The D&A Guitar Gear STARFISH and STARFISH+ Sturdy Gurdy Instrument Stands Review
I’m a musician and a professional recording artist, as well as a guitar and bass gear enthusiast. Needless to say, instrument stands have been a staple of my life for as long as I’ve been actively playing guitars, basses, dulcimers, mandos, and more. When one is first starting out, often it is a bit extra money to go ahead and get a stand with one’s early/first purchases. We often skimp on cases and stands because we’re focused on the expense of one’s first instruments. With that said, if we continue past the beginner’s stage with our instruments, we find that certain accessories really become requirements. Stands are no exception. One only has to snap the neck on a guitar once to get an idea that leaning the guitar against an amp or on the couch/bed/chair is not the greatest idea we’ve had. Cases become important for storage purposes, but stands serve a far more daily important use.
As a recording and performing professional, stands serve three primary purposes in my world: someplace (hopefully safe) to place/hang the guitar while I use the computer, the rack gear, or walk away from the recording desk/jamming rug for a few minutes; a very convenient place to leave out my “current” guitars out of their cases so I’m inspired to pick them up and play them whenever I get a spare moment; and an easy-access place to arrange my instruments when I’m doing a gig ( I don’t currently gig often, but this is still a consideration).
For me as an individual, I see two kinds of stands – the basic tubed variety, and the “sturdy stand.” I used the inexpensive foam-covered tubular metal stands (often selling between $9.99 and $19.99) very early on in my career as my primary stand because they were first and foremost affordable. I used these stands almost exclusively because I didn’t think the more expensive sturdy stands were really all that big a deal.
Stands weren’t all that big a deal a decade ago – until one of my favorite Jazz Box guitars teetered off one of the tube stands and snapped at the headstock. At the point of the broken neck on my Artcore, that $9.99 stand became a VERY expensive stand. Since my transition to only sturdy stands (active and passive), I’ve not had an instrument fall off a stand since…
For this review, I’d like to tell you about a wonderful type of sturdy stand I’ve had the pleasure of using for the past many months: The D&A STARFISH stands. I’ve hung LOTS of different kinds of guitars, basses, and other instruments on these particular stands and am VERY pleased. Read on to find out more…
Both STARFISH instrument stands are very strong contenders in the sturdy stand market! I wouldn’t hesitate to buy more.
I’ve been using sturdy stands from three prominent stand manufacturers for about the last 7 years. The first one was a major expense for my limited budget at $100 (street) – but in the end proved to be a worthwhile investment (I still have that particular stand). Sturdy stands hold the guitar better than tube stands; and they do a better job of supporting the weight of the guitar. These multi-footed broad-based sturdy stands make the possibility of a fall much less likely. The footing and weight of the sturdy stand world is significantly more substantial than the traditional $10 tube stand. And they are worth every cent more…
My STARFISH and STARFISH+ Active stands are the latest in my now fairly large set of sturdy stands. Both my STARFISH stands have held priceless guitars and cheap guitars alike, and are both in daily, non-stop use. If there was something (even small) that I didn’t like about them, they would never hold my #1 LP Traditional or my Hummingbird acoustic or my Brother’s Blondie (#5) Telecaster Deluxe (just to name three of my most important guitars).
I do not hesitate to put my favorite instruments in my STARFISH and STARFISH+ stands – particularly the STARFISH+ Active stand. I’m quite fond of them and would recommend them to any player, whether they are just starting out or are a seasoned decades-long musician.
Please read my stand safety note at the bottom of this review.
Durability and Ease of Use
The STARFISH Passive and STARFISH+ Active stands are VERY sturdy. They are VERY well-planted. On my short-pile rug, the stands do pretty well. The stand’s materials feel solid and well-done. My two stands have been in VERY active use for many months and still look brand new. All the joints still work great, despite being carted about and thrown into the boots of cars and wagons. The surfaces still have their coating on them, and even the soft surfaces still feel even and well-made. I have not found a crack or flaw in either of my STARFISH stands at this point.
