1998 Starfire III-90

Maker: Guild Guitar Company

Bought From: Ebay

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 in 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. Since the serial number denotes a year of manufacture later than 1997, and since prdocution 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 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.