When thinking of single cone resonator guitars, the Eastwood Airline Folkstar may not be a familiar name. Since 2001, Eastwood Guitars of Ontario, Canada has reproduced a number of discontinued retro classics from the 50s, 60s and 70s, unavailable for many years. Among them is the Folkstar.
The Folkstar doesn’t have an earthy blues vibe and its mojo doesn’t emanate from the Delta. Instead, the angled headstock, rubber body binding and thin profile evoke an air of vintage lighthearted fun for both player and listener.
Airline Guitars, a product line initially made in the United States by Valco, were discontinued in 1968 after a ten year run. Interestingly enough, the Valco website mentions the company’s lineage which can be traced back to the National brand name, the same celebrated American steel body resonator maker, National Resophonic, that’s still going strong today.
Some Unique Features
The Folkstar’s neck, 24-3/4″ with 20 frets, means only 15 frets clear the instrument shoulder, a somewhat odd number for a contemporary axe. The controls, volume- blend-tone, is also a throwback to vintage styling. The Folkstar uses a potentiometer so there is no switching option, but mixing pick-ups is part of the fun of playing one anyway. The rubber body binding also suggests a bygone guitar making era.
The Folkstar’s Serious Side
The tone chambered mahogany body, maple bolt-on neck, rosewood fingerboard and perforated resonator cover plate reveal a serious side to Eastwood’s amusing design that demands respect.
The Folkstar comes equipped with a NY Mini Humbucker in the neck, similar to the pick-ups used in the Gibson Firebirds of the 1960s, plus a piezo in the bridge. The midrange string capability of the NY Mini Humbucker comes in handy for slide players and anyone else who enjoys open tunings, while the piezo bridge pick-up contributes a semi-electric quality to the sustained resonator tones.
On its website, Eastwood Guitars states, “The original Folkstar resonator guitar did not have pick-ups; this modern professional model adds two pickups and a blend switch for versatile stage use.”
A Good Looking Guitar
The Folkstar, available in red or black, is a recognizable dreadnaught shape that has a thin body, smooth rounded lines and chrome hardware. The white headstock, standard with either color guitar, lends a naive playful element to its overall vintage appearance.
The suggested retail price of an Eastwood Airline Folkstar on the manufacturer’s website is $899, but a search on the same site found it selling for $699. So, be aware that at dealers and on the street it can probably go for less.