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Guild reveals signature Byrds bass

Ronnie Dungan • MMR Global • July 8, 2015

Resurgent Guild Guitars has unveiled two new bass guitars at Summer NAMM, including a signature model from Byrds bassist, Chris Hillman. 

The Signature Byrds Bass is based on the original Guild Starfire Bass used by Hillman on recordings like Turn, Turn, Turn, Eight Miles High, and The Times They Are A-Changing. It features a semi-hollow all- maple body, rosewood fingerboard, three piece mahogany neck, and single BS-1 BiSonic pickup. 

“I didn’t think you needed two pickups for what I did, [and] I never thought you needed more than four strings,” Hillman said during a recent visit to Guild’s new California headquarters. 

Chris Middaugh, a former associate at Guild, had begun the initial concept of the reissue as a Guild Starfire I Bass, but the project changed course with the involvement of two key players in Hillman’s circle. Tracy Longo, longtime luthier to Hillman, assisted as a liaison to the factory. John Jorgenson, a former bandmate and frequent collaborator of Hillman’s, was integral to the engineering and refinement of the instrument’s custom tone circuit. 

Another feature that was integral to Hillman’s sound was the use of flatwound strings, which were the industry standard at the time, and remain Hillman’s preferred choice for their mellow, smooth tone. The Byrds Bass features the Byrds’ logo inlaid in the 12th fret, Hillman’s signature on the truss rod cover, and a vintage sunburst finish that matches his original. Every bass includes a hardshell case, and a numbered certificate of authenticity personally signed by Chris Hillman. “I loved playing the stuff we did in the Byrds,” Hillman said. “It was a good band. I was lucky to be in it.” 

The price is around $1,499.99 (£974; €1358)

The firm has also unveiled the Starfire Bass II, a dual-pickup semi-hollow bass. 

It originally debuted in 1967, shortly after the single-pickup version, and quickly garnered a following that included Jack Casady (Jefferson Airplane) and Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead). The addition of the neck pickup on the Starfire Bass II gives bassists a warmer, smooth sound for added tonal flexibility. 

The double cutaway guitar features an arched laminate mahogany top and back, and mahogany sides, dual Guild BS-1 BiSonic pickups, individual volume, tone, and master volume knobs, and a pickup selector switch.

It retails at around $1299.99 (£844; €1,177).

 

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