Nothing is more intimate than the relationship between a guitar player and their favourite, well-worn acoustic. The two are pressed close at the torso, sewn together by the vibration that one coerces from the strings of the other, the former hunched over the latter like a mother cradling her child. For most of us, this is the image of what it was like to fall in love with the instrument in the first place. Eventually, that romantic entanglement is augmented by the all too human desire to make oneself known, and the idea of performance comes flitting through the window. While there are ways and means of using electric guitar amps for projection purposes, most of which only get you to turd polish territory, the specificity of an acoustic focused amplification system has for a long time been the best option outside of relying on beat up, old house DI boxes.
Many of you may be familiar with Fender’s first successful foray into acoustic amplification territory, the Acoustasonic. Those caramel dream factories have long been the most reliable answer to many performers’ question, ‘How do I make this thing louder?’ Why change the script on something that has worked for so long is the first thing I wondered, but the rub here seems to be not so much improving an existing design but augmenting the wider catalogue. There are several noticeable differences between the two ranges, so much so that they’re barely worth comparing.
The Acoustic 100 is a sleeker, much more modern take on the same rubric. There are two identical channels mirroring each other on either side of the top plate. The inputs facilitate both TRS and XLR inputs, pitching the amp directly at the singer/songwriter set, and both sides are in command of a pitch inverter, simple three-band EQ and a digital effects stage. All of this is housed within a super stylish Scandinavian influenced polished plywood back and sides. Extra flourishes like headphone out, aux in and optional footswitch make the unit not only great to look at but much more versatile than its predecessors.
While it is essentially a digital signal processor, the one thing that I noticed upon plugging in is that it does not reduce the natural colour and charisma of your favourite wooden box. If anything, the thorough, zero tolerance nature of the digital brain at play enhances the EQ and phase cancellation capabilities in a much cleaner way than simple circuitry can. The guitar I gave over to the machine was a parlour sized Takamine that I alternately like and malign for its boxy midrange. Through the Acoustic 100 I was able to tame some of the plonk as well as boost enough of the low end to bring it closer to dreadnought-esque warmth without straying into the arms of imitation. It’s a great tone-shaping tool first and foremost in that it is as tasteful as you’ll ever be.
Fender has been one of the biggest tastemakers for the better part of a century. It stands to reason then that they would stand back a minute, stroke their chins and distil the wants and needs of acoustic performers down to their key elements as they have done here. Pair it with one of the new Paramount range of acoustic guitars and you’ll have your audience forgetting their electrics ever existed.
Hits and Misses
Stylish Scandinavian design coupled with an incredibly helpful EQ stage
No tube warmth