1976 Fender Starcaster | Help me find the first Fender Starcaster!

John Shults

Posted on November 21 2020

Fender Starcaster guitar buyer

I’ve been holding out on you guys for a few months now: I traded for this 1976 Fender Starcaster back in October and have stashed it away for personal use since then. It’s such a strange and cool model much maligned by many guitar collectors for decades but is probably my favorite full production model to come out of the Fender factory in the 1970s. BUT - I also need your help. I found a picture buried deep in the internet of what looks to be a pre-production Starcaster owned by the original designer himself and sold to Guitar Center about 20 years ago. More on that one in a bit.

Vintage Fender Starcaster guitar

 Are you looking to sell your vintage Fender Starcaster guitar? I'm always a vintage Fender guitar buyer but I especially love the Starcaster. I'm looking for clean examples, rare colors like Olympic White and Black, and of course! The Gene Fields owned Sunburst Fender Starcaster with no master volume knob. Please contact me if you find that guitar. You can reach me here to sell a vintage Fender guitar.


The (original run) Fender Starcaster is essentially Fender’s take on the popular Gibson ES-335 model in that it is a thinline archtop electric guitar with a solid block in the middle and hollow wings. It also features Wide Range humbucking pickups developed by Seth Lover who went to work developing a humbucking pickup for Fender in 1969 after developing pickups for Gibson in the 1950s and 1960s. Unlike the 335, it features an offset waist with asymmetrical bouts, thin Roger Rossmeil designed F holes, and a master volume knob. The large 1970s style Fender headstock with color relief cut, a Gene Fields original, further separates it from the Gibson aesthetic. The neck is joined with a typical post-1972 three bolt joint with micro tilt.

The Seth Lover designed Wide Range Humbucking pickups are a significant draw to the Starcaster but can also be found on ‘72 and later Telecaster Thinlines, Telecaster Customs, and Telecaster Deluxes. They’re different from a Gibson style humbucker in that they utilize threaded magnet pole pieces made from CuNiFe, that’s an alloy made from Copper Nickel Iron instead of a bar magnet underneath the coils made from AlNiCo or Aluminum Nickel Cobalt like a Gibson humbucker. CuNiFe became difficult to source and the pickup was discontinued. Reissue pickups look like WR HB but they’re made like Gibson humbuckers under the hood. WR HB are high output and feature higher end frequencies and clarity more prominent that Gibson style humbuckers. 

Gene Fields began working at Fender in 1961 and stayed for nearly 23 years. He participated in the development of the second version of the Marauder model in 1966 which never entered full production. He carried over one design cue to Starcaster model: the painted relief cut on the headstock which is one of my favorite parts.

Pre-production model: Gene eventually left Fender and started his own company manufacturing pedal steel guitars: Gene Fields Industries. He passed in 2014 but the company is still run by his son in law. There’s a really cool picture on his website of what appears to be a pre-production Starcaster? It has a really attractive Sunburst finish and no master volume control. Have you seen this guitar? Apparently it was sold to Guitar Center about 20 years ago. I will pay a premium for this guitar. Please contact me if you have it!

Fender Starcaster prototype, four knobs, no master volume

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