1969 Guild Starfire II


Aside from Jet Star and M-85 basses, Guild produced a few near-copies of Gibson bass models. This included the EB-0/3/4-based JS series and the EB-2-based Starfire series. The Starfire Bass debuted in 1965 with a single pickup in the bridge position, but within a year the pickup moved toward the neck. The pickups were usually Hagstrom-built units called Bi-Sonics, though occasionally other Hagstrom single-coils were used. In 1967 Guild introduced the Starfire II, which was fitted with a pair of Bi-Sonics until 1970 when Guild introduced a bass version of their HB-1 humbucker.

Like the Gibson EB-2, the Starfire basses had thinline, semi-hollow bodies and short 30.5” scales. While they all carried mahogany necks, the body materials varied by finish; sunburst and natural specimens were built of laminated maple, while most other finishes were applied over laminated mahogany. The result is that the color actually did make a perceptible difference in tone. Fewer maple bodies were built than mahogany, as the majority of Starfires were finished in cherry red.

Also like the EB-2, Guild added some unusual circuitry to the basses. While both pickups ran through conventional volume and tone controls, the neck pickup also ran through a filter selector switch. Rreferred to in the 1968 catalog as a “bass boost”, the switch actually selected either a very bassy tone or a very bright tone; there were no “conventional” sounds to be had out of the neck pickup alone. However, when blended with the bridge pickup, the resulting sound covered a wide frequency range and introduced a variety of useful tones.

My bass dates from 1969, and like other sunburst Starfires it has a maple body. The pickups are both Bi-Sonics; the 1968 catalog states that “Guild’s Anti-Hum Pick Ups were especially adapted for this instrument”, but in fact that wouldn’t happen until 1970. These are single-coil pickups, though they are fairly quiet as non-hum-cancelling pickups go. The instrument is entirely original.