Recently, we saw the first of an order of Fender’s new-for-2019, highly acclaimed American Acoustasonic Telecasters. These much-discussed guitars have created possibly one of the biggest buzzes we witnessed at NAMM this year, and that buzz has showed no signs of slowing down. And with good reason. Whether they’re your cup of tea or not, you’re probably talking about them. Few guitars have dazzled and perplexed people in equal measure, for quite some time. So let’s take a closer look, and find out why.
In case you’ve been secluded from the guitar world long enough not to know the crux of this guitar’s design, it is essentially a true acoustic guitar – completely hollow – whose shape is inspired by the Telecaster. The concept is to create a single, thin-profile electroacoustic guitar, with an advanced pickup system, allowing you to interchangeably select between different profile acoustic guitars, while also adding in a magnetic bridge pickup, which transforms the instrument into a Tele. The question is – did it succeed?
In our humble opinion, the Acoustasonic represents a very finely made guitar, which lives up to its ambitious mission statement. The acoustic tones are really spot-on – they sound exactly the way you’d expect a myriad of plugged-in acoustic guitars to sound. Courtesy of a 5-way blade, and its ‘mod knob’ that allows you to taper your way through settings A and B (fully open or closed control setting, and everything in between), you can get a total of ten different sounds from this guitar. Seven of these are acoustic models, and 3 of them incorporate the Fender N4 noiseless magnetic pickup.
We won’t list all the tones out here. Instead, we will refer you to our dedicated video review as part of our Focus on Sound YouTube series, where we provide a detailed run-through of each switch position, and what it’s supposed to model.
Perhaps one of the most interesting tones available, can be found in positions 1A, B and 2B: the three that incorporate the magnetic pickup. Position 2B incorporates a blend of acoustic and electric signals, which adds a little more jangle to your straight-up, Tele electric tone, while 1A and B each provide pure magnetic pickup signal; the former is a ‘clean’, unboosted tone, while the latter is a hotter ‘semi-clean’ tone, as Fender have termed it.
Aside from the magnetic N4 pickup, the Acoustasonic makes use of two Fishman pickups, as well: and under-saddle piezo pickup, and a ‘body sensor’. The latter allows you to blend in resonance coming off the guitar’s mahogany body and Sitka spruce top – perfect for those players who like incorporating percussive elements into their performances.
Feel-wise, the guitar feels lightweight, but balanced. Made largely from magohany, both the body finish and the neck’s satin urethane finish, allow you to really feel that skin-on-wood contact: and few guitars feel this good. You can feel the grain and the pores in the wood, as you play, and no traction whatsoever. The experience is quite effortless.
Fender supply these guitars strung with a Bronze set of strings – wound up until the high B and E, allowing easy bending on these two strings for bending. The result is that you get the firm, but zesty response of a set of acoustic strings for the acoustic tones, and a metallic chime, when you dial in the magnetic pickup, which adds character to the plugged-in tones, when you run the guitar through a traditional electric guitar amplifier.
This guitar really is a Swiss army knife among instruments, yet doesn’t compromise on quality, from any standpoint. The build quality, feel and plethora of available tones are all of equally high calibre, and it’s evident that Fender has targeted this instrument a the professional musician who wants something uniquely powerful, to suit a whole host of different musical scenarios. We think that gigging musicians who want supreme performance in the live arena, with the convenience of a single instrument, will find this guitar to be a perfect match for them, for instance. If you’re fast, you might even find that we have some of these guitars left at our Denmark Street store – the interest has been huge, and the demand means that Fender is often short on supply, resulting in long waits before any of us get to see these guitars.
Are they worth the hype? In a nutshell, they are. And it’s only when you pick one up for yourself, that you really start to understand why.