It looks great also, although it has the same minor flaws that were already mentioned on other basses; some weird discolouration on the edge of the fretboard, plus tuners that are placed a little bit off. No problems for me however, and I guess it's typical for early production. The center stripe on the back of the neck is smack in the middle, where it should be. The fretboard-thing is not laquer chipping, btw; the lighter areas have lacquer on them.

It's a keeper, no question!



 

fronobulax

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To chime in here:
Welcome, and thank you.

I have some interesting things going on with the fretboard finish on my '67. Maybe someone thought those were supposed to be "reverse engineered".

Curiously, I have not been willing to swap out the rounds yet. The fact that I had rounds on the '67 for decades probably makes a difference, even if I agree that I like the '67 better with flats.
 

fronobulax

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I realize I owe a lot of comparisons but quite frankly, to paraphrase Rhett Butler, I'm not sure I care. Rather spend the time playing.

That said, I am popping in because I did try cases. My vintage case was bough new circa 1977 when I bought the '67 used. The '67 fits in either case although with 5 seconds of experimenting, I'm not sure it is as snug in the Newark Street case as it is in its own. The Newark Street will not fit in the vintage case. Headstock is bigger, the ears on the tuning pegs may be bigger and the net result is the headstock won't fit. Eyeballing both cases makes it clear that the NS case can accommodate a bigger headstock.
 

lungimsam

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FOR EVERYONE'S INFO:
Today a return email from Guild said there are no plans at this time for other colors or Starfire II bass models unless this release does well in the market. It will all depend on that, they said.
 

mikko

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Hmm...I was waiting for a SF II in different color and hence not buying this. What a dilemma.
 

fronobulax

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Hmm...I was waiting for a SF II in different color and hence not buying this. What a dilemma.
I'm guessing you have several years to wait. The bass has to do well in the marketplace which means that the demand has to remain high even as production and distribution ramp up. Clearly you need to buy one now to signal that the demand is strong and then buy another in 3-5 years when new colors are introduced (if they ever are).
 
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