Review: Fender Tom DeLonge Starcaster

Subscribe to Mixdown Magazine


Review: Fender Tom DeLonge Starcaster

Tom DeLonge Starcaster
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Fender Tom DeLonge Starcaster | Fender Music Australia | RRP: $2099.00

Tom DeLonge is famous for a few guitars that he’s had strung across his shoulders in the last three decades or so. Having been a founding member of blink-182 and Angels & Airwaves, DeLonge has indelibly left his mark on guitar, Fender more recently recognised this with a Seymour Duncan Invader-loaded Stratocaster. While he has a few signature models to his name, there was one that popped up since rejoining blink-182 in 2022: the Starcaster.

Tom DeLonge Starcaster

The Starcaster is of unique makeup, combining multiple famous designs into one. The Starcaster is an offset, semi-hollow electric guitar. Tom’s, like a lot of his own guitars, features a single bridge humbucker with a single Master Volume, the Tom DeLonge Starcaster featuring Treble Bleed wiring. The semi-hollow nature lends itself to DeLonge’s distorted guitar tones, preventing feedback thanks to the centre block, the main body being constructed from laminated maple.

Read more gear reviews here.

The Tom DeLonge Starcaster is, as mentioned before, a semi-hollow electric guitar. The single humbucker in the bridge is a Seymour Duncan SH-5 Duncan Custom, building on the traditional SH-5 for a more souped up sound. The humbucker is wired to a master volume with a Treble Bleed circuit; a simple mod that allows treble frequencies to ‘bleed’ through as you roll your volume down. This is to combat what happens to a more traditionally wired circuit, where as you roll down your volume you lose high end. Pot(entiometer)s act as a variable resistor, and the full frequency spectrum doesn’t always respond the same way to resistance, so high-end can often be lost along the way. This is all to say that the Tom DeLonge Starcaster retains the clarity from the humbucker, allowing you to use your volume to switch easily between the distorted “All the Small Things” tones and the clean clarity of “What’s My Age Again?”

The Starcaster body as a whole is resonant enough for a unique sound, while the rosewood fretboard will feel familiar to many players. Rosewood isn’t quite as hard a wood as maple, so doesn’t have the bright, snappy clarity, but lends itself instead very well to distorted and more high gain sounds. The Starcaster offers that little bit of extra tone in the semi-hollow design, providing a mid-forward presence not unlike an acoustic guitar. The neck is made from roasted maple, with a modern “C” neck shape. It’s familiar to Fender fans, with a streamlined and slick feel, and the bolt-on design helps to control extraneous resonance. The strings are held in tune with a black 6-saddle adjustable bridge and tailpiece, with black Fender locking tuning machines at one at the other, the tuning machines installed into a 70s-style headstock, paying homage to the Starcaster being released in the 70s, a cool look, as well as balancing out the weight of the guitar.

The Tom DeLonge Starcaster is very comfortable, melding the comfort and curve of a semi-hollow guitar as well as the streamlined design of a solid-body. The modern “C” neck shape is breezy to fly around on, while not being as thin as a high performance neck, while retaining enough to grab ahold of. The modern “C” really is a meeting of some of the best specs available.

The sound from the Seymour Duncan SH-5 is as boisterous as you’d expect from a blink-182 signature model, while retaining clarity and punch needed to fill out a punk three-piece, the black speed knob living up to its name and being easy, smooth and speedy to adjust, as well as the numbered known allowing you to recall the perfect settings.

The Starcaster design allows easy access right up to the tippity-top of the 22 medium jumbo frets, the 12” radius being a flatter radius for more modern, often fast playing. This is especially helpful for quick riffs like “Dammit”, “First Date” or the epic ballad “Built This Pool”.

Tom DeLonge Starcaster 2

The Tom DeLonge Starcaster, sonics aside, is a very very cool guitar aesthetically. What makes the guitar so exciting, however, is that you can’t ignore the sonics. The Seymour Duncan SH-5 is a great sounding pickup, arguably all you need, hence the simple circuitry. The tones from the SH-5 are bolstered by the Treble Bleed wiring, allowing the full frequency response to come through no matter where you’ve set the speed knob.

A comfortable player, the Starcaster’s curves serving to be both a comfy guitar as well as a streamlined design. The modern “C” neck is slim enough to fly around on, but not so thin that it’ll feel streamlined or unfamiliar to fans of traditional Fender neck size. The whole guitar rings true, all the while keeping tuning with locking Fender tunes and a stop tailpiece.

The Tom DeLonge Starcaster is his own take on a classic Fender design, used on tour around the world for the multitude of songs that blink-182 need to perform night after night. Unique, memorable and iconic are just a handful of descriptives that both Tom DeLonge and his signature Fender Starcaster share.

For local enquiries, visit Fender Australia.