Starfire guitar vs Byrdland

lungimsam

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I tell you what, if you always wanted a Byrdland, the Guild Starfires are probably a great sounding and better priced substitute.
I know if I was looking for one, I would just go Guild and probably get just as good sounding an axe but for the reasonable price. Plus the coolness of it being a Guild and not the ubiquitous Gibson guitar.
I am only saying this because I heard the Starfire video demos.
Anyone owned both care to comment?
 

parker_knoll

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The Byrdland is a pretty particular piece as it has a very short scale, as well as being wide and thin. No Guilds available with a short scale as far as I know. The only wide and thin Guilds you can get are the vintage Duane Eddy series or the newer but also very expensive T-400 and T-500. Mind you, Byrdlands are even more expensive.
 

Guildedagain

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You know what they say about comparing yourself to others, don't.

"The Byrdland is an electric guitar made by Gibson. Its name derives from the names of guitarists Billy Byrd and Hank Garland for whom Gibson originally custom-built the guitar.

The Byrdland is the first of Gibson's Thinline series.[1] Many guitarists did not desire the bulk of a traditional archtop guitar such as Gibson's L-5, one of Gibson's top models. The Byrdland, with its overall depth of 2¼-in, is thinner than the L-5's 3⅜" depth. Gibson's president, Ted McCarty, sought opinions and ideas about new products. The suggestions from Byrd and Garland led to the development of the Byrdland. The Byrdland, first made in 1955, is essentially a custom-built, thinner, L-5CES (Cutaway-Electric-Spanish). Later, the two specified a shorter scale and narrower-than-standard neck. Guitarists who had an opportunity to play Gibson samples liked the Byrdland's short scale neck (23½"), which facilitated intricate single-note patterns and unusual stretched chord voicings. The Byrdland then became a regular production instrument. One thing which hampered the instrument's popularity in the ensuing years was the narrow neck width (1-5/8" at the nut, as opposed to Gibson's standard nut width of 1-11/16"). Gibson developed the ES-350T from the Byrdland using less-costly hardware and detailing, and offered it as a less expensive model.[2]

From 1955 to 1960, Gibson made the Byrdland with a rounded Venetian cutaway. (The illustration shows the Venetian style.) From 1961 to 1968, it used the sharp-edged Florentine cutaway, returning to the Venetian in 1969. The model was in production from 1955 through early 1969 with the narrow nut width. In 1969, the nut width was changed to the standard 1 11/16", although some 1970s examples were produced with the narrower width.

In the mid-1960s, guitarist Ted Nugent began using a Byrdland, an unusual choice considering Nugent's high-volume style of music. The hollow-bodied design of the guitar caused feedback at higher levels of gain and volume, which would normally make it impractical for hard rock and similar styles, but Nugent controlled this feedback and incorporated it into his playing.[3]

British guitar player John McLaughlin used a sunburst Byrdland with a scalloped fretboard. Other famous Byrdland players are Anthony Wilson, Louie Shelton, David T. Walker and James Blood Ulmer.

The guitar is currently available as part of Gibson's Custom Series and is made with the Florentine cutaway.[4][5] In 1976 only, Gibson offered a twelve-string version, but made fewer than 20.

The famous jazz club, Birdland, filed a lawsuit against Gibson over the name. The court dismissed the suit when Gibson showed that the name was made up from the names of two people."
 

shihan

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Years ago I had an Ibanez ‘lawsuit’ copy of a Byrdland. Very different from a SF. The short scale made it easy to fly around the neck, but chord voicing in the higher frets was a real problem. I sold it to fund a 335, which I liked much better.
 

bobouz

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It’s all about the 23.5” scale, and that makes the Byrdland a rather different animal compared to a Starfire, imho. In 2013, Gibson made a limited run of guitars mating a semi-hollow flat-top body (Midtown Series) to a Byrdland 23.5” scale neck - and called it the Midtown Kalamazoo. I’ve changed out the knobs & switch tip on mine - otherwise it’s stock. I find the super short scale very easy to play:

D4A5AA86-20A7-4067-A51C-0360AD9CABD3.jpeg

48A37791-1B19-45A1-8D08-2C2F5A1F16EC.jpeg
 

Brad Little

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10-15 years ago, our local Sam Ash had a Byrdland on display in a glass case near the front of the store, don't remember what they were asking, but more than I could spend, even if I were interested. A few months later, the glass case held a vintage Artist Award that, even though I was interested, was out of my budget at the time, but not nearly as high as the Byrdland.
 

cupric

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When I worked for Philips Medical in the mid 2000s, they had their headquarters in the Nashville area. I attended a week long seminar there. One evening I went to the Grand Old Opry mall. Gibson had a store and manufacturing area there. At the time they were constructing mandolin and banjos at this location.
They had a retail area with all their guitars for sale. I had never seen a Byrdland in the flesh before. I played it a minute or two. It was $28,000!
 

Rambozo96

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When I worked for Philips Medical in the mid 2000s, they had their headquarters in the Nashville area. I attended a week long seminar there. One evening I went to the Grand Old Opry mall. Gibson had a store and manufacturing area there. At the time they were constructing mandolin and banjos at this location.
They had a retail area with all their guitars for sale. I had never seen a Byrdland in the flesh before. I played it a minute or two. It was $28,000!
I seem to recall Ted Nugent took out a loan for his original Byrdland that his had had to co-sign for. Apparently Ted’s dad thought it was a loan for a Buick!
 

gilded

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I like both guitars, but I don't think that Starfires and Byrdlands sound anything alike.

