1975 Fender Starcaster

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Cool and rare, lovely finish and patina, light weight, many unique features, great pickups and tones, centre block.

Thumbs down: Many CBS‑era Fender features may deter some, hard to find, pricey on the vintage market.

Decree: A very accomplished guitar and great if you want something that is different from the herd but still with ‘that’ name on the headstock.

Model Description:

During the 1960s and 1970s, Fender under the management of CBS tried to expand their offer beyond the core solid body guitars for which the company became rightly famous. Fender tried to compete not only with Gibson and their popular ES series guitars but also other manufacturers that made similar thinline semi‑acoustic guitars, such as Guild and Hofner. Fender’s first attempt was the Roger Rosmeisl‑designed Coronado made from 1966‑1972, which proved commercially unsuccessful. In 1975/1976, Fender introduced the upmarket Starcaster, designed by Gene Fields, comprising a double cutaway, semi‑acoustic thinline with a solid centre block, and sporting two Seth Lover Wide Range humbucking pickups, otherwise only seen on the Telecaster Custom, Deluxe and Thinline. Although the body design and pickups moved Fender closer to their goal, traditionalists still didn’t embrace for the bolt‑on maple neck with its offset body and unusual headstock style. The Starcaster only lasted 4 years before it was phased out in 1980. In 2013, Fender delved into its back catalogue and re‑issued both the Coronado and the Starcaster for a new generation. With modern production and ergonomics, the Starcaster has been greeted with greater commercial success, especially with guitarists looking for something a bit different. The unique Starcaster should also not be confused with a range of Far Eastern budget guitars and basses confusingly called ‘Starcaster by Fender’, or even with the similarly‑named venerable Stratocaster. The original and now‑vintage Fender Starcaster is quite scarce today, raising interest and becoming increasingly collectable, resulting in higher prices on the vintage guitar market.

Guitar Description:

While the original Fender Starcaster may be an unfamiliar model to many, this lovely creature really begs to be (re‑)discovered. The front and back of the body feature a lovely arched mild laminated flame maple, finished in a very attractive tobacco sunburst. The serial number, body features and pickup dates all point to 1975, so it is a very early one, as they are often cited to appear in 1976. To me, the Starcaster clearly fits CRAVE Guitars’ underdog criteria of cool & rare. Even if it is unfamiliar to many, it is one of those guitars that you not only can’t take your eyes off but also can’t resist picking up and playing. It is and isn’t an ordinary Fender at the same time, which makes it doubly appealing to the curious and may be a reason why they didn’t catch on first time around. The construction makes it feel quite large for a Fender guitar but very comfortable to play. On the surface, one can’t help but draw comparisons with a Gibson ES‑335 but it really isn’t the same thing at all. Continuing my love affair with the original Seth Lover Wide Range pickup from the 1970s, they give the Starcaster a great punchy semi‑acoustic amplified sound that is unique in the Fender canon and great for alternative/indie sonic experimentation. While this example isn’t immaculate, it is in wonderful, all‑original condition with a gorgeous patina, having been played and then seemingly stored away for a long time – a little TLC has brought her resplendently back to life. In summary, the Fender Starcaster looks gorgeous and plays very well. What more could you want?


  • Made in Fullerton, California, U.S.A. in 1975
  • Offset double cutaway thinline semi‑hollow body with centre block and 2 unbound f‑holes
  • Flame maple front and back in tobacco sunburst finish
  • Maple bolt‑on neck with 3‑point ‘microtilt’ ‘F’‑branded neck plate
  • Original ‘Fender’ branded tuners
  • Fender ‘Bullet’ truss rod
  • Unbound 10” radius maple fingerboard with 22 jumbo frets and black dot markers
  • Nut width 15/8” (41.2mm)
  • Scale length 25½” (647mm)
  • Original chrome hardware
  • Original 3‑ply black/white/black plastic floating scratchplate
  • Original Seth Lover ‘Wide Range’ humbucking pickups
  • Original pots, knobs and jack socket
  • Vintage, non‑original shaped ‘Kustom’ hard shell case
  • Weight: 6lbs (2.72kg)


  • Jamie Cook (Arctic Monkeys)
  • Martin Gore (Depeche Mode)
  • Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead)
  • David Keuning (The Killers)
  • Thom Yorke (Radiohead)


Fender asked Gene Fields, the Starcaster’s designer to come up with a way of re‑purposing leftover parts form the then‑defunct Coronado. However, the results allegedly proved fruitless and Fields went on to design the Starcaster from the ground up. Just as well he did.

Detail Gallery:

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