Starcasters from the Custom Shop

Discussion of newer designs, copies and reissue offset-waist instruments.
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Re: Starcasters from the Custom Shop

Post by sal paradise » Thu Jul 22, 2021 6:59 am

mbene085 wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 6:20 am
The visual mismatch of a PAF (shape, at least) with a ring and a P90 is something I'd expect on a Pawn Shop model, not a $10k CS (or whatever price these were).

Especially since neither is actually a PAF or a P90.

Then again, I'm not their target audience. There's clearly someone out there who's saying, "Take my $10k, build me a Starcaster with an aged finish, and put mismatched looking pickups in it."
But honestly, who is saying that? I get that there’s a few 35 year old Radiohead fans who are also millionaires & would buy a Lamborghini over a Bentley. But like, it seems weird to splash custom build Fender money on something so odd… I just assume that all people with expensive taste & enough money to back it up are 60 year-old traditionalists. That’s a pretty outdated view I guess. They all bought their ‘59 Les Paul reissues years back.

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Re: Starcasters from the Custom Shop

Post by smalahove » Thu Jul 22, 2021 2:29 pm

mbene085 wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 6:20 am
The visual mismatch of a PAF (shape, at least) with a ring and a P90 is something I'd expect on a Pawn Shop model, not a $10k CS (or whatever price these were).

Especially since neither is actually a PAF or a P90.

Then again, I'm not their target audience. There's clearly someone out there who's saying, "Take my $10k, build me a Starcaster with an aged finish, and put mismatched looking pickups in it."
Why would you assume someone who shells out $10k for a very unique guitar model, would want a run-of-the-mill pickup setup?
The bridge pickup looks like a P-90 staple and the neck pickup like a goldfoil humbucker. Now I haven't tried that exact setup, but I am sure it sounds amazing bc the GF and P-90 staple pickups I tried have been so. I am rarely impressed by PAF-style humbuckers.

And for me, the visual mismatch of the pickups is exactly why I like it (like the open/covered HBs on one if Page's LPs). Add to that the slanted FCS bridge and the JM trem, whereas I don't really like the aesthetics of the Staytrem bridge and trem on the Volare. This setup though looks perfect on that shape.
I also like the fact that the GF HB has a pickup ring around it, and is not perfectly drilled into the body (like the p90 staple). That's more of a perfect Collings guitars kind of look. This way, it looks like a retrofit, which I like.

If Fender made this guitar at a reasonable price, or a Vintera/Road worn version, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
If I had $10K to use on a single guitar, this could very well be it.

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Re: Starcasters from the Custom Shop

Post by 46346 » Thu Jul 22, 2021 5:54 pm

does anybody know what these would actually go for?
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Re: Starcasters from the Custom Shop

Post by BearBoy » Fri Jul 23, 2021 2:22 am

smalahove wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 2:29 pm
I don't really like the aesthetics of the Staytrem bridge and trem on the Volare.
Bilt's use Mastery hardware rather than Staytrem stuff don't they?

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Re: Starcasters from the Custom Shop

Post by Larry Mal » Fri Jul 23, 2021 7:07 am

mbene085 wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 6:20 am
The visual mismatch of a PAF (shape, at least) with a ring and a P90 is something I'd expect on a Pawn Shop model, not a $10k CS (or whatever price these were).

Especially since neither is actually a PAF or a P90.

Then again, I'm not their target audience. There's clearly someone out there who's saying, "Take my $10k, build me a Starcaster with an aged finish, and put mismatched looking pickups in it."
I mean, it looks awful, and it's really the kind of thing you see from a company that is just creatively exhausted and no longer designs things anymore. There's no vision with Fender at any level, it's just a bunch of people slapping together parts onto other parts and hoping that someone somewhere likes it.

It used to be that you could ask, what is that, and the answer was "It's a Jazzmaster", and that word meant that you were getting a whole package that was someone's design.

About that guitar on the left, well, what is that, then?

"Well, it's the body of our old Starcaster, which we later used on an incredibly cheap entry level guitar, but this version has a recreation of an obscure Gibson pickup from the 50s and a, I think, Gretsch pickup for some reason and it's all tied together with our bullshit Custom Shop bridge that we don't sell in any other capacity. Do you want to buy it for ten thousand dollars?"

I know, I know... I'm being harsh on Fender again. Let me make sure that the original poster doesn't feel attacked here, thanks for sharing this, it certainly is interesting to talk about and I don't want you to feel bad about what I'm saying here.

But clearly there's someone there that can build a guitar, why not let that person design a new guitar rather than just root through the past and assemble these grotesque Frankenstein's monsters out of whatever parts can be pulled from the corpses at the graveyard? What's the point of any of this except to separate rich assholes from their money by providing them with boring talking points that no one wants to suffer through?
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Re: Starcasters from the Custom Shop

Post by GreenKnee » Fri Jul 23, 2021 7:16 am

Larry Mal wrote:
Fri Jul 23, 2021 7:07 am
mbene085 wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 6:20 am
The visual mismatch of a PAF (shape, at least) with a ring and a P90 is something I'd expect on a Pawn Shop model, not a $10k CS (or whatever price these were).

