Recorded in 1974, this incredible episode of the live concert television series Soundstage titled "Bonnie Raitt & Friends" also stars Buddy Guy and legendary blues singer/harmonica player Junior Wells.
“It’s real nice to be here in Chicago – the home of some of the finest blues in the world,” says Bonnie Raitt, addressing the WTTW Studios audience while the city’s premier blues guitarist prepares. “I’d like to give you the pleasure of hearing some of my fine friends and some of the finest blues musicians I know of (I’ve known since I was only 19 years old – and I had ways like a baby child!) My friends, the Buddy Guy and Junior Wells Blues Band!”
From the first notes Guy pulls out of his cherry finish semi-hollowbody the question in many a guitarist’s mind is: ‘That’s not a Gibson… What guitar is that?!’ And after hearing Guy’s sublime overdriven tones and learning that it is in fact a Guild Starfire IV, many have asked “Where can I get one?”
Though Guy is perhaps more widely known for playing a Fender Stratocaster, his endorsement deal with Guild in the ‘70s saw him appearing in advertisements and on stage with this often overlooked and highly underrated electric guitar.
Founded in New York in the early ‘50s and staffed by ex-Epiphone employees (following the company's relocation to Philadelphia) Guild launched the Starfire IV in 1963.
Sporting dual humbuckers with independent volume and tone knobs this double-cutaway thinline bears obvious similarities to the Gibson ES-335 released earlier in 1958.
While original examples can be found on the vintage market Guild currently price their Starfire IV at $1,600.
Later on in the show, Raitt takes to the stage to perform – her matchless voice complimented by a Gibson ES-175N. Costing $175 with a sunburst finish upon its release in 1949, this classic Florentine/sharp cutaway hollowbody electric archtop was a Gibson first.
Played by jazz greats such as Wes Montgomery and Pat Metheny, as well as rock guitarists like Steve Howe and Izzy Stradlin, the versatile 175 ultimately proved to be one of Gibson’s most enduring designs and was also available with dual pickups as the ES-175D (released in 1953).
The guitar Raitt is using in this film is a blond, single ‘dogear’ P-90 pickup ES-175N (‘N’ stands for Natural finish). With its cleaner, more rounded tone the sound is towards the other end of the spectrum compared to Guy’s hot, biting humbucker crunch. Yet both remain about the finest examples of blues guitar tone you could hope to hear.
Bonnie Raitt’s eponymous debut album is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Get a copy of this incredible landmark recording here.
Rod Brakes is a music writer with an expertise in all things guitar-related. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a journalist covering artists, industry pros, and gear includes writing hundreds of articles and features for the likes of Guitarist magazine, MusicRadar, and Guitar World, as well as contributions for specialist books and blogs. He is also a lifelong musician.
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