Duesenberg Guitars Starplayer TV by db9091
I purchased a lefty.
Color and Hardware:
This guitar was favored by Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers and Duesenberg made it his signature series. There are models with his signature on the nickel-plated pickguard, and models without. Some come with differing styles of jack plates, but I can't see any distinction of date, their application seems random.
The color derives from the Shelby Sloan racer Ford made in the late 50s and is very striking. You can find matching guitar straps from Couch in California (a small company making eco-friendly hand-made products)
The hardware is nickel plated, which will wear and age with time as intended by the company. Care is needed to maintain its pristine shine, or else it will get dull by design to look like old guitars. Each piece is crafted in an Art Deco style and looks fantastic, Chrome and some with Black paint. Think Empire State Building. They say on the website that it's evocative of the 40s and 50s. Maybe in Germany. But in America, Art Deco was a 1920s to 1930's style architecture most prominently displace as the Empire State Building and Chrysler building in NYC.
Pickups & Sound:
The pickups are a humbucker PAF in the bridge, a P90 in the Neck, a 3 way selector switch which chooses one of the PAF pickups in combination with the neck for the middle position. IF you do a 1950's Strat play with the selector, you can isolate a "2nd" position that is just the isolated PAF single coil. It's a thin tone, but at full volume it’s a fantastic, strat-like quacky tone that responds with lots of tonal variety on riding the volume knob. No one has ever reported this selection to my knowledge on the web. The Humbucker is pure rock-n-roll. The Middle is a fat blues or jazz tone. The P90 is a brighter blues/jazz tone. Full up volume is HUGE and often needs taming to be usable on some amps. Cleaner amps like a typical Fender Bluesman yields tones to die for. The humbucker works on any hard rocking amp. You can do any style but Metal. Huge tonal variety.
Tone-wise, this guitar sits between an LP and a Strat. This is often where the PRS is described. But while the PRS is versatile and good sounding, it doesn’t have the in your face character of the Duesenberg which writes books and signs them. It’s got that oft-wished for “character” of sounding like a guitar should. It records fantastically well with no need for EQ unless you are imparting a lot of bottom end from the P90. Live it sounds great on any amp, and makes a Roland Micro Cube running on 6 AA batteries sound as good as a Vox (well, until you plug it into the Vox!) Point is, it makes everything sound better.
There is the rumor these are made in Korea. IDK the facts. The first guitar I got certainly looked that way. Sloppy binding, paint on the binding, bubble on the clear coat, nickel pickguard had some tarnish on the edge, electronics were DOA for the middle position. I was like WTF?!? I paid $3k+ and THIS is what I get?!?
But the replacement was everything the first one wasn’t. I choke this up to either they don’t put as much care or have experience making left-handed guitars. Or else the QC person fell asleep on this one. The replacement binding was great, the electronics as they should be. There was one bubble on the clear coat at the edge. The hardware is fantastic and look beautiful.
So I would say, IF you get this guitar, look it over in good lighting and make sure it’s up to YOUR standards for purchasing an expensive guitar. I think this company can use some serious improvement in the Quality Control department.
The Bigsby keeps it’s tune no matter what you do to it. The PLEK job makes it so you can put the action as low as you want w/o buzzing. You fret out before you buzz. Freaky-cool. The Truss Rod adjusts like butter (I think they use 3 in there) The tuners turn like butter and tunes so incrementally nice. The nut was well done, no slots bigger than the strings for that weird ringing tone problem. The frets play super fast, bending on the rather flat neck is nice but not as easy as some guitars because it’s a rather long string length and they use 10-50 of such stiffness (think of how hard D’Addario is vs Slinky, this is another level or hardness above) but I CAN bend easier as I put the action low. As the action goes higher, the resistance allows me to dig in. So if you have a hard attack, this guitar can take your best bitch-slapping technique and smack you back! Anyone NOT liking the action on this guitar must be playing a harp or piano out it’s soundboard.
Of guitars I’ve owned, Fender Custom Shop, LP, MusicMan, PRS, Gretsch, Guild, etc, this stands second only to my Thorn for loving the action (and recorded tone w/o EQ fuss)
Bottom line, the inventions of design and hardware that allow for such playability is first rate. Anyone taking a dump on this guitar saying “it’s Korean made” has never played a Korean made guitar of this caliber. If that charge IS true, I’m thinking they are the next Japan! Because this guitar can stand toe-to-toe with a top of the line Gretch and steal it’s wallet clean.
Ok, nothing good to report here. I emailed them. No reply. Instead, they emailed the guitar shop I purchased it from. Uh, Hello, Duesenberg, but I bought this guitar, thank you. And when I email you about a Manufacturing Defect, the shop isn’t at fault. Not getting back to your customers? So not very cool. Grade: F
DuesenbergUSA, Grade F. I tried to buy nickel cleaner? Not in stock. Tried to buy Duesenberg strings? Not in stock. Uh, what the heck are you in business for if you don’t sell anything or answer your emails?!?
Buy the guitar, go through your dealer for any help, but this company doesn’t get back to you or care about your issues with their manufacturing defects.
Can be a great guitar IF you take a look at the teeth first. Sound fantastic if it’s not an electronically defective one. Is it worth $3k+? On tone, hardware, invention of staying in tune hardware, & action, I’d say easily “yes”.
Knowing what I know, if you can live w/o the racer paint, getting a cheaper regular Starplayer gives you the same exact guitar function and sound-wise. Plus if you get one used, you can get a deal for under $2k easily and at that price, it’s a steal.
Would you buy again?
I would, but I’d buy a regular black Starplayer TV and probably wait for a used one.
If this company gave more attention to it's customers directly, beefed up it's American presence with good stock and responsiveness, and upped it's Quality Control to not let defective guitars or ones with marred clear-coat bubbling out of the factory, it would be a model of perfection. Right now, it's a top notch guitar with mars on it's production line and poor Customer Relations in it's business model. I'd recommend getting consultation from a Quality Assurance agency and hire some PR folks from a top notch Business college.