Tony Dwyer's Guitars

1993 Gibson Starburst Elite

22 September 2015

I bought this guitar from Colorado USA in August 2007. I sold it to a young singer / songwriter in Derbyshire UK in November 2009. You can see her play this guitar in the video on her web site. This is one guitar that I really regret selling because it was just so beautiful and unique.

According to Gibson, it was made in Bozeman Montana on the 28th of January 1993 and was number 9 in the production run. The model was offered as part of the normal production only in 1993. They declined to say how many were made but I believe it was only a couple of hundred, maybe less. According to the spec sheet from Gibson, the Elite model came in 3 colours - Antique Natural, Amber, and Vintage Sunburst.

Gibson Starburst Elite top with bridge

Unusually for an acoustic guitar, the whole body is made of highly figured maple. This makes it look spectacular, but makes the acoustic sound fairly bright - not at all like the boomy big sound that Gibsons are known for. However I found that this actually works in its favour when playing live. It is very feedback resistant and you don't get the low frequency drone of the lower strings. It has a very bright clean and crisp sound through a PA.

Note the Mother of Pearl star inlays - there are over 30 of them on this guitar - on the headstock, fingerboard and bridge.

Gibson Starburst Elite back

The Starburst came in a standard model - with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge, no binding on the neck or headstock, and no centre strip on the back - and the much rarer Elite model with binding on everything and ebony everywhere.

My one came in a brown alligator pattern case with a padded blanket to cover the guitar, as you can see from some of the photos on the lower right.

Gibson Starburst Elite back of neck showing flamed pattern

The following ad for a Cherry 1992 Starburst standard appeared on ebay UK in September 2008. It sold for £899 and its photo appears below the ad. I can't vouch for the accuracy of the text but it seems credible:

In 1992, as part of its Limited Editions Series, Gibson produced the Gibson Star and its more elaborate stablemate - the Gibson Starburst. The Starburst was produced for one year only (1992) and is very rarely seen offered for sale - even in the US.
In 1993 Gibson went on to produce the Starburst Studio (see bottom of page), Starburst Standard (see a bit further down) and the ultra rare Starburst Elite (see my old one above and on the right).
The Starburst usually has a solid figured maple body and neck and a flamed maple top. Quilted maple was usually reserved for the Starburst Elite (only a handful made)...

Cherry Starburst
The cherry one in the ad above

Other Starburst guitar models were made in some truly horrendous colours - have a look at the pics of the Starburst Standard models below.

A purple Standard, identical to the one below on the right, was advertised on ebay in June 2009 for a Buy It Now price of US$1199 (AU$1475 at the time) - and sold for US$900.

Below is a Starburst Studio model advertised on ebay in November 2009 - a much more budget model. The top looks like spruce, there are a lot less inlays, and it looked like the back may have been arched (but it might have been a trick of the light in the photos). It went for US$900.

Starburst Studio pegheadStarbusrts Studio fingerboard

Starburst Studio top