Starfire 12-String Bass

The Starfire brand 12-string basses first appeared in October of 2006. They were initially sold in the black finish with two burst finishes becoming available in 2007. The Starfire was the first production 12-string bass to be strung through the body. It was also the first to incorporate a rosewood bridge. The Starfire has two passive humbucker pickups, a semi-hollow single-bound body and an F-hole.

Starfire 12's are one of the least expensive 12-string basses to hit the market and can often be purchased for about $200.00. As shown below there are reasons for the low price. It may require a modification to anchor the strings and also a replacement bridge and nut to get them playable.

The Starfire 12-String Bass in the Black finish appeared first in late 2006.

The Sunburst finish appeared in March of 2007 and the Tobacco Sunburst finish appeared in late 2007.


While burst finishes typically have a darker border of the same width all around the body, on the Sunburst finish basses apparently the person applying the red color didn't understand this concept. The golden color is shaped like a guitar pick with the red filling in the upper bout including the area underneath the pick guard. In contrast, the burst finish on the Tobacco Sunburst 12's is normal.


The Starfire 12-string basses have bolt-on necks.


The bridge on this bass is close to the control knob; with the bridge in this location the bass is 34" scale. The strings run through ferrules.

Rather than having ferrules on the back to anchor the strings, the ball ends are found in a cavity with a length of braided ground wire running through all of the ball ends. Attempting to tune a string will change the tension on the wire which will affect the tuning of all of the other strings. While it may be possible to eventually get the bass properly in tune, breaking a string will cause all other strings to go out of tune. Then to change a string it will be necessary to loosen the tension on other strings so that the anchor wire can be removed from the broken string and run through the new string. A nightmare!

Note the difference in the position of the bridge on this bass - it is located about an inch closer to the tail of the bass, consequently this bass has a 35" scale. The spacing between the bridge and the string ferrules has remained the same, presumably a template was used, however ...

... the position of the cavity on the back was unchanged so six string holes cut into the cavity wall. There is no doubt that the tension placed on the strings due to tuning will cut the holes larger on one side. While a thin piece of steel with holes drilled in it positioned on the cavity floor could be used to replace the anchor wire, the cavity might have to be modified or expanded to position the steel if the holes are cut into the walls as shown here.

The top of the bass is plywood. There is no binding on the f-hole and the cavity is unpainted.

 

Raised pick guard

 

Control cavity - complete with a generous helping of sawdust.


The nut is made of low-quality rosewood which breaks easily as this one has as shown on the left.


Although the eBay seller's description stated these basses have "adjustable" bridges, the adjustment is limited to a height adjustment that will only raise the action. The bridge is rosewood with slots cut for the strings rather than having metal string saddles. This type of bridge is usually only found on the cheapest acoustic guitars and offers no possibility of properly tuning the harmonics. The strings are likely to eat into the wood at varying rates depending upon the string gauge and how much certain strings are played which will result in uneven string heights above the frets.


Specs:
Bound semi-hollow body with F-hole
Maple bolt-on neck, 20 frets, 34" to 35" long scale
Rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays, rosewood bridge and nut
Single truss rod
Raised white pick guard
Passive electronics, two humbucker pickups; two volume controls, two tone controls
Strung through the body
Chrome hardware
Weight 11 pounds
Made in China


Even the Starfire logo positioning varies; sometimes it is properly aligned, sometimes it slopes up or down.