Especially since neither is actually a PAF or a P90.

Then again, I'm not their target audience. There's clearly someone out there who's saying, "Take my $10k, build me a Starcaster with an aged finish, and put mismatched looking pickups in it."
I mean, it looks awful, and it's really the kind of thing you see from a company that is just creatively exhausted and no longer designs things anymore. There's no vision with Fender at any level, it's just a bunch of people slapping together parts onto other parts and hoping that someone somewhere likes it.

It used to be that you could ask, what is that, and the answer was "It's a Jazzmaster", and that word meant that you were getting a whole package that was someone's design.

About that guitar on the left, well, what is that, then?

"Well, it's the body of our old Starcaster, which we later used on an incredibly cheap entry level guitar, but this version has a recreation of an obscure Gibson pickup from the 50s and a, I think, Gretsch pickup for some reason and it's all tied together with our bullshit Custom Shop bridge that we don't sell in any other capacity. Do you want to buy it for ten thousand dollars?"

I know, I know... Larry don't like Fender and it upsets people.

But clearly there's someone there that can build a guitar, why not let that person design a new guitar rather than just root through the past and assemble these grotesque Frankenstein's monsters out of whatever parts can be pulled from the corpses at the graveyard? What's the point of any of this except to separate rich assholes from their money by providing them with boring talking points that no one wants to suffer through?
I think they're cool, they give little nods to a few guitars in a mismatch way that I quite like. The one the right is a Starcaster/ES-335/Coronado with the offset bridge and tailpiece in Fiesta Red, I mean what's not to like?

And isn't Fender's whole ethos about having models available at entry level prices all the way up to Custom Shop? I think all the popular Fender models now start at Squier and carry on throughout the entire range so your snobby comment about the body being used on an incredibly cheap entry level guitar is short-sighted in the least.

Lighten up a bit. I hope whoever bought them enjoys them for what they are.

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Re: Starcasters from the Custom Shop

Post by Larry Mal » Fri Jul 23, 2021 7:51 am

GreenKnee wrote:
Fri Jul 23, 2021 7:16 am


I think they're cool, they give little nods to a few guitars in a mismatch way that I quite like. The one the right is a Starcaster/ES-335/Coronado with the offset bridge and tailpiece in Fiesta Red, I mean what's not to like?

And isn't Fender's whole ethos about having models available at entry level prices all the way up to Custom Shop? I think all the popular Fender models now start at Squier and carry on throughout the entire range so your snobby comment about the body being used on an incredibly cheap entry level guitar is short-sighted in the least.

Lighten up a bit. I hope whoever bought them enjoys them for what they are.

That's the thing... I don't see that Fender has an ethos other than being an international behemoth that churns out a product that people like, and that's fine, that's arguably what they should do. They do that well!

But they still have this idea that they are a creative and dynamic company, and they just... aren't. Putting out some unobtanium bullshit for rich people to buy in order to display their wealth doesn't change that one bit.

If Fender had any confidence about any of this stuff, they would be rolling out new models, and you would want that shit. That's what they used to do, right? They took on the biggest names in the guitar world with a product that never existed before and they showed the world that the world needed what Fender had.

And now they just stitch together corpse parts and try and pretend that it's still alive. And it's all just so bad.

If this was a good guitar, then they would make thousands of them and people would be buying them. That's their whole design model, or ethos, if you will. But it's not a good guitar. It's a singular guitar made by a creatively bankrupt conglomerate and that guitar was bought by a singular rich person in order to put his wealth on display. It's not very inspiring stuff.
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Re: Starcasters from the Custom Shop

Post by Maggieo » Fri Jul 23, 2021 8:49 am

They're custom shop. Blame the buyer.

You know what company has an ethos? Eastman. Their craftspeople are making hand-built guitars with a level of workmanship that is easily custom-shop level. But they're relatively small (they have to be, since they're not a production line shop, but multiple luthiers) and they're based in Beijing, which pisses off non-globalists.

So, Fender, boo for not being as good as it should be, and boo to Eastman, which is better than it should be, but is in China.

So, I guess we all play Gibsons now. :ph34r: :ph34r: :ph34r: :ph34r: :ph34r: :ph34r: :ph34r: :ph34r: :ph34r:
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Re: Starcasters from the Custom Shop

Post by BeeTL » Fri Jul 23, 2021 9:06 am

Larry Mal wrote:
Fri Jul 23, 2021 7:51 am
If this was a good guitar, then they would make thousands of them and people would be buying them.
Perhaps one day they will do exactly that.

It's funny, because for me, the mashup thing is what I love the most about what Fender has been doing in recent years. They're expanding their palette to compete against the custom partscaster segment, legitimizing these really oddball design choices, facilitating growth within the segment, and doing it at every price point.

Custom shop models cost more because they're very expensive to make. I look at it as a win-win. To that end, I look forward to the day the California Special is a production line model.

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Re: Starcasters from the Custom Shop

Post by Larry Mal » Fri Jul 23, 2021 9:19 am

Maggieo wrote:
Fri Jul 23, 2021 8:49 am
They're custom shop. Blame the buyer.

