Fender Starcaster Acoustic Guitar Review
When it comes to guitars, there are few bigger names than Fender but most people would commonly associate the brand with electric guitars. We tend to associate Fender with guitarists such as Hendrix, David Gilmour, Stevie Ray Vaughn, namely the ones who played the electric Fender guitars. The company produces a fine range of acoustic guitars as well though with Tim Armstrong being one of the most famous guitarists who plays a Fender acoustic. The company is clearly able to produce top of the line guitars but they are also noted for having a fine line in acoustic guitars that are aimed at the beginner to intermediary market.
If you are looking for a basic acoustic guitar that will let you hone your skills, have some fun or even act as a great back-up guitar, the Fender Starcaster is one of the most popular choices around. As you can see here, it is the leading guitar on the best beginner acoustic guitar lists. You don’t have to look too far to find acoustic guitars but if you are looking for one from a name you can trust, this may be a good place to start.
Acoustic or Electric
Before we continue, I would like to talk about one common doubt among beginners. When they want to buy their first guitar, a lot of my students are not sure whether to get the acoustic or the electric guitar. I tend to pay the special attention to this question, as every guitarist should understand the characteristics of his instrument. You have to be sure that your decision is the right one so that you could focus and pay full attention to your instrument of choice.
If you ask me, the guitar to start with is the acoustic guitar. However, not many beginners will agree with me. Young guitarists often prefer to start with the electric guitar. Let’s see what the most common reasons are and talk about them a bit.
Almost all of my students are looking up to some guitarist that plays the electric guitar (there are not many acoustic guitar heroes among the young population – all of them want to become the new Kurt Cobain, Satriani, James Hetfield, etc.). Besides that, the electric guitar provides more possibilities compared to the acoustic guitar. You can play it with different levels and different kinds of a distortion, add a delay or a chorus to your tone, step on the wah pedal and experiment with your sound… Of course, there are numerous pedals and effects that you can use, these are just the most common ones.
Although it is true that all of these rock superstars play the electric guitar, the thing is that almost all of them started on the acoustic guitar. Satriani didn’t just pick up his Ibanez and started shredding and performing dive-bombs! It took a lot of practice and patience. This is why it is not advised to start experimenting with the effects too early; this way you might neglect your technical abilities and gain false self-confidence. Besides that, later on, you can also add effects to your acoustic guitar. Well, at least some of them:
Another reason why some prefer the electric guitar is the fact that with this guitar you can play in a band. A lot of beginners have a group of friends that also want to start playing some instrument, so they often have a plan for forming a band. Needless to say, the acoustic guitar is not very popular among the rock bands. The logic is – you can always play the acoustic stuff with the electric guitar, but you can’t do the other way around.
I have to be honest with you on this one – if you are a beginner, don’t expect to form a band as soon you buy your first guitar. If a band wants to function properly, all of the musicians have to know at least the basic skills and knowledge about their instrument; otherwise, they will hardly sound right.
Some of the students believe that the electric guitar is a good choice simply because it is easier to play. Namely, it is easier to play a note on the electric guitar compared to the acoustic guitar (i.e. you need to put less pressure on the strings). Although this is true, the thing is that this characteristic can also be a huge drawback for a beginner. The electric guitar is amplified which means that everything you play will be heard. And not just that, but every contact with the strings won’t go unnoticed. Unexperienced players tend to accidentally press or touch a string and thus provide a lot of residual noise. Not to mention how horrible this can sound if your tone is distorted! You will probably produce nothing but a bunch of noise! This is because you have to learn how to mute the strings while you play the electric guitar; otherwise, you guitar lick probably won’t sound anything like the original song.
Fortunately, you won’t have this problem with the acoustic guitar. It is not too loud, so even if you make a mistake here and there, it won’t be as obvious as in the case of the electric guitar. Of course, this way you will be motivated to continue with the practice, as you’ll probably receive more positive feedback.
All in all, the electric guitar is more complicated for playing, so I would suggest you start with the acoustic guitar.
Now, let’s take a look at the Fender Starcaster.
The 20 fret Fender Starcaster comes with a gloss natural finish and the following features:
- Laminated spruce top
- Laminated Agathis back and sides
- Ply White Pickguard
It has a fairly traditional look and feel for an acoustic guitar and if you are determined to have an introductory guitar that looks good, you won’t go too wrong with this guitar. The craftsmanship may not be the first thing you think of when looking for a good beginner’s guitar but there is no doubt that the look of the guitar will have an impact on how the budding musician feels about the instrument. The Fender Starcaster goes a long way to helping musicians to live out their dreams of following their guitar idols!
Sound / Tones
When trying to evaluate the tone on a beginner or budget guitar, there can be a tendency to make allowances for the cost. It wouldn’t be fair to compare the Fender Starcaster tone or sound quality to that of one of the top of the line Fender guitars. However, there is an agreement that the tone from the Fender Starcaster is a good one, providing a clear sound which is helpful to beginners. A lot will depend on the style of pick and how competent the player is but as far as beginner guitars go, this is one that manages to go a step beyond the dull or fuzzy sounds that many elder guitarists can remember from their initial forays into playing.
The crucial thing about the Fender Starcaster is that is has a decent and clean sound; this is the most important characteristic for any beginner. Some of my students think too much and analyze numerous guitars in order to find out which one has the best sound. The point is that you can’t expect a professional and amazing sound from the Fender acoustic guitar that costs around $100.
I know that this may seem strange, but believe me, you really don’t need the best sounding acoustic guitar. You may think “Have this man lost his mind?!”, but before you make any conclusion, please hear me out.
