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Starforce Guitar


END OPENING CREDITS. Fade out music. Dateline 2500AD. Weather fine. Pan to Mission Control, Houston, Texas. Three minutes before the world's fastest-ever space rocket is due to take off, alien saboteurs board the craft and begin tampering with the life support systems. The four-man crew, unaware of what is happening beneath the spacious cockpit, smile casually at each other as the countdown begins.

Two-and-a-half minutes later, the saboteurs are seen to leave the rocket through an emergency hatch, and within seconds, the craft sheds its supporting gantry and lifts off. As it leaves the Earth's atmosphere, the Captain sees all is not well with his instrument readings. Radio message to Mission Control: "Mayday! Mayday!" But there's nothing anybody down there can do about it - except maybe call... International Rescue!

At the Thunderbirds HQ, Scott Tracy is flicking through a copy of Exchange & Mart, while brother Virgil is strumming what looks like a Fender Stratocaster guitar. The call comes in from Houston, and Scott immediately throws his paper aside and flies off to the Thunderbird I departure bay. But Virgil seems strangely unhurried - he can't seem to put his guitar down. What is this extraordinary sci-fi instrument, so smart and so playable that it could stand between Virgil Tracy and saving four innocent lives?

Well, it's not a Strat - though like so many instruments in its price range, its body design owes a lot to the basic Strat shape. Nope, this is something much sharper: a Starforce guitar, with a feel and an identity all its own. Made from multiple laminations (plywood?), it has a very solid feel, and as well as the usual contouring, the edges of both front and back have been lightly chamfered, adding a touch of class to the appearance.

Virgil decides to take a closer look. The rear of the body houses the tremolo springs, hidden by a well-finished plastic plate. Alongside sits the access plate for the controls, which consist of a five-way selector switch and three rotary pots - one for volume, two for tone.

Three so-called "Skorcherz" pickups are fitted, two single-coil and a bridge-position humbucker. These are all adjustable for height, and the humbucker also has adjustment for its angle in relation to the strings.

There's no logo or model number on the fulcrum-type tremolo, so it can't be given a name check; pity, really, because it works well, and it'd be nice to know if you could get it as an add-on.

The neck is made from maple, the fingerboard from rosewood. The inlays depict stars and satellites - very much Virgil's style but, unfortunately, they don't have the same quality of finish as the rest of the guitar.

Four bolts fitted through a black metal plate join the neck to the body at the 17th of 22 frets, and a good tight fit it is, too - no movement, no horrible gaps between neck and body, and no loss of sustain. Allen bolts lock the strings in pairs behind the nut, and the truss rod adjuster is located underneath. Machineheads are "Palmer" adjustable and, like the rest of the hardware on the Starforce, finished in black - Virgil's favourite colour. Finally, there's a pair of Allen keys clamped to the back of the headstock, one for the string lock and the other to adjust the height of the bridge saddles.

This is not an expensive guitar. With the Thunderbird 4 refurbishment sapping IR's cash reserves and Lady Penelope's Pink Roller in for yet another service, Virgil has had no choice but to tighten his belt and buy budget. But acoustically, the Starforce certainly doesn't sound budget. This is important, because on an electric guitar, the function of the pickups is to amplify the sound of the strings. So if the instrument's construction produces a good, loud tone with bags of natural sustain, you've got the makings of a good electric guitar - regardless of price. Normally budget instruments sound gutless and flat without amplification, but not so the Starforce - bags of sustain, a comfortable neck, good balance.

Virgil pauses to reflect that the setting-up on this guitar is not too hot, but a bit of time spent on adjusting the action, the intonation and the pickups soon reveals a whole new ball game.

As for the pickups, there's nothing surprising there. They work well but seem to suffer from a lack of bottom end, making them sound very sharp and bright - OK for the single-coils but the humbucker could be fatter. The selector switch is a bit stiff, but Virgil reasons that's better than having one that rattles about. The tremolo tension springs need a bit of tightening for more feel, but the controls work well, and the Starforce does a good job of staying in tune - more than a lot of cheap guitars (and not-so-cheap guitars) can do.

Virgil picks up his brother's discarded Exchange & Mart and realises he'll need to spend a lot more money to get a guitar that's as well finished, and plays as well, as this one. "No strings attached", he muses.

STARFORCE 8007 GUITAR: £155 inc VAT

INFO: Barnes & Mullins, (Contact Details)



Previous Article in this issue

From Beat Dis Boy To Mega-Blast Man

Next article in this issue

Philips PMC100 Composer


Phaze 1 - Copyright: Phaze 1 Publishing

 

Phaze 1 - Nov 1988

Review

Gear in this article:

Guitar > Starforce > 8007


Gear Tags:

Electric Guitar

Review by Eddie Allen

Previous article in this issue:

> From Beat Dis Boy To Mega-Bl...

Next article in this issue:

> Philips PMC100 Composer


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