You know what company has an ethos? Eastman. Their craftspeople are making hand-built guitars with a level of workmanship that is easily custom-shop level. But they're relatively small (they have to be, since they're not a production line shop, but multiple luthiers) and they're based in Beijing, which pisses off non-globalists.

So, Fender, boo for not being as good as it should be, and boo to Eastman, which is better than it should be, but is in China.
Was that one commissioned by a buyer? Because sometimes Fender Custom Shop just comes up with these one off creations and then puts them on social media to show how cool and creative they are, then sell them later. These guitars are super lame either way but you are correct, the blame would fall on the buyer in this case.

I guess you are trying to flip something around on me with Eastman, but I'll point out that Eastman actually has new guitar designs. Granted, it's not the most original thing in the world, but within the incredibly limited scope of what electric guitar players will accept, that's probably about as good as it gets.

Regardless, these luthiers got together and put together a whole and comprehensive guitar design that you can like or don't like as you please, which is something I haven't seen Fender do except for the Jaguar bass and the Dimension bass.

On the guitar side of things, all Fender seems to do is these grotesque Frankenstein monsters or these "What if, in this crazy alternate reality, nothing was as we know it today" guitars, and then you get a Jazzmaster, but with a Stratocaster vibrato.

Mind= not blown.
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Re: Starcasters from the Custom Shop

Post by Larry Mal » Fri Jul 23, 2021 9:27 am

BeeTL wrote:
Fri Jul 23, 2021 9:06 am


Custom shop models cost more because they're very expensive to make. I look at it as a win-win. To that end, I look forward to the day the California Special is a production line model.

Image
But see, that's my point. That is actually a new model that I guess the Custom Shop designed, and it was well received, and it actually has new hardware on it to a degree with the bridge and the vibrato unit.

If Fender actually used the Custom Shop as a proving ground for new designs like that guitar- which I like- then that would be a logical use of the Custom Shop and Fender would actually be a company with some creative energy.

But that was a few years ago, right? I remember when the designer- an outside hire- was talking about it here on this site. Since then, I've seen nothing, that bridge is said to be reserved for Custom Shop guitars only, inexplicably, that vibrato unit I've never see on anything else, and I don't think Fender will really make that guitar. They certainly could have by now.

So why did they hire the guy to design that? Why do they bother? Because they are a big, bloated international corporation with some flicker of life left to realize that they don't have any design vision anymore, then they hire someone who does, then they do nothing with anything that person brought to the table because they are a big, bloated corporation with no real creative vision.
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Re: Starcasters from the Custom Shop

Post by Maggieo » Fri Jul 23, 2021 9:27 am

I like that Eastman is creating new, and IMO, good-looking, god playing, and good sounding guitars. I noodled on a Romeo at Lidgett's over in Council Bluffs, and it's a really good guitar.
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Re: Starcasters from the Custom Shop

Post by Larry Mal » Fri Jul 23, 2021 9:37 am

That guitar up there that I like- wasn't that Ron Thorn who did that one?
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Re: Starcasters from the Custom Shop

Post by BeeTL » Fri Jul 23, 2021 9:54 am

Yes, Ron Thorn, and I'm a big fan. He's still pretty active over at The Gear Page, and seems very happy. The California Special is a current production model, but is Masterbuilt-only.

One of the greatest joys of my guitar building experience was Summer NAMM, 2019. I was in the small builders corner of the Expo Hall, and inexplicably, Brian Swerdfeger, VP of Guitar R&D for Fender came to my booth and just...hung out...for about an hour. He told us about how the Jimmy Page Dragon Tele and the Eric Johnson Virginia Strat came into being.

We've chatted a few times since then, and what I've learned is that planning and lead times for production run models can be several years, and my impression is they only spool up the line for models that will sell in the thousands. Obviously, tweaks to an existing production model like the Gibbard Mustang are much easier to accommodate than a new from scratch model like the California Special.

That said, Fender does produce new, from scratch designs. As you may recall, Brian was one of the drivers behind the Acoustasonic series.

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Re: Starcasters from the Custom Shop

Post by Larry Mal » Fri Jul 23, 2021 10:50 am

I ain't even going to get started on that Acoustasonic situation, but like I say: Ron Thorn can design good guitars, and Fender basically can't, so why they hired him to just make Custom Shop stuff I don't know.

They just really aren't an inspiring company.

Now, if they had put out that California Special instead of the rest of the crap they have been with the Alternate Reality bullshit, then we would be talking about it. It's nothing we've seen before. What does it sound like? What does it play like? What's up with that new vibrato- how does that compare?

I might even buy one.

Instead they reserve it for the Custom Shop, at bespoke prices I guess, with unobtanium hardware that is reserved for the VIP guitarists and if you have to ask if you are one you ain't.

This sort of tiered experience system works well for airplane seats and the Fyre festival, maybe, or luxury cars, for a company that became successful making the best instruments they can make at working musician's prices, it's just gross.

I don't know- I get that it doesn't bug other people as much, so maybe it's just me. I just can't relate to Fender at all. Maybe it's because I don't want to spend six thousand dollars on a Custom Shop instrument with hardware that other people can't afford. I could, you know? I just think it's disgusting.
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