This company seriously impressed me with their superb Jetstar, will their newest hollowbody do the same?
Check out my “60 Second Guitar Review” of this wonderful Guild for Ultimate-Guitar.com!
Overview & Final Score: 7.8
Guild Guitars has made quite the comeback in recent years, thanks mainly to their Newark St line of guitars. The brand new Starfire I series of guitars slots right into the Newark St line, adding some exciting hollowbody options like the Starfire I SC in Seafoam Green I was sent on loan. This is a single cut, hollowbody guitar with a small solid black underneath the bridge. The Arched Maple back, sides, and top sport classy Ivory binding along the top and bottom of the guitar. A Maple neck holds an Indian Rosewood fretboard with 20 narrow tall frets, and a 24.75″ scale length. Guild’s Starfire I SC has a unique, “modern U” neck, that feels super fast and comfy, despite the vintage appearance. Two of Guild’s phenomenal HB-2 humbuckers each hold their own master volume and tone controls, as well as a push-pull coil split. Rounding out the nice feature list is Guild’s own take on the Bigsby, their Aluminum Vibrato Tailpiece that holds the strings opposite their Vintage 18 Open Gear Tuners.
Even though the Starfire I SC is sporting my absolute favorite pair of Guild pickups, the sound doesn’s stack up to the Jetstar’s tone. And that’s okay, as they are vastly different instruments after all. On this hollowbody single cut, the pickups have a lot more sparkle and snap to them, but it comes at the cost of resonance in my opinion. The versatility was still pretty impressive, and I enjoyed jumping around the 3-way selector switch. The middle position gave a glassy, snappy, beautiful tone for fingerpicking songs in the jazz/pop/singer-songwriter area of the musical realm. With my Pro Co Rat layered on top, the bridge really opened up into that Green Day and Rancid territory of punk rock where many single cut hollowbodies have shined.
If you really crank up the distortion and volume, you do start to get that feedback and buzz you’d expect from a hollowbody. However, it was never unusable or offensive, making it a solid option for live gigging or recording nonetheless. The neck also had a quite nice, bluesy flavor to it, with warm, full tones pouring out that had me playing all sort of Frusciante-style riffs and chords. Versatility is the name of the game here with above average tones that are closer to really good “jack of all trades, master of none” territory.
My biggest knock on the wonderful Guild Starfire I SC is the tuning stability. It’s just not great and the tuners feel a bit cheap. I’m not sure if it is the exact same hardware as on my Jetstar, but it seems to be missing that rock solid tuning stability, even when I don’t use the Bigsby. It’s not too bad, and is definitively useable for gigging musicians, I just think I was expecting more from it. However, this Starfire I’s neck is very comfortable, with solid finish work that never feels too sticky. Fretwork was fairly impressive as well, with the narrow tall frets actually feeling much better than their name implies. That’s usually how people describe old Mosrite-style guitars which weren’t exactly loved for their style of frets. However, this is a player’s guitars through and through. While the lack of a 22nd or 24th fret may bother some more adventurous players, I honestly didn’t notice that it only had 20 frets. This Guild Starfire I SC fits right into the wheelhouse of players looking for more rhythm-guitar type performance and will be incredibly reliable in that role.
Finish & Construction: 8
Seafoam green is one of my favorite colors for guitars, and Guild nailed it here just as they did on the Jetstar. The finish was well done, with no major flaws or errors. All I could really notice was some tooling marks or some type of small cuts along the finish in the interior of the f holes. Construction and overall build quality also felt sturdy and reliable, especially for the price. It certainly doesn’t feel like a premium instrument, based on the thicker finish with a little bit of stickiness. But the hardware is all well adjusted and feels solid, certainly gig ready. Guild’s own take on the Bigsby, the Aluminum Vibrato Tailpiece also seems like a very well made alternative to the always pricey brand name wiggle stick. Personally, this would be a great gigging instrument in my opinion thanks to the price, unique looks, and above average performance across all fields.
Overall, Guild has really done a great job in the value department once again. I’ve also seen these go for about $499 despite these being marked by Guild as $599, but either price is worth every penny. Especially considering this is approaching a beginner-level price point, you get a ton of guitar with enough quirks to inspire you as your playing evolves. Single cut hollowbodies also aren’t as prevalent at this price point either, which makes this an extra enticing option! It feels above average, sounds above average, and makes me want to pick it up and play. That all equates to great value in my book, and I’m very sad to see this guitar go back home.