Should Fender Bring Back The Fender Starcaster?

Some signs of a comeback on the cards   22-Jun-13

Should Fender Bring Back The Fender Starcaster?

It was Fender's first real foray into the semi-hollowbody market; the Starcaster was an eye-catching guitar with a unique Fender take on the semi-hollowbody tone.

Of course, the company had introduced F-holes on certain models before, but always on existing designs, famous body shapes from their existing range of solidbody electric guitars.

It had its fair share of fans too, but ultimately, the Fender Starcaster was doomed to extinction and was discontinued just three years after its initial release in 1976.

Why? Well it wasn't the price, it was a decent quality guitar for $850, but it just never caught on. The market in semi-hollowbodies had been dominated for years by the usual suspects, namely Gibson.

But as with all curious and eyecatching discontinued guitars, it gained a cult following in the years after it was pulled from the production lines.

Fender Starcasters can sell for around $5000 these days, not a bad investment for those who bought it at the time. A recent article about the history of the Starcaster on Fender's website attracted the attention of fans of the instrument, many of whom can't afford to part with thousands of dollars, and want to see an affordable rerelease of the guitar.

It's an interesting thing to study, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that the recent reminiscent and romantic article on the Fender Starcaster is actually an elbow test, to measure the demand for its return.

A full release would be absolutely nuts, it would be discontinued again within three years. But given a year-long limited release, possibiliy even in the form of a Mexican version, it would undoubtedly have a market... and Fender could certainly afford to add an extra $150 to the price tag just for the novelty of its return.

So is the Fender website's article about the guitar a sign of intent? Well probably not, but if people keep begging for it, then it's not out of the question, just look at Gibson's recent rerelease of the Gibson Nighthawk Standard (more of a 20th anniversary edition than a rerelease, but you get the point)!

Video: Jonny Greenwood rocks the Starcaster

John Flores from Sylmar, California, wrote on Fender's website:

"Please bring the Starcaster back. I'm sure tons of people would love to get at one. You guys (Fender) do reissues of a bunch of other models, but I've yet to see anything similar to the Starcaster."

Adam Findlay, a Fender fan, went one further, and had one specially created:

"Bring it back! I had to get one custom built because Fender had no plans to reissue..."

It must be said that these fans of the Fender Starcaster are in the minority, it still has a 'cult' following, and not a major one. But personally, I'd love to see it make a comeback, perhaps with some modifications and updates.

In fact, Eddie Bayer, member of Facebook's popular guitar nerd community 'Gear Talk', puts it well when he says:

"I'm a hollowbody guy. Have been since I was a kid. No one wanted the Starcaster to be awesome more than me. It wasn't. No one used them. No one bought them. It got not-so-great reviews.

"It's collectible now due to scarcity, not because it was a great guitar. Fender had several periods of quality issues, as did Gibson, like when they were owned by Norlin, and when Fender was owned by CBS. But it was just not a great axe."

That's the 'realist' view, and one shared by many guitarists, to be a realist is to weigh up the pros and cons - the evidence - and make an informed decision. But there is still certainly a level of sentimentality and love for the Starcaster and everything it represents, it's the black sheep of the family, largely unwanted and almost completely outcast. Ask different people about its quality and tone, and you get different responses.

Whether the cult following is due to the quality of the guitar or in spite of the quality of the guitar, it doesn't matter too much. If people want it, then they will buy it, at the right price of course.

So the big question is - how many people want it? And if people like Eddie were put off by what they perceived as a lack of quality, then would they go for a rerelease if it was high quality?

But with celebrity users such as Jonny Greenwood, Chris Walla and Dave Keuning, it can't be that bad a guitar... right?

#BringBackTheStarcaster is what I say. Just for a year! Please Fender, you know you want to.


By Rich Beech

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