Squier Classic Vibe Starcaster

I’ve wanted a Fender Starcaster since they first came out in the 1970’s. They looked delightfully weird and I liked the idea of combining the best of Fender qualities with the best of Gibson. I couldn’t afford one back then, and I resisted the reissues that came out a few years ago. Then I saw that there was an affordable Squier version made in Indonesia that was getting good reviews.  I ordered one. It came today. Here’s the “offset” asymmetrical body:

Starcasterbody

And here’s the full guitar. The headstock is controversial. Some think it’s cool, some think it’s too weird. One reviewer said it looked like an “Elvin weapon.” I think it is weird, but I like weird. It’s big enough to be a billboard. You could sell advertising on it.

Starcasterfull

I would say that the reviews are accurate. The fretwork is very good. No sharp frets or high frets. It came with 9s on it, but I will probably put on heavier strings. (I did. I put 10’s on it. Good move.) It plays almost too easy. The finish is nearly flawless. The maple top and sides are beautiful. It’s poly, so it is glossy slick. Some people prefer matte finishes or nitro, but this is fine.

A number of the reviews say that the tone and volume pots don’t have much sweep. This is true. I may replace the pots. They also say that the neck is pretty thin, which is also true, but it is comfortable.

I was a bit worried because although the retailer shipped the guitar and a Gator case together, the case arrived on Saturday, but the guitar had been missorted to the wrong local Fedex, so it spent the weekend there and had to be shipped back to the hub and then out to the right city. It was double-boxed, which was a good thing, because at some point something had hooked through the outer box but failed to penetrate the inner box.

Sound Clips

How does it sound? It’s pretty much exactly what I was looking for. The “wide-range” pickups  are in-between a Fender single coil and a Gibson style humbucker. They are brighter and punchier than a Gibson, but mellower than most Telecaster pickups. They are not cunife magnets like the originals or like the Fender reissue wide range pickups that cost $200 apiece, but they sound good. Here’s a clip with the neck pickup playing rhythm on the left. On the right, I am playing lead switching between the middle position and the bridge.

I’ve only had the guitar for a few hours, but I am happy with it! It’s a very versatile guitar.

Update: Here’s another quick clip. The rhythm guitar is the neck pickup and the lead is the bridge, both through a little Hotone Mojo Diamond head and a Carvin cabinet with a 12″ speaker. The lead has tremolo on it.

And here’s a blues, back to Tonelib GFX sims again. The rhythm is a Fender Twin sim and the lead is a Marshal Plexi.

Extra: A TDPRI backing track of a Buddy Holly song. I tried to stay out of the way of the saxophone.

One caution about the pickups. If you are recording and you hit a pickup with your pick, it will make an audible clunk on your track. The pickups are big targets with metal covers, so they are easy to hit. Playing live, I doubt this would be a problem, but you have to be careful when recording. However, the natural playing position is between the pickups even with your palm on the bridge for muting, so with care, it should all work.

Update

I have played this guitar a lot now. After a while, I began to think that the stock Tune-O-Matic (TOM) bridge needed an upgrade. The high strings were a little metallic, with a bit of sitar-like character, up and down the neck. This was much more noticeable un-amplified, but it was bugging me. The slots on the bridge saddles were cut a bit rough. There are various types of TOM bridges, some with English measurements and some metric, and some with wider posts and some with narrow. After a bit of research and visual comparison, I ordered a Gotoh bridge from StewMac, which turned out to be a drop in replacement. A lot of TOM bridges come without slots cut, so you have to have some kind of file to cut them. The Gotoh comes with “starter” slots, which so far seem to be working fine without further cutting.

Gotoh is made in Japan and it is clearly a high-quality part. With shipping and tax it was about $40. This bridge solved the problem and the guitar now has a mellower, smoother sound, a bit jazzier. I am pleased.

About guitarsophist

I'm a guitar-playing rhetorician professor.
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1 Response to Squier Classic Vibe Starcaster

  1. Gary says:

    Nice. I’m going to get one.

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