Fender reissues lost gems: Coronado and Starcaster

Fender Coronado and Starcaster

Fender Coronado and Starcaster (click to view larger image)

Fender has reissued some of its most fabled and desirable instruments, the Starcaster and Coronado, extending the range of models that comprise the popular Modern Player series.

Originally manufactured from the mid 60s to early 70s, the thin double-cutaway Coronado was Fender’s first attempt at a hollow-body guitar. Designed by Roger Rossmeisl, who had previously worked for Rickenbacker, the guitar was a favourite of Elvis Presley, Ray Davies (The Kinks) and John Phillips (TheĀ  Mamas and the Papas). Coronados were produced in various single-coil guises, which included versions with one or two pickups, and an optional tremolo. The bolt-on neck was maple, topped with a rosewood fretboard.

Designed by Gene Fields, the thin semi-hollow Starcaster was notable for its offset waist and distinctive headstock. Compared with the Coronado, the Starcaster offered improved sustain and sturdiness, due to its maple centre-block. The Starcaster neck was all maple, and bolt-on like the Coronado. It featured two Fender Wide Range pickups and, for Fender, relatively complex circuitry with a three-way pickup toggle switch and five knobs to control tone and volume, which included a master volume.

The new Coronado and Starcaster guitars closely resemble the originals, but some key features differ.

The Coronado now comes only as a two-pickup model and uses Fender Fidelitron pickups instead of the DeArmonds found on the original. The reissued Coronado is semi-hollow – built around an alder centre-block. Because they were fully hollow, old Coronados had a tendency to feedback. The new centre-block should give the Coronado the same kind of sustain and stability as the Starcaster.

The new Starcaster no longer includes the master volume control found on the vintage model. The original Starcaster used a string-through-body bridge. The latest incarnation features an Adjusto-Matic bridge with stop tailpiece. The distinctive headstock design and Fender Wide Range pickups have been retained.

Back in the 60s and 70s, the Coronado and Starcaster were perceived as quirky, esoteric and not very Fender-like. They enjoyed little success and were, inevitably, discontinued. But over the years, perceptions have changed. Originals are now highly prized. Vintage models in good condition can fetch a few thousand dollars. Use by a notable guitarist will always give a guitar a certain cachet and increase its desirability. Starcaster players include Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead), Dave Keuning (The Killers) and Jamie Cook (Arctic Monkeys). Notable Coronado players include Graham Coxon (Blur) and Sergio Pizzorno (Kasabian). Use by such high-profile guitarists has contributed to renewed interest in both guitars. So much so that Fender has invested in design updates and a reissue. And about time too.

Fender has also reissued bass versions of the Coronado and Starcaster.

More at www.fender.com

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