What Is The Difference Between A Stratocaster And a Starcaster?

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Written By Sarah Barlow

Chief Music Officer

Fender is a reputable producer of electric guitars that have set an exemplary standard in the music industry. The Stratocaster is one of Fender’s most recognizable models because of how simple and easy it is to set up. Though, the Stratocaster’s superior materials and compact design come at a high price.

Regardless of the company’s reputation, Fender has still managed to launch a subsidiary company called Squier that focuses on producing affordable electric guitars that are guaranteed to be of Fender’s standard quality. 

The company uses less expensive materials and incorporates fewer features in its guitar compared to Fender electric guitars to keep prices down. In relation to this, the Starcaster is one of the well-known electric guitars made by Squier. 

Don’t get confused by the Stratocaster and Starcaster. The former is manufactured by Fender, while the latter is produced by Squier – which is still a Fender-owned company. To assist you in selecting which model best suits you, we’ll go over the main distinctions between the Stratocaster and Starcaster in this article.

Squier Starcaster 

Squier Starcaster History

When the Squier Starcaster was first introduced in 1976, it belonged to the Fender series and featured a unique semi-hollow design. But by the end of 1980, it had been abandoned because it had failed to fascinate and thrill musicians. Its failure had less to do with a terrible and underwhelming electric guitar and more to do with lousy timing and erroneous assumptions. 

The period of its debut was unfortunate because Fender was selling guitars and amplifiers swiftly at the time but was later acquired by CBS in 1965. There were many claims that older Fender instruments and amplifiers were superior and that subsequent models produced by the CBS business were inferior because of the company’s goal to reduce costs. 

However, the Starcaster was one of Fender’s early attempts to establish itself in the humbucking and semi-hollow electric guitar markets, which at the time were owned by Gibson.

The Starcaster was re-issued in 2013 because of high demand; however, this wasn’t the 1976 Starcaster by Fender that was originally produced; rather, it was a modified version of the original. This time, the timing was right, and the Starcaster historically remained the only electric guitar with an offset semi-hollow body manufactured by Fender and Squier. Overall, the Starcaster was generally regarded as an electric guitar with a strong body that could produce excellent tones and feels.

Squier Starcaster Major Features

Contemporary Active Starcaster

  • Squier Active Ceramic Humbucking Pickups
  • Roasted Maple Neck
  • Sealed Die-cast tuning machines with Split Shafts
  • Adjustable bridge with stop tailpiece
  • Sculpted Neck Heel
  • 12-inch Finger Board Radius

Classic Vibe Starcaster

  • Arched Semi-Hollow Body
  • Fender-Designed Wide Range Humbucking Pickups
  • Painted Headstock Contour
  • Nickle Plated Hardware
  • Adjustable Bridge with Stop Tailpiece 
  • Vintage-tint gloss neck finish

Affinity Series Starcaster

  • Arched Semi-Hollow Body
  • Contoured Headstock
  • Adjustable Bridge with Stop Tailpiece 

Starcaster Specification:


  • Material: Laminated Maple
  • Shape: Starcaster
  • Finish: Gloss Polyurethane
  • Binding: Black (Contemporary Active and Affinity Series) and Cream (Classic Vibe)


  • Material: Roasted Maple (Contemporary Active) and Maple (Classic Vibe and Affinity Series)
  • Shape: “C-shape”
  • Finish:
    • Satin Urethane with Gloss Urethane Headstock Contour (Contemporary Active)
    • Tinted Gloss Urethane (Classic Vibe)
    • Satin Urethane (Affinity Series)
  • Fingerboard Material: Roasted Maple (Contemporary Active) and Maple (Classic Vibe and Affinity Series)
  • Scale Length: 25.5 inches or 64.77milimeters
  • Fingerboard Radius:
    • 12 inches or 305 mm (Contemporary Active)
    • 9.5 inches or 241 mm (Classic Vibe and Affinity Series)
  • Number of Frets: 22 frets
  • Fret Size:
    • Jumbo Frets (Contemporary Active)
    • Narrow Tall (Classic Vibe and Affinity Series)
  • Nut Material:
    • Graphite (Contemporary Active)
    • Bone (Classic Vibe)
    • PPS (Affinity Series)


  • Switching: 3-Position Toggle: Position 1. Bridge Pickup, Position 2. Bridge and Neck Pickups, Position 3. Neck Pickup
  • Bridge Pickups:
    • Squier Active Ceramic Humbucker (Contemporary Active)
    • Fender Wide Range Humbucking (Classic Vibe)
    • Standard Humbucking (Affinity Series)
  • Controls:
    • Master Volume, Master Tone (Contemporary Active and Affinity Series)
    • Volume 1. (Neck Pickup), Tone 1. (Neck Pickup), Volume 2. (Bridge Pickup), Tone 2. (Bridge Pickup) (Classic Vibe)