As a beginner, you should find a decent sounding guitar that is playable and doesn’t cost a lot of money. There is really no need to pay too much attention to the finest characteristics of the sound, as the beginner’s ear can hardly tell the difference.
So, if you are starting to play the guitar, it won’t be very important if your guitar doesn’t have the fullest tone. You really don’t need to spend countless hours listening to the YouTube videos in order to decide which guitar sounds the best. The truth is that all of the guitars in this price range have approximately the same sound quality. Having this in mind, you can be sure that you won’t make a wrong decision if you choose this Fender Starcaster.
So, if you are expecting that traditional Fender tone, you are likely to be disappointed with what the Fender Starcaster has to offer but everyone else will appreciate the clearness of the sound provided by the instrument.
Playability / Action / Ease of Use
A common complaint you will always get with basic guitars is that people will encourage you to change the strings as soon as possible for higher quality strings. It is easy to see why this is a common opinion but it overlooks the importance of the beginner guitar. Getting used to a guitar without spending too much money is often one of the most important aspects for new players, so there shouldn’t be too much of a rush to start making big changes to the basic acoustic guitar. This guitar manages to stay in tune quite well so with that regard; this is a good first choice for any beginner.
If you are starting out with playing the instrument, it is inevitable there will be times when the strings are sore on your fingers but this is all part of the process. The fret-size and width of the neck should be comfortable for most players although children and adults with small hands may be advised to look for a scaled guitar.
One of the most common difficulties that the beginners face is the pain in the tips of the fingers. Indeed, sometimes this can be a serious problem. When my students see the calluses on my fingertips, they immediately want to know how to develop them.
The crucial thing is to practice every single day. Remember that this cannot be done quickly. You need to arm yourself with patience and to gradually straighten your fingers. There are a few tricks that can help you during this process.
Although the beginners usually focus on chords, these can be pretty hard to play, especially the “first position chords”. This is because the string tension is the highest at the top of the neck. Of course, when you are playing the chord, your fingers are “working” all of the time, pressing the strings down. This can be very painful for your fingertips (you probably won’t be able to hold a chord longer than a few seconds). However, there is a solution to this. If you want to practice more but your fingers are in pain, there are other things to play besides the chords. There are some very simple open scales that you can practice. The cool thing with these scales is that almost half of the time you are playing open (or empty) strings, meaning that you don’t have to press any fret. This is the great way to go because you are practicing and resting your fingertips at the same time.
When you are playing, try not to press the strings too hard. Find the amount of pressure that is enough for the string to ring properly, and don’t go beyond it. There is no need to press any harder, as the tone will remain the same and all that you’ll get is the pain in your fingertips.
If you need additional information considering this topic you can take a look at this page.
With regards to playing the instrument, the lightness of the body means that even beginners should be able to get comfortable with the instrument in a short space of time. Sometimes there is a need to adjust your position or to play it standing up before you find a position that is comfortable but this should be an instrument that most musicians will be able to play comfortably.
Of course, always have in mind the price of this guitar. When the instrument costs around $100, it means that sometimes it won’t be in the best shape. However, you shouldn’t be worried; these are usually the minor corrections that will make your playing more enjoyable.
For example, a lot of beginners complain that the action on their acoustic guitar is too high. This means that they have to press the string very hard in order to play the note. Needless to say, this is not a very pleasant experience. Some of the beginners believe that this is just the way it is, so they keep torturing their fingers unnecessary. The truth is that you can easily overcome this drawback. All you have to do is to modify the nut and the saddle. I know that many of you are afraid to disassemble the guitar and perform modification on it, but this shouldn’t be a big deal. Of course, you can always give the guitar to the professional to do this “operation” (it is not a big expense but you, and your fingers, can benefit a lot from it).
In the case you want to know more about how to set up your acoustic guitar, you can check out this video:
Another common thing that gives a headache to beginners it how to adjust the truss rod. This indeed is not the easiest thing to do, so you could really use a help from the professional on this one. If you want to learn more about how truss rod works and how to adjust it, take a look at this video:
Build / Reliability
Even though the guitar comes in at a low price, it is still a Fender and this means that people have expectations of the product. It won’t take a great deal of abuse but it isn’t a guitar that has been designed to withstand the pressure and stress of life on the road. The supplied gig bag isn’t the sturdiest so up-grading this may be a sensible decision if the guitar will be carried around a lot but for what it is, it does the job.
In all likelihood, a beginner guitar will be played at home or with friends and will hopefully be looked after well. If the Fender Starcaster is looked after properly, it can give plenty of service and can help people to develop their guitar skills over a number of years.
Price / Value
There is a Fender Starcaster guitar kit available for around $119.00 which will provide everything you need to get started. Alongside the guitar itself, this pack contains a bag to carry the guitar in, a range of picks, a strap, strings, and a tuner. These are definitely the essentials for any new player with the tuner and strings coming in very handy! The standalone Fender Starcaster guitar retails for just under $100 so it is easy to see that the bundle provides great value but a lot depends on what the player actually needs.
The Verdict / Impression
When it comes to finding a beginner to intermediary guitar, there are a few things to look for. Value for money, the ability to stay in tune, light enough to be comfortable to play and a good enough tone are all key components in a good guitar. The Fender Starcaster provides all of these elements while bringing the Fender name to your home so if you are looking for a guitar to start playing, this is one of the best you will find on the market. The guitar kit versions available can provide you with everything you need to get started so that may be the better option but this is a guitar worth considering.