A New Guitar — Guild Starfire III-90

December 17, 2008 at 7:26 am 4 comments

The Guild Guitar Company is a USA-based guitar manufacturer founded in 1952. The first Guild workshop was located in New York City, but production was later moved to Westerly, Rhode Island. All Guild production was moved to a factory in Corona, California after Guild was purchased by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation in 1995. In 2004, FMIC acquired the assets of Washington-based Tacoma Guitar Company and all American Guild acoustic production has since been moved to Tacoma, Washington, while production of Guild electric guitars was discontinued.

In the 90’s, Guild decided to offer the Starfire III with single coil pickups – the first time since the switch to humbuckers istarfire_full_frontn 1963. If they had wanted to replicate the original single coil Starfires, Guild should have chosen the DeArmond Dynasonic pickups makes for Gretsch (and which I have on my Gretsch 6120DSV), but instead the Starfire III was fitted with Seymour Duncan P-90 pickups. This version is identified by the “-90″ suffix in the model name. The Seymour Duncan P-90s that Guild uses in the Starfire III-90 is a version of Seymour’s “Antiquity” P-90 for both neck and bridge, without the cosmetic aging.

According to the seller, this guitar was actually made in the Westerly, RI factory. The label inside the guitar says this as well. Since the serial number denotes a year of manufacture later than 1997, and since production was moved to Corona in 1995 after Fender acquired Guild, there must have been a period of overlap in which both facilities were operating. The headstock of this guitar is more flared than than most of the Starfires I’ve seen from this period. It appears this guitar was never played.

It was the combination of construction (slim but true hollow body), short scale (24.75”), Bigsby vibrato and P-90 pickups that attracted me to this model. The natural flamed maple finish was also a factor — it is my favorite, as a review of my other guitars will indicate. No other major manufacturer has a recent model like this. Gibson’s ES125 and ES225 can be had in similar configuration, but they usually have no Bigsby and haven’t been made since the 50’s and 60’s — thus commanding vintage prices.

Depending on how this guitar is set up and with what type of strings, it should be equally adept at a few styles. Set up with flatwounds, it should be a good straight-ahead jazz guitar, given its construction is just like a thin ES-175. Also with flats, it should do rockabilly pretty well, given that the construction is much like a Gretsch 6120. With lighter round-wound strings, it should do bluesy and rock overdriven tones quite well. The enabling factor is the P-90 pickup, which is extremely verstile.

All of my gear can be seen at http://www.shufflocity.com/gear/index.htm

Entry filed under: Guitar, Jazz, jazz fusion, Music, Oldies, Smooth Jazz, Vintage Instrumentals.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. john tomczak  |  February 13, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Hi, would U ever consider SELLING your Guild Sratfire III w/ P-90 PICKUPS. thanks, : ) JOHN

  • 2. Jules  |  December 1, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Thanks for the info.

    I have recently got one of these – looks identical to yours. I’ve played Gretsches for years. Every time I use this guitar I like it a little bit more.

    It has a great rockabilly tone with the P90s and sounds huge through my Carr Rambler amp.

  • 4. rad man  |  September 7, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    I just picked up one of these Starfire III -90 last year off Craig’s . . . WHY are these guitars so inexpensive at $1100.00?? I mean, it’s literally a thin-line ARCH TOP, NO CENTER BLOCK, sooooo cool !!!! . . .mine is sun/tobacco burst w/ p-90’s. Built 2001, Westerly Guild Plant . . . and it is nearly mint . . . The workmanship is flawless, binding, fit, finish ~ AND It’s an American made guitar, It is as close to custom shop as anyone will get without paying the custom shop price . . . and the guitar plays & sounds amazing and the Bigsby is a bonus as far as i’m concerned. My local Sam Ash carry’s the newer japanese pro-line Gretsch’s, Falcon’s, Country Gent . . . and the coolness factor with Gretsch is near the top, cuz I have been looking at them for almost 2-yr but something told me to wait. So after I saw NEIL GIRALDO (pat benetar’s guitarist) on TV playing a Guild Starfire III I had to investigate. Let’s just say, I would assume NEIL GIRALDO can afford to play / perform with ANY GUITAR ON THE PLANET and he is playing a Guild Starfire III and as I read where he said it is by far the BEST SOUNDING / PLAYING guitar he has ever owned . . . Really?? Yes!! . . . and that is a quote . . Google it . . . I will never sell this guitar . . it is the bomb .. . for how nice it plays & sounds, looks and stays perfectly in tune. The P90’s are beyond cool . . Honestly, if you inscribed GRETSCH on the head stock of this guitar, it would easily sell for > 3K, maybe even 4K . . it’s that good. Shame Guild could not survive in Westerly producing these awesome guitar’s . . . what was Fender Mus Instr. thinking??


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