  • Bridge: 6-Saddle Adjustable Bridge

Famous And Successful Players Who Use Starcaster

  • Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead)
  • Dave Keuning (Killers)
  • Martin Gore (Depeche Mode)
  • Jesse Tobias (Morrissey)
  • Jamie Cook (Arctic Monkeys)
  • Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie)
  • Sammy James Jr. (Mooney Suzuki)
  • Steve Mazur (Our Lady Peace)

Squier Starcaster Sound

For its inexpensive price, the Squier Starcaster has excellent sound quality. This is mainly attributed to the humbucker pickups they have, which enable the instrument to produce wholesome tones that make it perfect for complementing musical genres like jazz, bluegrass, country, and rock and blues. 

It is an excellent guitar for beginners, but if you prefer songs with heavy tones, such as metal, it probably isn’t the ideal option for you.

Squier Starcaster Models and Price:

Contemporary Active Starcaster$459.99-$479.99
Classic Vibe Starcaster$409.99-$449.99
Affinity Series Starcaster$299.99-$329.99

Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster History

The Stratocaster was manufactured because of its owner – Leo Fender’s aim in enhancing his company’s first ever commercially successful solid-bodied electric guitar, the Telecaster. His goal was to modify and improve the Telecaster’s design, appearance, and structure. Little did he know that this would lead to the creation of the Stratocaster. Instead of relaunching this newly improved electric guitar as a new version of the Telecaster, Leo Fender believed that it would be better to release it as a separate model on its own- hence, the introduction of the Stratocaster. 

One of the newest improvements the Stratocaster features was called precision bass.  A redesigned bridge, three pickups with switching and settings to boost its tonal versatility, and a contoured body shape were some of its features that made it appealing to different performers. For many years, these characteristics have set the Stratocasters apart from its rivals.

Remarkably, the Fender Stratocaster remains unchanged since its release and continues to gain popularity globally.  

Fender Stratocaster Major Features

The Fender Stratocaster has various series and models, but here are some of its general features:

  • Player series pickups specifically made for Fender’s genuine tone 
  • Twenty-two (22) fret neck
  • Two (2) point tremolo bridge
  • Traditional classic body radii 
  • Tone control for bridge pickup
  • Fender stamped neck plate

Stratocaster Specification

The Fender Stratocaster has various series and models, but here are some of its specifications that generally apply to all its models. 


  • Material: Alder, Ash, 
  • Shape: Stratocaster
  • Finish: Gloss Polyester


  • Material: Maple
  • Shape:
    • Modern C-shape (Stratocaster Modern and Performer)
    • Classic C-shape (Stratocaster Classic)
    • Modern Deep C-Shape (Stratocaster Acoustasonic)
    • Thin C-Shape (Stratocaster HM)
    • Modern D-shape (Stratocaster American Ultra)
    • Soft V-Shape (Stratocaster Vintera 50s and American Original 50s).
  • Finish: Satin Urethane Finish (Back) and Gloss Urethane Finish (Front) 
  • Fingerboard Material: Maple or Rosewood
  • Scale Length: 25.5 inches or 64.77milimeters
  • Fingerboard Radius: 17 inches (Stratocaster HM) to 7.25 inches (Vintera 50s)
  • Number of Frets:
    • 21 frets (Stratocaster American Original, Vintera 50s, SRV)
    • 22 frets (Stratocaster Player, Ultra, Acoustasonic, and Performer)
    • 24 frets (Stratocaster HM)
  • Fret Size:
    • Tall Vintage-Style Frets (Stratocaster American Original 50s)
    • Medium Jumbo frets (Stratocaster Ultra and Ventera)
    • Jumbo frets (Stratocaster performer, SRV, and HM) 
  • Headstock: Streamlined Headstock or CBS-era headstock (Columbia Broadcasting Company)
  • Nut Material: Synthetic Bone


  • Switching: Classic 5-way selector switch
  • Bridge Pickups:
    • Player Series Alnico 5 Strat Single-Coil (Stratocaster Player)
    • Ultra Noiseless Vintage Strat (Stratocaster American Ultra)
    • Fireball Humbucking (Stratocaster Player Plus)
    • 6-Saddle Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo (Stratocaster American Performer)
    • V-Mod II Single-Coil Strat (Stratocaster American Professional II)
  • Additional Pickups:
    • S-1 switch (Stratocaster American Ultra)
    • Greasebucket Tone Circuit (Stratocaster American Performer)


  • Bridge: Fender Synchronized Tremolo

Famous And Successful Players Who Use Stratocasters:

Stratocaster’s Sound

In general, Fender Stratocasters are excellent and versatile electric guitars. Musicians can effortlessly access a variety of sounds by adjusting its 5-way switch, which in turn controls the three single coil pickups. The Stratocaster’s outstanding sounds, which blend well with many musical genres, make it the main choice of world-class artists for recordings and concerts. 

