My new Duesenberg Starplayer TV (review)

gtrfinder

Silver Supporting Member
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3,645
OK my new Duesenberg Starplayer TV arrived last night.
I'll put some pictures of my own up later, but this is the one I got.
http://www.themusiczoo.com/Duesenberg_Starplayer_TV_Black_075442.html

I didn't get a chance to play around with it that much, but here are some of my first impressions:

I'll preface this by saying that I've always wanted a good Gretsch guitar, but I've never found one that I've really liked. I always attributed it to the scale length and the construction on the ones I've played. Additionally I've also always admired some of the 60's records that were made with the unique and jangly guitars of that era (Gretsch, DeArmond, Hofner, etc...)When I found out about Duesenberg guitars I thought that they might be just the ticket for me to get some of those cool old tones and vibe.

Onto the review:

1) The guitar is beautiful. Very classy looking, but at the same time kind of funky. I've heard it described as "art-deco" and I'd agree that this is a close approximation. It has some of my favorite aesthetics from Gretsch guitars, but with its own unique style. Beautiful flamed back and nice double binding.

2) The guitar is heavier than I expected. I have not weighed it, but I'd guess around 8 pounds or so. Perhaps I thought that being semi-hollow it would be closer to some ES-335's I've played. In actuality it is much more like a good Les-Paul, which it's shape approximates. It is not uncomfortable to play while seated, and hangs well on a strap, no neck or body dive. Well balanced.

3) I've heard some reviews here that describe these guitars as feeling "cheap" or "toy-like". I didn't get that impression at all. Everything was solid and tight. All of the hardware (Duesenberg designed) feels great. The volume and tone knobs have a smooth turn and don't give. The pickup selector switch practically jumps into place, with no crackle or popping, either. The tuning keys are very smooth. For some reason i'm always a little nervous when tuning up a guitar for the first time, like I have to take extra care or I'm going to break it or something. I tuned this up in about 60 seconds or so and it stayed there. The tremolo system is very nice. Really smooth and expressive, and the guitar seems to return in tune without a problem. It is no floyd rose, but works just as well as most of the Strat-trems I've used. Strap buttons seem solid.

4) Sounds fine to me unplugged. A little livelier than most Les Paul's I've strummed acoustically, but not as loud as a 335 or equivalent. Having the F hole on the upper portion of the body only probably attributes to this. The scale length continues to suprise me. I love Fender scale instruments, but I guess I keep expecting this guitar (based on its look) to feel like a Gibson or a Gretsch. It doesn't, it feels like a strat neck with the back carve of a good Les Paul. Not thin, but not gigantic either. It is a good suprise for me, but may not be for everyone.

5) Plugged in (to my 65 Amps London) I was suprised at the output of the pickups. The bridge humbucker is loud and bright. Louder than most PAF style humbuckers, but not crazy like an extreme overwound pickup. While it seems to have alot of output it still remains relatively clear and crisp until you goose the amp. The neck P90 seems very nice for some old-school blues and or jazz (BB King, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, and the like). It is a little darker sounding and has alot of wooliness to it. Reminds me of an old DeArmond style pickup for some reason. Not as much output as the bridge, but still louder than I expected. The middle position has a unique sound, that I'm not used to yet. It doesn't sound like the middle position of any 2 pickup guitar I've ever heard before. Not like a Tele or a Les Paul. It definetely makes me think "out of phase". Not that it is a bad sound, but it got a little mushy when I had some distortion going. It sounds nice and funky when the amp is clean though. I'm going to need to take some time and re-dial in my amp and pedals for this guitar.


The guitar is a combination of some of the best things I love from Gretsch, Gibson, and Fender-style instruments. It looks like a Gretsch, feels like Gibson, and plays like a Fender. All in all a good purchase I think.
I'll post some more thoughts and some pictures as I have a chance to play it some more, but for now it seems I'll enjoy playing it very much.

Let me know if you have any questions.
Aaron
 

hbentley

Member
Messages
1,355
she's pretty! the duesenbergs i've played have all felt and sounded really nice too.
 

JingleJungle

Member
Messages
1,401
You missed the part of the tone control...

It has a detent in the middle of it's excursion.
Turn it right (looking from your reg. playing pos'n) and you're cutting treble, but turn it left and - aha! - you're adding the mid pickup to whatever position you're in. In the middle position this menas all 3 p.ups are on at the same time.

I suspect I know who is responsible for the pickups, but I need to quizz him before I spill the beans ;)

BTW and FWIW I'm playing w/ a Starplayer (tobacco 'burst) I've just purch'd for a friend of mine. Amazing thang she is!!!

JJ
 

Strat

Supporting Member
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3,853
I have an original European Version and there is quite a difference between those and what was eventually made for the USA market which are close but like a MIJ to a USA fender. Still good players but I keep wanting to swap out the humbucker for a something else...
 

gtrfinder

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,645
I have an original European Version and there is quite a difference between those and what was eventually made for the USA market which are close but like a MIJ to a USA fender. Still good players but I keep wanting to swap out the humbucker for a something else...
It is my understanding that Dieter from Duesenberg designed and sold a line of guitars to Sam Ash Music sometime in the 90's. They were still Duesenbergs, but had bolt on instead of set necks, some different colors, etc...
Before purchasing my guitar I saw a used one for sale in the UK, but decided against it after talking with Nathan from Duesenberg USA. Besides the extra customs fees (which would have probably negated any savings from buying used) I am able to take advantage of registering my instrument and the limited lifetime warranty on it.
 

buchla300

Supporting Member
Messages
1,420
The Duesenberg Carl Carlton is a fabulous guitar too. I like their pickups especially the P90's
 

gtrfinder

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,645
Played around with the Doozy some more. Adjusted the pickup height by bringing the humbucker down a bit and raising the treble side of the P90. It seems to balance really well now, both in terms of output and the middle position. Duesenberg puts an additional height adjustment screw in the middle of the pickup rings so that you can mess with the pickup slope as well as angle. Cool.
I also found you can wedge the pickup selector in between the in-between or center position. I stuck it right about where position 2 would be on a stratocaster (counting the bridge as position 1), and got a really unexpected suprise. It sounds really close to the Peter Green out of phase sound. It was almost a dead ringer for Fleetwood Mac's "Long Grey Mare" lead tone.
Really having fun playing around with my amp and seeing how it reacts at different volume levels to the Starplayer. Using the bridge humbucker and the EF86 side with boost on I can get very controllable feedback with the volume on about 4 or 5.

Pics by this weekend. I promise.
 

gtrfinder

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,645
Pics Added







All of my friends...


I really wanted to get a great picture of the flamed back, but I just could not get a better one than the one that was on The Music Zoo's website

 

Roe

Member
Messages
7,744
I got a DTV from ebay.de. am quite satisfied. the guitar seems to be fine
 
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The Captain

Member
Messages
12,446
There is one of those in the Ice Pearl near me, gorgeous thing to hold and play, but very expensive here, over $4K. It's not goign anywhere though, I'll get a below cost price before the year is out.
 

WayneM

Member
Messages
1,592
Great review and enjoy that guitar.

I have the Mike Cambell version and I really like it.

 

MartinC

Member
Messages
2,978
It looks like a Gretsch, feels like Gibson, and plays like a Fender.
Sounds like some therapy required there! :D

Just kidding ... beautiful looking guitar. I've had a bash on one of these and liked it a lot. Can't remember playing another hollowbody that I liked more in fact.

Congratulations!

Cream would be my pick ... but the black's nice too.
 




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