I’m not overly rough with my gear, even down to the stands, strap, and picks I use. I like my things to last, so I do tend to be reasonable with my gear. With that said, guitar stands get knocked around A LOT when they’re put in trunks or closets or attics or even put out on the floor with a bunch of active musicians. I must say, both my STARFISH stands have held up VERY well. I’m quite pleased with them!
The STARFISH Passive stand is very easy to use: just take the instrument by its neck, and place it into the STARFISH’s yoke. Make sure you’ve got it in the right place and let it go. With instruments long enough to touch the padding on the five sturdy legs, just put the guitar close to the padding as you release and the instrument nestles nicely against the padding on the front two legs. For smaller instruments like mandolins, dulcimers, and violins, just hang the instrument carefully from its scroll-stock and let go (with short instruments with ANY yoke stand if you “drop” it into the yoke at an angle and let go, it will swing and touch or hit the main rod of the stand. Whether or not the main rod is padded, short instruments can get dented if you are careless with your instrument.
The STARFISH+ Active stand is a breeze, and adds an additional layer of instrument security for a nominal extra cost. The overall stand setup of the STARFISH+ is like that of the STARFISH. The biggest difference is the active, self-closing yoke in the STARFISH+ Active. This stand is weight-activated such that a clear pair of “pincers” runs around the neck of your instrument and makes a closed loop under your headstock/scroll-stock. I like this additional security because it is less likely that the instrument can be knocked out of the stand by running cats, dogs, rabid fans, or children. Although nothing is perfect, this is a really great stand technique – put the instrument down and it automatically puts its sleeves around the neck. VERY NICE. The diameter of the sleeve/pincers is pretty big around. I’ve put many different basses and guitars (both acoustic and electric) in my STARFISH+ stand with great results.
The price of the STARFISH and STARFISH+ in USD is extremely comparable with its competitors from Ultimate and Hercules. The two STARFISH stands are a very strong contender in this market space. I would definitely consider the price point on STARFISHes when making a decision to buy an Active stand or Passive hang-yolk stand.
You can take a look at the STARFISH and STARFISH+ stands here at the Heydna site: http://www.heydna.com/. The stands are available at major retailers, on Amazon.com, and through the http://www.heydna.com/collections/all store site.
How about this for great?
Some instruments aren’t all that great for working with almost any guitar stand. The STARFISH+ Active stand works with several difficult-to-fit instruments in my library:
• The STARFISH+ is the ONLY stand that I have ever used that will hold my double-neck B.C. Rich guitar. It is sturdy, doesn’t rock left and right, and actually holds the guitar in such a way as to not put undue stress on the neck that is in the yolk. In my case, when my double-neck is not in its case, it hangs by the 12-string neck in the STARFISH+
• Few active guitar stands hold old-school (narrow-headstock) Telecasters very well. Some active guitar stands actually don’t close up enough to hold a Tele at all. The STARFISH and STARFISH+ both hold my Teles quite well.
• The STARFISH+ does a fantastic job holding banana-headstock guitars like Explorers.
• My STARFISH+ comfortably holds my Wonderful vintage Maggie Valley (North Carolina) wormy-maple sweetheart lap dulcimer – even with its odd scroll-stock!
A note about instrument safety and instrument stand safety
An instrument stand is only as good as the way it is used. If one is careless about placing an instrument in a stand it is likely that accidents will occur with any stand type or brand. There are always environments where stands can’t protect our instruments – even the really good ones like STARFISH stands. As we move on stage or have kids and animals (is there a difference? 😉 ) bolting through the room, we stand a chance to knock over even the best of stands.
• Always place your stand on as flat a surface as possible
• Always place your stand out of the middle of the high-traffic paths of the room
• Always take the extra three seconds to put the instrument in the sand and make sure it’s all the way in the stand and properly positioned – even active stands can’t do their job when the instrument is thrown carelessly into the stand’s yoke
• Make sure you have a firm grasp on the instrument as you place it into the stand or retrieve it from the stand
In our liability-driven world, I must make a disclaimer: use guitar stands at your own risk. I am not endorsing any particular stand or any particular method of using a stand with your priceless instrument. Ultimately, you are responsible for what happens to your instrument.