In fact, the Stratocaster’s pickup positions are likely to be recognizable even to people who aren’t familiar with guitars. The center pickup is frequently utilized for blues and country songs, the neck pickup is frequently used for recordings with a focus on round, glassy tones, and the bridge pickup is frequently used for records with a bright, crisp, classic rock sound.

Guitarists that play harder styles like metal and hard rock typically prefer playing Stratocasters with humbuckers, despite the incredible sound of the three single-coil pickups. The bridge on these guitars is ideal for generating the broad and powerful tones that these genres require.

Fender Stratocasters Models and Price:

Player Series$849.99-$979.99
Player Plus Series$1,099.99-$1,129.99
American Original Series$849.99-$1,099.99
Limited Edition Series$1,399.99
75th Anniversary Series$899.99
75th Anniversary Commemorative Series$1,999.99
Aerodyne Series $1,299.99-$1,329.99
American Acoustasonic Series$1,749.99-$1,999.99
American Performer Series$1,449.99
American Professional II Series$1,699.99-$1,749.99
American Ultra Series$2,099.99-$2,599.99
American Vintage II Series$2,099.99-$2,279.99
Artist Series$849.99-$3,499.99
JV Modified Series$1,299.99-$1,329.99
Made in Japan Brand Collaboration Series$3,499.99
Noventa Series$1,099.99
Vintera Series$1,099.99-$1,199.99

Main Comparison Between The Squier Starcaster And Fender Stratocaster 

Electric GuitarBody StyleBody MaterialBody FinishBody Structure
Squier Starcasteroffset arched semi-hollow bodyLaminated MapleGloss PolyurethaneNot Symmetrical
Fender StratocasterDouble Cutaway (Contoured Body)Alder or AshGloss PolyesterNot Symmetrical
Electric GuitarNeck ConstructionNeck MaterialFingerboard MaterialScale Length
Squier StarcasterBolt-onRoasted Maple (Contemporary Active) 
Maple (Classic Vibe and Affinity Series)
Roasted Maple (Contemporary Active) 
Maple (Classic Vibe and Affinity Series)
25.5 inches or 64.77milimeters
Fender StratocasterBolt-onMapleMaple or Rosewood25.5 inches or 64.77milimeters
Electric GuitarSwitchingPickupsControls
Squier Starcaster3-Position ToggleSquier Active Ceramic Humbucker (Contemporary Active)
Fender Wide Range Humbucking (Classic Vibe)
Standard Humbucking (Affinity Series)
Master Volume, Master Tone (Contemporary Active and Affinity Series)
Volume 1. (Neck Pickup), Tone 1: Neck Pickup, Volume 2: Bridge Pickup, Tone 2:Bridge Pickup(Classic Vibe)
Fender StratocasterClassic 5-way selector switchPlayer Series Alnico 5 Strat Single-Coil (Stratocaster Player)
 Ultra Noiseless Vintage Strat (Stratocaster American Ultra)
 Fireball Humbucking (Stratocaster Player Plus)
 6-Saddle Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo (Stratocaster American Performer)
V-Mod II Single-Coil Strat (Stratocaster American Professional II)
S-1 switch (Stratocaster American Ultra)
Greasebucket Tone Circuit (Stratocaster American Performer)
Electric GuitarBridge
Squier Starcaster6-Saddle Adjustable Bridge
Fender StratocasterFender Synchronized Tremolo

Main Takeaway

Compared to the Squier Starcaster, the Fender Stratocaster is unquestionably the superior electric guitar. This is an easy pick, especially considering the price differential, which suggests that the Stratocaster is made of higher-quality materials and is compact with features. However, this does not directly imply that the Squier Starcaster is a subpar electric guitar, though.

The Squier Starcaster is a great electrical guitar considering its price. Squier did an excellent job fusing classic features with contemporary additions. Every penny was invested to create a feature-rich, compact electric guitar that nonetheless conforms to Fender standards. A beginner-friendly guitar, the Starcaster is perfect for novice players. The soft strings it comes with ensure that the user’s finger won’t hurt when playing and changing them, and its light weight makes it highly portable. The Starcaster can produce precise and strong sounds, although not quite as well as more sophisticated models. Overall, the Squier Starcaster is a great electric guitar—especially when you consider how affordable it is.