#1
I've had a Dearmond Starfire (335 config, but brighter, janglier pickups) for years, which I really liked. Then I got a gibson midtown (like a slightly larger, chambered les paul with f holes), which was obviously a big step up in 'quality', but doesn't really have the open, woody sound of a semi acoustic and is much more like a solid body. The Starfire is sounding a bit dull in comparison, though I tried putting some seth lover pickups in there, I'm not sure I discerned much of a change.

So now I'm in a quandary - the Gibson isn't quite what I'm after, but it would take something very cool for me to give it up.

I could sell one/both and buy another, what what is likely to impress me? I don't want to be spending more than the £800 I paid for the midtown.

I could carry on trying to mod the Starfire in the hope of getting some truly awesome pickups, but changing pickups on semis is such a paid in the arse, I want a reason to go through it.

Any wisdom to share?
#2
Do you want a hardtail or a trem?

Archtop or flat top?
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#3
Quote by dannyalcatraz
Do you want a hardtail or a trem?

Archtop or flat top?

Ideally I'd like a trem. I've put trems on both the Gibson and the Dearmond.
I'm not too fussed about archtop vs flat top. The Dearmond is arched and the Gibson is flat, though it feels a bit odd.

As for which route to go, as I've yet to find a suitably priced guitar that blows me away. I'm starting to think about putting some kick ass pickups in the Dearmond. Though I'm not sure I'll ever get it to sound like a 335.

Still open to other's wisdom, though.
#4
Reverend guitars makes or made some options in your price range that might suit you.
http://www.reverendguitars.com/category/guitar/

The Manta Ray, Club King, Tricky Gomez, Club King, Unknown Honson, Stu D. Baker and Reeves Gabrels Spacehawk are their current lineup of production semihollows. In the recent past, both Manta Rays and Club King lines had models available with Bigsbys; you'll still find some for sale with some Internet surfing. Based on your post, I'd look most closely at the Reverends with either P90 or RevTron mini-HB pickups. (I could be wrong, though- can you define the tone you seek a little more?)

Vintage & Modern is currently the only dealer in the UK, but there is always the option of going used, especially online.
http://www.vintageandmodernguitars.co.uk/reverendsetneckguitars.html
www.vintageandmodernguitars.co.uk/reverendboltonneckguitars.html


I would also look at the semihollow Hagstrom guitars, like the Tremar Deuce F, a good guitar that should be in your price range as well.
http://www.hagstromguitars.eu/index.php?option=com_zoo&task=item&item_id=1891&Itemid=36
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Sep 22, 2014,
#5
Also, telling us more about the tone you seek will improve the quality (and number) of suggestions about possible pickup mod options as well.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#6
I think I'm basically after the mellow, airy, woody sound of a 335 with vintage style, underwound pickups.

That's why the midtown, no matter how good, isn't quite doing it for me. But is a cheaper guitar (even with mods) that is closer to the configuration that I want, going to convince me to give up the midtown?

Is there a limit to how much you can improve a guitar with pickups and mods? Should I just work on modding the Starfire as it's already got the body type and configuration I'm after?
#7
As a practical matter, you reach a point of diminishing returns, so it is unlikely you can transform a cheap guitar into a tone clone of one much pricier. But you can get close. Of course, doing so can be almost as pricey as buying the guitar you're trying to copy.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#8
Although I do get your point, I'm not sure whether the Starfire is a cheap guitar (I know you weren't saying it is). 2nd hand prices £350-£400, so probably a bit more than the Hagstrom. I believe they're considered to be quite well built.

It's all maple, like the hagstrom viking, and the epiphone dot, which I believe gives it quite a bright sound. Epiphone Sheraton and Gibson 335 have mahogany necks and some other woods. Reverends are all Korina.

How much difference this makes to the final sound, I can't say, but the difference between a Gibson 335 and the Starfire seems to be 1. type of wood 2. Type of pickups 3. Overall quality, by which I mean the choice of wood cuts, and quality of construction, quality of pickups & general parts (pretty broad statement, I know).

I think what I'm getting at is the difference between specification & quality. How close can an all maple guitar, regardless how well built, sound to one with a mahogany neck and part maple body? Even with the same pickups?

I wouldn't say that I necessarily want or expect a less expensive guitar to sound exactly like a Gibbo 335, I'm just after the qualities of sounding woody, airy, mellow-ish, and sounding 'quality', whatever that means. The Midtown sounds 'quality', but doesn't have the other stuff. The Starfire is kinda airy, but lacking in the quality (whether it's the pickups or something else, I don't know).

Lunchtime rambling aside, I'll probably have another go at new pickups and electrics in the starfire, to give it the best fighting chance.