The Fender Starcaster was a hollowbody electric guitar made by the Fender company. The Starcaster was part of Fender's attempt to enter the semi-hollowbody market, which was dominated by Gibson's ES-335 and similar designs.
Design and production
The Starcaster was designed by Gene Fields to be a high quality instrument, although it was manufactured at a time when Fender's standards had lowered considerably. Unlike most semi-hollow guitars which had their necks set in the bodies in the traditional style, the Starcaster retained Fender's bolt-on neck design, which at the time, used a three-bolt joint.
The Starcaster was in production from 1976 or 1977 to 1980 or 1982, depending on sources. An advertisement from 1977states that the Starcaster's first creation was in 1975.
Re-use of Starcaster name
While Fender has found a significant market for period-correct (and sometimes artificially "aged") reissues of some of its classic instruments (from the mainstay Telecaster, Stratocaster, and basses through lesser-known models such as the Mustang and 12-string Stratocaster), the company has never created a Starcaster reissue, nor an updated version of the model. There was evidence that at one point Fender were toying with the idea of Starcaster basses, though they possibly were not going to be marketed as Starcasters. The Starcaster name was, however, recently revived for a range of "value-priced" Starcaster by Fender guitars and drums unrelated to the Starcaster of the 70's.
The Starcaster was commercially unsuccessful, perhaps because of a public notion that Fender was a "solidbody, single coil
brand" and Gibson was the "semi-hollow, humbucker
brand". As a result, Starcasters are very rare, but are worth less in today's vintage market than many other semi-hollow guitars from the same period to collectors because of their unpopularity and lack of name endorsers at their time of manufacture. Despite (or possibly because of) their modest vintage investment value, several modern high profile guitarists use the Starcaster as a preferred instrument. Jonny Greenwood
guitarist of Radiohead
can frequently be seen playing a Starcaster on stage. Sammy James Jr. guitarist and front man of the Mooney Suzuki
uses a natural finished one and appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien with it June 21st 2007. The guitar can also be seen in the music video to Morrissey
's single "You Have Killed Me
". Dave Keuning
of the Killers
also started using one shortly before the release of the album Sam's Town
. He could be seen playing his Starcaster during the Killers
headline slot at Glastonbury Festival
2007, on 'Later with Jools Holland' for Read My Mind
and in the video for For Reasons Unknown
The Starcaster had a unique headstock design, with a painted bottom curve matching the color of the guitar body, that no other Fender guitar has had before or since. It was also unusual for a semi-hollow guitar in having an asymmetrical ("offset") body, a maple fretboard, a bolt-on neck, and Fender's traditional six-on-a-side tuning pegs.
Wide Range pickups
The "Fender Wide Range
" humbucking pickups were designed by Seth Lover
and appeared first on various Telecaster Custom and Telecaster Thinline models in the early '70s. They are still available as reissues, although the construction of the reissued Pickups has significantly changed. Regardless, they are still labeled "Wide Range".
Notable Starcaster users