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Duesenberg Starplayer TV Review

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Duesenberg Starplayer TV Review

I wasn’t even really aware of Duesenberg guitars when I acquired the Starplayer TV. I’d seen a few write ups in magazines for other models but other than that my knowledge and experience of them was limited. How I came to own the guitar was a similar situation to how I came to own the MXR Carbon Copy – I walked into a guitar shop for a completely different reason and walked out with a stunning Duesenberg Starplayer TV in my hand!

One of my local guitar shops (Oasis Music, Ringwood) was selling an amplifier for me and after 4 weeks I returned to the shop to pick the amp up to try my best to sell it on eBay. I’m quite a fan of buying and selling on eBay, but the amp was just an item I really couldn’t be bothered to sell.

I mentioned this to the shop owners and they suggested we could do a deal with the Duesenberg. After about 30 minutes of playing the guitar (through a Peavey Classic 30) it was very obvious to me that this is a very fine instrument and I felt I was the victor in the “exchange deal” with the shop.


The review for this Starplayer TV is actually the hardtail version. The majority of Starplayer TV guitars that I’ve seen seem to have the tremolo arm fitted as standard and although I am a closet fan of tremolo arms, I’m more comfortable playing hardtail guitars.

The guitar features a semi-hollow body, 3 selector options for the pickups and a single volume and tone control. With regards to the pickups, there’s Duesenberg P90 in the neck and a vintage flavoured humbucker in the bridge. The middle position of of the pickup selector selects the P90 and the first coil of the humbucker.

Duesenberg Starplayer TV

My guitar is black and features the flamed maple back to the body and simply looks stunning. More features and sound clips can be found on the Duesenberg website.

Ease of use:

It’s so easy to play this guitar. I’ve recently had it serviced and set up by Robin at Absolute Music Solutions in Poole (he’s amazingly good!) and it’s never been better. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m traditionally a Fender Stratocaster player and I don’t have the transition problems with this guitar that I did with my Gibson SG. I feel very at home playing on the Duesenberg.

Sound quality:

This guitar for me excels in clean to mild and heavy overdrive (Blues/Rock) but not in hard rock/metal. I’m sure you could use the Duesenberg in those applications but it sounds so good with the gain backed off somewhat.

Unplugged, probably due to the semi-hollow body, the guitar has a vibrant acoustic ring – it sounds snappy and lively. Plugged in, the depth of sound is so refreshing. The P90 custom wound pickup has a unique voice of its own in my opinion – it doesn’t sound too similar to other P90’s I’ve heard. It’s difficult to describe, let’s just say the pickup has a vocal like quality to it. You can play smooth jazzy lines, clean arpeggios or really dig in to get a serious bluesy vibe going and in all cases it retains its unique Duesenberg vocal quality.

The humbucker is great too – it’s not too hot which is really nice as I can get some great overdrive lead lines going but still retain the clarity and definition of the notes. It’s a really good sounding pickup and combined with the semi-hollow body you can have a serious variety of tones available all at your fingertips.

The middle position is pure spank and if you’re a Fender fan you’ll feel right at home here. The versatility of the instrument is what really stands out with this guitar, from chord work to solos, the sound quality is really good.


Flamed Maple Back of the Duesenberg Starplayer TV
One of the aspects you will pick up on when playing the guitar is how well built it feels. The tuning pegs feel solid as do the volume/tone controls. The attention to detail with regards to the components and manufacturing of this guitar appears to be extremely high.

Overall rating:

I recently had this guitar for sale as my family were desperate for the cash. I was half way through a phone call with a guy who wanted to buy it and just prior to arranging a suitable time for him to pick up the guitar, I completely bottled it. This is such a fine instrument which not only plays well, but is so versatile and gives me joy every time I play it. Half way through the telephone conversation I was like “er… sorry mate… er, I can’t do it! I just can’t bring myself to sell it…”. Fortunately for me the potential buyer replied with an understanding “I think you’re doing the right thing!”.

I was watching the DVD “It Might Get Loud” recently where The Edge was saying how his old Gibson Explorer “had songs in it”. This is exactly how I feel about this guitar – when I play it, I find myself trying new chord shapes, lead lines and riffs and I find myself jamming away for hours.

I would say the Duesenberg Starplayer TV has its own unique voicing and tone. Due to the versatility and great sound it’s definitely a guitar that I could use throughout an entire performance and is probably going to be the guitar I use for the majority of future recordings.

A fantastic instrument, albeit a bit pricey but I personally think it’s worth every penny and you won’t be disappointed.

Update – December 6th 2010: I recently discovered who previously owned this Starplayer TV. It turns out it was owned by Sean Tyla, of “Tyla Gang” fame. Sean had a successful spell in the music industry during the late 70’s and has recently made a comeback and can still be seen with a Duesenberg slung over his shoulder!

For information about Duesenberg Guitars visit: www.duesenberg.de

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About the author:

Sam is passionate about talking all things guitar related and started GuitarJar.co.uk to help encourage all guitarists in their guitar playing journey.

1 Comment

  • I have nothing to add to this review. I completely agree.

    For those into Bigsby tremolo arms (I have an old Gretsch with one), the Duesenberg version is a kind of an improved version (with no detuning at all).
    And to add a little “high ends/clarity/fender single coil feelings” to your sound, the TV+ model comes with an additional piezo.

    Wonderful guitars !!!

    My favorite (not so) vintage clean sound : Starplayer TV in neck pickup position (this P90-style is so great) > Celmo Sardine Can Compressor > Tech 21 Character Series Leeds > Vox AC15.

    I plan to buy an all P90 model (the Duesenberg guy on Facebook told me that I can ask that for any model). This pickup is the best thing I’ve ever heard on a guitar.

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