1966 Guild Starfire XII

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In the Summer of 1966, during the Beatles last U.S. tour, the Guild Guitar Company presented John Lennon with a custom made 12-string model, called the Starfire XII.
Guild was originally founded in 1952 by Alfred Dronge, a guitarist and music-store owner, and George Mann, a former executive with the Epiphone Guitar Company. Initially, the manufacturer focused on electric and acoustic arch top jazz models. Soon, Dronge took over complete ownership. The folk music craze in the early '60s shifted production to a line of acoustic folk and blues guitars. A notable model was their 12-string acoustic guitar, which produced a deep, rich tone distinctive from the chimier twelve-strings offered by competitors. As the 1960’s unfolded, Guild moved aggressively into the electric guitar market, successfully promoting their Starfire line of guitars and basses. In 1965, Guild put together a prototype electric 12-string based on an existing 6-string model. Perhaps in an effort to emulate Rickenbacker’s success, the following year the company decided to make a special custom, non-production, model to present to the Beatles. 
On August 23, 1966, at the end of a Beatles press conference in New York City, Mark Dronge (the founder’s son) presented the guitar to John Lennon. George Harrison originally thought the 12-string was meant for him and seemed slightly annoyed when it was presented to Lennon instead. Lennon seemed surprised and elated.
Lennon’s Guild had the following specs: 24 ¾” scale; Semi-hollow body: laminated maple top and back, and laminated mahogany sides; single bound top and back; Finish: Cherry red, nitrocellulose lacquer; Neck: 3-piece, set-in, mahogany & maple, black plastic headstock overlay with pearloid logo and Chesterfield inlay; Nut: Plastic; Fingerboard: Indian rosewood; Number of Frets: 22; Pick Guard: Black backed Lucite with gold trim; Bridge: Carved Rosewood on Rosewood base; Tailpiece: Guild harp style; Tuners: Waverly, open back; Pickups: 1950’s DeArmond Model 2000 with white covers; Controls: 2 Tone and 2 volume controls for each pickup, master volume control and 3-way pickup selector; Hardware: gold plated.
Although no documentation has yet been uncovered, Beatles aficionados maintain Lennon’s Starfire XII saw action during the 1967 Sgt. Pepper recording sessions. We also see the Guild 12-string in photos of Lennon taken in 1968. Lennon’s Starfire ended up in the possession of Tony Cox, Yoko Ono's first husband. Cox eventually sold the guitar to the Hard Rock Café in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Guild Starfire XII presented in our collection is identical to John Lennon’s guitar.
 John Lennon receives his 1966 Guild Starfire XII from Guild's Mark Dronge on August 23, 1966.
Lennon with the Guild Starfire XII in 1968.

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