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1975 Fender Starcaster

Previously, I presented you with a post on the Gibson S-1, which was an attempt for Gibson to co-opt the Fender single-coil sound. Essentially, it looked like a Les Paul Junior that was trying to sound like a Telecaster. Today's post is the sonic mirror-image: a Fender that tried to hedge into the market for the Gibson 335 semi-hollowbody.

The Starcaster featured a bound, offset semi-hollow body with an arched top and back and F-holes. This body was mated to a 70's CBS-style 3-bolt neck. The strings were inserted through the back of the guitar to a substantial bridge, a meatier version of a hard-tail Strat, which sat on a big metal block to give the bridge the height to sit over the humbucking pickups and the more steeply-angled neck joint. Unlike the Gibson, it had a maple neck and fingerboard, with black dots and one of the weirdest headstocks Fender ever made. Like the 70s Strats, it also had the micro-tilt adjustment in the neck joint, which added to the unstable feeling of the neck.

The guitar's electronics included two Seth Lover-designed wide-range humbuckers with the offset pole pieces. These pickups had a mellow low end, but more snap than you'd find on traditional Gibson-style humbuckers. The controls included a tone and volume for each pickup, similar to the 335, with the addition of a fifth knob, which was a master volume control. This was handy because you could set your overall tone balance between both pickups and increase the volume of the blended sound, similar to some Gretsch hollowbodies.

The tone of the guitar was really very luxurious, but it was not an instrument built for speed. The neck joint felt a little wobbly back in the day so you really couldn't manhandle it with too much enthusiasm. The guitar had a sustain block in the middle of the hollow wings to prevent feedback, but added substantial weight. The finishes the guitar came in, if memory doesn't fail me, were a beautiful sunburst, natural, and black. No major artists were seen playing the Starcaster and soon, the guitar world would be drooling over Ibanez, Jackson, and Hamer shred machines in the 80s. The Starcaster soon became a pawnshop special along with hollowbody Antiguas, Epiphones, Venturas, and other relics.

Nevertheless, the Starcaster does have a great tone for blues and it exudes a cool vibe. If you're interested, you can pick up an original 1975 Starcaster here. You can also check out the Fender MIM re-issue here and the Squire Classic Vibe reissue for a very affordable price.