The Guild Starfire is one of those iconic guitar models that helped define the sixties. Gibson produced the first thinline semi-acoustics in the mid 1950s, but Guild certainly helped in popularising the concept with their Starfire line. It came in several variations: seven guitars and two basses, each with slightly different specifications, and increasing levels or ornamentation. The Guild Starfire was first available in 1960, and has been in production in one form or another the majority of the next 50 years. The Starfire IV is perhaps the best known, and is held in high regard, especially amongst blues musicians. Follow the links below to find out more about each Starfire model. The image below comes from the 1969 Guild catalog and shows Starfire models III to XII, and the Starfire II bass, as well as some of beautiful finishes offered for these guitars.
The Guild Starfire was not the brand's first thinline electric, the T-100 or "Slim Jim" was introduced in 1958, and it is from this model that the earliest Starfires were derived
The models launched in 1960, were the Starfire I, II and III. These guitars all had the single Florentine cutaway body style, of the T-100, rather similar to the Gibson ES-125TC which also debuted in 1960. These guitars were followed in 1963, by the double Venetian cutaway (335-style) guitars, more associated with the Starfire name today. The first models were the single pickup Starfire I, the dual pickup Starfire II (both with harp-style tailpiece) and the Starfire III with two pickups and Bigsby tremolo.
Prior to introduction of the Starfire series, Guild had finished their guitars Sunburst or Blonde. Very nice, but very traditional. As a first for Guild, the Starfire was available in Cherry Red - a finish that Guild named Cherry-Red "Starfire". Other custom finishes were quickly offered: Emerald Green, Honey Amber and Ebony Grain - although Cherry was always the most popular finish for the early single cutaway Starfires.
From the 1963 Guild catalog: A striking beauty in high-gloss Cherry Red, Emerald Green, Honey Amber, or Ebony Grain! The Starfire is equipped with unusual features of extra advantage to the rock 'n roll guitarist who seeks a combination of flashy appearance and unique tonal possibilities.
As the 1960s progressed, new Starfire models were introduced, with increasing levels of ornamentation, with the final thinline model, the Starfire XII introduced in 1965 to cater for the growing folk / twelve string market.
The Guild Starfire shipped throughout the 1960s, 70s and into the 1980s. Today, numerous Starfire reissues are available, proving more popular than ever.
The descriptions below come from the 1971 Guild catalog
All Starfire Guitars: Now with 1 7/8" thin body, 16 3/8" wide, 20 1/4" long, 24 3/4" scale. Mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard (ebony on SF-VI). New Humbucking Pick-Ups.
* Custom Colors: Asterisked colors are Custom Colors. For standard Starfire colors, refer to individual Starfire listings. Stereo Wiring: All Guild double pick-up guitars are available wired for stereo
Starfire. Single cutaway guitar with Guild Bigsby Vibrato Tailpiece. Guild machines. Cherry-Red.
Starfire Standard. Great action, with brilliant tone, impressive looks. One of Guild's most popular Starfires. Guild machines. Sunburst or Cherry-Red.
Starfire Deluxe. Prestige instrument to make you the man to call for the most demanding guitar parts. Grover Roto-Matic machines. Guild Bigsby Vibrato Tailpiece. Master volume. Sunburst or Cherry-Red.
Super Starfire. Finest in the Starfire series. Inlaid ebony fingerboard with mother-of-pearl position markers and Mexican abalone insets. Bound f-holes. Gold-plated Grover Roto-Matic machines. Gold-plated pick-ups and gold-plated Guild Bigsby Vibrato Tailpiece. Master volume. Sunburst or Blonde.
Starfire 12-String. Sunburst or Cherry-Red.
Starfire Bass SF-Bass II. New fast neck. Larger headpiece. 2 New Guild Humbucking Pick-Ups for tighter, harder sound. 30.5" scale. Master volume, selector switch, new tone switch, fully adjustable tailpiece. Sunburst or Cherry-Red.
SF-Bass I. Single Pick-Up. Sunburst or Cherry-Red.
SF-Bass I and SF-Bass II available with fretless fingerboard.
Examples of the Guild Starfire range appeared in all Guild catalogs from the 1960 launch through to the mid 1980s. Look at the catalogs featured below for a list of guitars featured within each.
Electric guitar advertisements originally published from 1963 onwards. Click on the images for larger copies. Check out other vintage Guild advertisements
Guild Starfire - Guild showcase for talent (1963)
Early 1963 Guild advertisement showcasing a number of instruments, each representing a segment of Guild's 1963 product line. The single cutaway Starfire III, archtop acoustic Stuart A-500, Mark II ...
Guild Starfire - Whatever Your Style of Playing You Will Ultimately Choose a Guild (1965)
UK advert for Guild guitars placed by British distributors Besson. Two guitars are shown, the Starfire V electric acoustic and a Guild acoustic flat top
Guild Starfire - Guild Quantum Bass Amplifier (1967)
Delivers that hard-driving, up-front, "Motown"-type sound - without going through the engineers control board
1967 add showing two members of the Blues Project; Steve Katz playing a Guild Starfi...
Guild Starfire - Big New Bird By Guild! (1968)
Late 1960s advertisement for the Guild SuperBird II 170 watt guitar/organ amplifier and Starfire V thinline electric acoustic guitar
Guild Starfire - New Thunderstar Amplifier By Guild (1969)
Late sixties advert for the new Guild Thunderstar amp. Also features a Guild Starfire V electric guitar.
Guild's recently developed high-projection speaker system gives you a bigger, cleaner sou...
Guild Starfire - Guitars Amplifiers Strings (1970)
Features the Starfire V guitar, the Starfire bass II, Thunderstar bass amp, and the F-47 Bluegrass flat top
Guild Starfire - Buddy Guy Blues Band (1970)
1970 Guitar Player advert featuring Buddy Guy's band - Buddy uses a Starfire SF IV through a Thunderbird guitar amp. The bass player uses a Starefire SF bass through a Quantum X amplifier
Guild Starfire - Guild Electrics. Are you trying to make it without one (1972)
Advert for the S-90, S-100 SF-V (starfire) and M75 Guild six strings
Guild Starfire - If you dont own at least one thin hollow-body electric, you should (1974)
Black and white advert for the Guild Starfire SF-4 six string guitar
Guild Starfire - Guild Starfire 4. Freedom Unlimited (1979)
A great looking Starfire 4 in Sunburst finish.
The way to go for the body style that gives you greatest control over today's many musical forms and demanding techniques. Starfire's thin, dou...
Guild Starfire - Buddy Guy and Guild (1979)
ELECTRIC BLUES BY BUDDY GUY - a pro's pro because he's done it all. The Road. Clubs. Concerts. Sessions. Always swinging with a Guild. Buddy's Guild gives back all the charged-up energy he pours in...
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