This guitar is as divisive as as it is innovative. In this Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster review we’re going to delve into the world of hybrid electric and acoustic guitars. This guitar usually prompts you to look twice thanks to it’s frankly odd aesthetics.
Its not until you play this guitar that you get an idea of it’s dynamism. We’ll run through the specs and talk about tone. Finally we’ll discuss value and practicality. Let’s get started.
Overview of Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster
The Acoustasonic is a hollow bodied full scale (25.5″) guitar that’s not sure if it’s an acoustic or an electric guitar. The back and sides of the guitar are mahogany and the top is solid Sitka Spruce, giving it good punch.
The body is in the classic Telecaster shape, with the exception of a contoured heel where your strumming arm rests. It makes the guitar look a little asymmetrical, but it’s makes it much more comfortable to play. The guitar has a satin matte finish, which shows off the grain of the wood. One thing that you need to be careful about is scratches. I get the feeling the finish will mark easily.
Being semi-acoustic in design there’s transverse bracing, which stiffens up the joint to the fingerboard to reduce tonal breakup. The mahogany neck is bolted into the body, a feature common in many Telecasters.
The neck profile is “Deep C”, which will feel very familiar to Telecaster players. Indeed, the neck makes it feel like you’re playing an electric guitar with acoustic strings.
The fingerboard material is Ebony, which is extremely durable and smooth. Ebony has similar tonal properties to maple. Telecaster players will be pleased to find 22 narrow/tall frets in a nod to some of the classic Telecaster designs. White dot inalys mark out the key frets. A 12″ fingerboard radius makes it slightly flatter at the higher frets to make lead work easier.
The Acoustasonic Telecaster borrows a design principal from the American Ultra series with the contoured heel at the neck joint, making it easier to reach the higher frets without straining your fretting hand. Combined with the satin urethane finish on the neck, traversing the fingerboard is a comfortable affair.
The nut is made from GraphTech TUSQ, which isn’t bone but has it’s advantages such as being able to produce more sustain. It’s definitely better than the plastic or faux plastic nuts found on cheaper guitars. The headstock is the same shape as that found on a Telecaster. A slight twist is that the Fender logo is etched into the headstock, which looks very nice.
Tuning is handled by a set of Fender standard cast tuning machines that hold their tune well.
At the other end of the guitar is an asymmetrical bridge, taken straight from acoustic guitars with GraphTech TUSQ bridge pins to keep the strings anchored.
The genius of this guitar is in the electronics. The Acoustasonic features 3 pickups. A single coil Fender Acoustasonic Noiseless pickup sits at the bridge, which produces tones synonymous with the Telecaster. A Fishman Acoustasonic enhancer picks up the resonance to provide enhanced harmonics and also picks up percussive sounds. An under saddle Piezo pickup deals with the amplified acoustic tones.
So we have three pickups in this guitar, big whoop! But wait, it’s when you introduce the control system that things get really interesting. There’s a 5-way pickup selector switch that combines with a MOD control knob to deliver a huge range of tones.
The MOD control knob allows you to select position A or B in combination with any of the pickup switch positions. For a beginning that’s 10 different tone combinations you can select. However the MOD control knob isn’t a selector switch, so you can blend the two positions to create an even wider range of tones.
Here are the basic tonal possibilities available at each pickup position:
- Position 5a (Neck) – Dreadnought shape with Rosewood back and sides and a Sitka Spruce top – Very bright and clean tone
- Position 5b – Auditorium shape with Rosewood back and sides and an Alpine Spruce top – more low and mid than position A
- Position 4a – Englemann Spruce top with maple back and sides – very clean with less presence
- Position 4b – Dreadnought shape with mahogany back and sides and a Sitka Spruce top – more bottom end than position A
- Position 3a – Dreadnought shape with Brazilian Rosewood back and sides and a Sitka Spruce top – quite a dry acoustic signal
- Position 3b – The same as Position 3a but using the sensing Fishman pickup – good to add percussion
- Position 2a – Dreadnought shape with mahogany back and sides and a Sitka Spruce top – sounds like a miced up dreadnought guitar
- Position 2b – Blended electric pickup to mix acoustic and electric tones – provides more attack
- Position 1a – Single coil electric style
- Position 1b – Fat semi-clean for a more broken up electric style
Using the MOD control knob you can mix the tones of any pickup position, so at position 2 you can start to introduce the Acoustasonic electric pickup into your tone. The Acoustasonic will play unplugged too, sounding somewhere between an acoustic and an unplugged electric guitar. You can easily simulate that using the master volume control knob even when plugged in.
It’s not the best in terms of projection, after all it’s not an acoustic guitar, but it’s ok if you just want to noodle around. The Acoustasonic comes with a set of Fender Dura Tone 860CL .011’s. It’s a bit strange playing something that for all intents and purposes feels like an electric guitar with acoustic strings. It takes a little getting used to.
You might notice that there’s no battery compartment, which you usually find on electric-acoustic guitars. The battery is housed inside the guitar and is rechargeable with a USB cable. Initially I thought that might be a drawback, but you get around 20 hours from a charge and most importantly you can charge the battery whilst you’re playing the guitar. The charging port is a little flimsy, something to watch.
A nice little bonus with this guitar is the inclusion of a Deluxe Fender Gig Bag, so you don’t need to worry about finding another case.
Alright, let’s talk about the elephant in the room, the price. This isn’t a cheap guitar. There are two main reasons why. The first is that it’s made in the Fender factory in Corona, California, which produces Fender’s flagship guitars.
The second is the innovation and craft that’s gone into making the Acoustasonic. If a shortcut had been made or a cost cut the guitar would be terrible. Imagine an already divisive guitar sounding terrible too. It’d be a complete failure. The requirement for this guitar to produce top quality tones and the engineering required to construct it makes it entirely appropriate to be constructed at Fender’s USA factory.
It’s expensive, it’s a bit odd looking but it’s a whole new concept that Fender appears to have nailed!
The Acoustasonic Telecaster is highly innovative in both it’s design and it’s approach. There’s a lot to like, including it’s contours that make playing much more comfortable. Here are the best bits:
- Tons of Tones
- Comfortable to Play
- American Made in California
There are always some drawbacks. When looking at higher end guitars drawbacks are usually subject to personal preference, but there are some practical problems. Here are the worst offenders:
- Charging Port is a Bit Flimsy
- The Finish is Prone to Scratches
The Acoustasonic Telecaster is certainly different. Both in terms of it’s look and it’s engineering. For those reasons it’s going to be a divisive guitar. It’s definitely one that you’ll have to look at twice if you pass it in a guitar store.
But in terms of it’s features, Fender has pushed the boundaries with the Acoustasonic. The wide variety of tones is already a top feature, but then add in the ability to be able to switch between a variety of acoustic tones and electric without needing to swap guitars. That’s pretty amazing!
Sure the guitar is expensive, but it’s made in Fender’s USA factory and show me another guitar that can blend different styles of acoustic guitar into one tone. It’s good that a gig bag is included because this guitar will be prone to scratches and marking due to the finish so be careful with it if you get one. The charging port is a little disappointing, feeling a little flimsy. That’s another thing to be careful about.
In terms of it’s practicality it’s plenty up to the task of gigging and means less guitar changes between songs. You might just get more pairs of eyes on you trying to figure what guitar you’re playing too! Want to know more about the Acoustasonic Telecaster? Click the link below.
Looking for something more traditional? Check out my Acoustic Guitar page for more. I hope you’ve found this post useful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page.
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