I finally get my hands on a Starcaster, a guitar I’ve wanted since Squier and Fender re-launched it in 2019.
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I’ve wanted a Starcaster for years. Actually, it’s essentially been since I watched the recorded performance of The Killers at Royal Albert Hall in my teens. Dave Keuning’s mastery of the Starcaster always impressed me. The Starcaster is the perfect mix between a Fender and Gibson, at least in my eyes. With the dual humbuckers and volume/tone control of a Gibson ES-335, but the Fender aesthetic, build quality, and bright top end.
Allegedly, these Classic Vibe Starcasters are just the same Modern Player Starcasters they released back in the 2010s, but re-branded as Squier. That makes sense, as those Fender ones were also made overseas, as opposed to Mexico or California. In fact, I suspect they were made in the very same Indonesian Squier factory. So I’m basically getting the same guitar, but for sub-$500 I could have had years ago for closer to $700+.
But now that I have the guitar in my hands, after a very impulsive Black Friday purchase, does it live up to all the hype? And trust me, there has been lots of hype about these guitars since their release.
Well, yeah. It’s actually a great guitar.
I will say, the pickups leave a little bit to be desired, but at the price point, they sound fantastic and the Classic Vibe Starcaster feels like a steal. The playing experience is fantastic, with a fast, quality neck that so far has no buzz, high frets, or action issues at all. Tuning stability is also sort of impressive, definitely better than lots of higher end Gibson’s I’ve played. The Squier wide range humbuckers are perfectly fine, full of jangle and chime, and capable of taking distortion really well. I can imagine myself upgrading them to maybe the new Fender CuNiFe wide range pickups and then never needing to change a thing on this guitar again. I think with that change, you’d have a life-time player here. It’s that good otherwise out of the box.
This Starcaster is a great example of the value of the Classic Vibe series. They are good products, good enough to rely on for gigging or studio recording, without breaking the bank. Do they have all the high end bells and whistles? Nope, that’s why they are less than $500, but they are highly functional, generally look fantastic in terms of the classic Fender aesthetic, and are easily repaired or modified to your liking. It’s not perfect, but this Starcaster was worth every penny and then some.
So in this highly subjective, non-technical review, I can confirm these guitars deserve a lot of the hype they got since 2019. It’s affordable enough to add on a whim as a quirky guitar unlike any others you own. But it’s also fantastic enough and reliable enough to use everyday as player’s instrument.
Check out my quick and simple demo below to hear how the Starcaster sounded running into my rig, featuring the Universal Audio Ruby and Volt2 Audio Interface.