I shopped long and hard for the perfect guitar and I think I found it. It suits my many moods and interests in music. It's beautiful to look and, wonderful to hold and never grates on the ear. The quality of the workmanship is superior to the Gretches I sampled and Starfires go for about $500 less. I played a couple of really great Gibsons, but the Gibson archtops I saw didn't have trems, but the primary problem with Gibsons is price. Guilds are about half the price and in the same league quality wise. (I've since seen a Chet Atkins model Gibson with a trem (a remake of the Tennessean, I believe), but it's well out of my price range.) I was halfway tempted to get the DeArmond Starfire III for about $400 less, but I wanted to be sure of getting the best guitar I could. With Guild, I get a great warranty (I plan on owning this for the rest of my life), a USA-made instrument and a great brand name on the head stock.
Model Year: 2000
Price: $1250.00 (new)
Where Obtained: Instrumental Music, Ventura, CA.
Guilds are made in the USA. Lifetime warranty (for the original owner of the guitar).
This instrument feels just very comfortable to me. I can move around the fretboard with ease and the bridge and pickguard set up is perfectly positioned when I need to rest/anchor my right hand. I'm using .11 nickle-plated strings and I have no trouble doing bends. For normal trem use and bends, the tuning is rock solid. More exaggrated trem use does get it out of tune.
One reason I picked this guitar is that it gave me such a nice range of sounds. I can get a gritty, vintage blues sound, a country twang, a rockabilly punch or a good garage rock grunge. It's very versitile. When I play it with a clean sound, the lows tend to be mellow and warm while the highs are sharp and pointed. That contrast may not be for every one. I find I can build solos that use the contrast to an advantage. Unplugged, it has a nice smooth acoustic sound. I often practice unplugged so that I don't disturb the rest of the household, so I'm glad I found an instrument that holds up well acoustically. I think it would also work well with jazz, but that isn't an interest of mine.
I haven't found a flaw in workmanship yet. It's got such a wonderful finish, I would hate to expose it to the riggers of the road, but it does come in a great, quality hardshell case. I don't think normal wear and tear would cause the Starfire to become unplayable for a working musician.