1966 Guild Starfire XII


In the mid 1960s, the 12-string electric guitar rocketed to prominence for a brief period and then faded into obscurity almost as quickly. Between 1965 and 1966, most major rock groups utilized the instrument’s signature jangle on their recordings. The instrument’s biggest proponents, George Harrison and Roger McGuinn, both played Rickenbackers (as did many others), but 12-string electrics were offered by Vox, Fender, Gibson, Kapa, Valco and Ovation, to name just a few.

Guild jumped on the bandwagon as well, introducing the Starfire XII in 1966. The company was already familiar with the 12-string concept, having introduced the acoustic F-212 in 1964, though it would be a few more years until Guild dominated the acoustic 12-string market. Essentially a 12-string version of the Starfire IV, the Starfire XII featured a double-cutaway body with a center block running down the middle. Just as the IV was clearly inspired by the Gibson ES-335, the XII was Guild’s version of the ES-335-12, introduced the year before. In typical Guild fashion, the body material changed depending on the finish: cherry and red-burst guitars were made of mahogany, while natural, ebony, emerald and sunburst guitars were made of maple.

Like the Starfires IV and V, the XII underwent a structural change in 1967. Earlier versions had the neck set at the 16th fret, but in that year the neck joint was moved to the 18th fret. This was done to increase access to the uppermost frets, but it also effectively moved the pickups closer together. The neck pickup was subsequently closer to the bridge, giving it a brighter sound. Like the Starfire IV, the XII was given larger HB-1 pickups in 1970 and a master volume in 1972; however, since few of this model were produced after 1967, these later variants are quite rare.

This particular guitar is typical of an example from 1966, with neck set at the 16th fret and a gold border around the pickguard. The original rosewood bridge saddle has been replaced with a tune-o-matic style, something very common on these guitars because it allows for more accurate intonation. Everything else remains original, including the hard shell case.