The first Byrdland I every played was in the early '70s. It might have been brand new. It belonged to a local club-date player I knew in the Silver Springs area of Maryland. He liked it because it was easy to play on his long country club gigs. He made $40K a year as a salesman in a music store and another $40K working at Country Clubs. Not bad for '74!

Everything I knew how to play on guitar, I played with great ease for about 10 minutes. Then, I couldn't play anything at all!!
My fingers wobbled all over the place. I couldn't even play a C major chord- nothing! In a nutshell, I think I needed the extra tension on a 25 1/2" scale guitar to react against when I played guitar (I hope that makes sense, I don't know how else to say it).

45 years later, my hands are busy falling apart and I feel like I understand the reason for the super short scale better. I know what I want to play now, so I don't absolutely need the extra tension of the long scale to keep my playing in line. For example, I played with '66 Byrdland for about 6 months a couple of years ago and there was no big handicap from the shorter scale.

I could mention some other stuff, but most of the stuff has been covered by my fellow LTG members. I do think I would rather have one with the 1 &11/16th nut, but then you would have to get a later one and that may not be as good a guitar.

One final thing, I would be really surprised if Billy Byrd and Hank Garland were using super skinny strings on these guitars back in the '50s. Part of the idea was to be able to play a multitude of chords quickly and easily. That's my guess, anyway.

gilded
 

Uke

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When I worked for Philips Medical in the mid 2000s, they had their headquarters in the Nashville area. I attended a week long seminar there. One evening I went to the Grand Old Opry mall. Gibson had a store and manufacturing area there. At the time they were constructing mandolin and banjos at this location.
They had a retail area with all their guitars for sale. I had never seen a Byrdland in the flesh before. I played it a minute or two. It was $28,000!
Jeez!:oops:
 

Opsimath

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When I worked for Philips Medical in the mid 2000s, they had their headquarters in the Nashville area. I attended a week long seminar there. One evening I went to the Grand Old Opry mall. Gibson had a store and manufacturing area there. At the time they were constructing mandolin and banjos at this location.
They had a retail area with all their guitars for sale. I had never seen a Byrdland in the flesh before. I played it a minute or two. It was $28,000!
What was your opinion? How well/not well did it play? How did it sound?

Certainly not in the same price range, but I tried a $5,000+ used guitar at the local GC. How did it sound? I didn't think it was any better than the more affordable new and used guitars that they had hanging in the acoustic room.
 

cupric

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What was your opinion? How well/not well did it play? How did it sound?

Certainly not in the same price range, but I tried a $5,000+ used guitar at the local GC. How did it sound? I didn't think it was any better than the more affordable new and used guitars that they had hanging in the acoustic room.
It sounded good. But, like you said, not any better than any other archtop. It didn't blow me away! I was way more amazed at the prices of the instruments there. They were at least list price. But all the Gibson icons were there. I did not walk away feeling I had left "the one" behind.
 

bobouz

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I was way more amazed at the prices of the instruments there. They were at least list price. But all the Gibson icons were there. I did not walk away feeling I had left "the one" behind.
Likewise, I visited the Opry mall store in 2004. A great collection of Gibsons, which allowed you to play & compare, but the prices were steep - so it was a good opportunity to find one you liked & then go home & order it from GC at a reasonable discount. My wife almost had to put me down with a dart gun to drag me outta there!
 

Rich Cohen

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I owned a 2004 mint condition Epiphone Byrdland made in Japan by Takata with the "Elitist" red label on the back of the neck. They were made only for a few years because their quality was so high, potential Gibson buyers were opting on the Epiphone version. Even the pups were American made, same as the Gibson model. I had to pay $3500 for it, but considerably less than a Gibson, and it was a great guitar. You can still find them on Reverb and other sites for around $3,000 - $3,500.
 

gilded

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I owned a 2004 mint condition Epiphone Byrdland made in Japan by Takata with the "Elitist" red label on the back of the neck. They were made only for a few years because their quality was so high, potential Gibson buyers were opting on the Epiphone version. Even the pups were American made, same as the Gibson model. I had to pay $3500 for it, but considerably less than a Gibson, and it was a great guitar. You can still find them on Reverb and other sites for around $3,000 - $3,500.
Rich, why did you sell it?
 

Rich Cohen

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I couldn't get comfortable with the thinness of it. Also, I was hankering for another guitar at the time, and used the money that way.
 

bobouz

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I owned a 2004 mint condition Epiphone Byrdland made in Japan by Takata with the "Elitist" red label on the back of the neck.
Rich, the company that made the Elitist line for Epiphone/Gibson is Terada. I have two Epiphone electrics & one acoustic made by Terada, and indeed, the workmanship is stellar throughout.
 

Guildadelphia

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Terada also makes the Gretsch Professional Series Guitars. I have a Terada made Gretsch and it's a beautifully built, great sounding and playing instrument. I saw a video on the Terada factory in Japan. They make 'em the old fashioned way, lots of hand work.
 
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