Sound — 8
My first one sounds okay when plugged in clean or distorted, but it sounds better with clean effects. I play a large variety of music, mostly classic rock and rockabilly, and the Starcaster has the clean and the twang for these categories. Just like your typical single coil strat, the Starcaster has 60-cycle coil hum, unless the selector is in the 2nd and 4th position. My second one was hot rodded and upgraded to sound like a high-end Fender. It sounds great with its noiseless pickups, regardless of whatever effect it is put through. This one had upgraded hardware as well thru a prewired pickgaurd.
Overall Impression — 8
I love classic rock and rockabilly music. The Starcaster is a great match for playing these genres of music because it has twang to it. I have played guitar for 4 years as of this year, and I own a large amount of guitars and basses which I would recommend for the seasoned player before I would recommend this. After all, this is an entry level combo pack. From what I've learned, if you know what you are doing when you modify a guitar, you can make it sound amazing. My second one is an example of this statement. Like I said previously, I was given both of these guitars, so I can't really say much about choice between products it was either yes or no. There are a few upgrades I would recommend for the Starcaster. Upgrade the bridge because the trem will break eventually, upgrade the tuners because these tuners go out of tune easily, upgrade your p-ups and you will have a lean, mean tone machine.
Reliability & Durability — 7
The Starcaster is very durable for a guitar in its price range. Both of my Starcasters have original tuners which I would recommend replacing. The strap buttons are solid, and do not wobble. Even though the Starcater is an entry-level guitar, I would carry it as a backup, and use my second one as the Primary guitar. The finish on my Starcasters is somewhat durable, but it probably will wear off eventually.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Both guitars were secondhand, so I don't know the factory setup. Both guitars had their pickups lowered a little for better sound. Both of my starcasters don't seem to have any flaws from poor construction, but from just cosmetic wear and tear from being played. As usual when I purchase/receive a new guitar, I do a test on everything, tighten screws and nuts, check the jack, etc... both guitars were in playable condition.
Features — 9
I have been given two of these guitars, I do not know the year either one of these were made. The first one I received a year ago is black w/white pickgaurd, and unmodified. It came with nothing. The second one,I recently received it, is black w/ a blue tortoise pickgaurd, has had several mods given to it. I was given everything that came with the second one, which includes: 1 Starcaster, 1 SP 10 amp, 1 gig bag, 1 strap, 1 cable, and a pack of picks. The Starcaster has the typical features of a Standard strat: 3 single coil pickups 21 frets maple neck and fretboard typical Strat controls 1 volume knob, 2 tone, and 5-way selector switch. Tremolo bridge Passive electronics and somewhat cheap but functional tuners that stay in tune through play and travel. Not 100% sure of body wood, but probably basswood or paulownia