After making waves in early 2019 with the release of their Acoustasonic Telecaster, Fender are doubling down with their latest update to the series. The artisanal newcomers are constructed from exotic tonewoods and are only limited to 250 units worldwide for each model (cocobolo, koa, and ziricote). Up for review is the ziricote variant which, in my humble opinion, looks the best out of the lot.
After snapping open the locks of its official Fender hardshell case, I was immediately at a loss for words. Inside laid a guitar bearing a stunning chocolate-brown ziricote top, matched with black limba for its sides, back and neck, topped off with an ebony fretboard. The figuring and colour gradient on every inch of this guitar – body, neck, and fretboard – is simply extraordinary. Special mentions have to be made for the complementing dark wooden tuning pegs and the company’s logo etched onto the headstock. Fender have really gone the extra mile with this guitar, and it really shows right from the onset.
The meticulous craftsmanship doesn’t end with mere assemblage. Fender’s modern “deep C” shaped neck carve is immediately recognisable – electric guitar players will feel right at home with this axe. The guitar also features a subtly bevelled bottom face that acts as a supremely comfortable forearm rest. For electronics, the Acoustasonic series utilises a unique three pickup configuration: an under-saddle Piezo pickup, an internal body sensor that highlights percussion, and a single N4 noiseless pickup complete with a matching wooden cover. These are controlled by two options: a Stratocaster-esque five-way switch, and a pair of knobs – volume and voicing. The voicing knob grants a completely new voice when rolled to each extremity, which means you have access to ten different tones at a moment’s notice. Blending the two voices is also an incredibly satisfying process and can lead to a virtually infinite number of inspirational sounds at your disposal.
In terms of sonic capability, this guitar absolutely requires to be plugged in to be used at its full potential. While the carefully engineered sound hole does project somewhat, the Acoustasonic Telecaster lacks the tonal depth and booming nature of a traditional acoustic guitar. It’ll suffice for a casual living room strum, but if you’re looking to jam with other guitarists unplugged, you may find yourself occasionally drowned out by larger-bodied acoustics.
When plugged in, the Acoustasonic Telecaster morphs into a vehicle for creativity. With the five-way switch pointed towards the neck, you’ve got access to a range of simulated tonewoods and body shapes: including rosewood and mahogany dreadnoughts, a rosewood auditorium, and a maple small-bodied acoustic. Generally, these all sound fairly authentic. The dreadnoughts growl with their heightened bass presence, while the auditorium and small-bodied models sparkle in both the mid and high frequencies.
Head down towards the middle and bridge, and you’ve got more tones geared towards the street and stage. The middle position offers a Brazilian rosewood dreadnought with the option to add the body pickup to the mix, perfect for adding some creative percussion to loops. The final two positions offer either a blend of an electric edge to a mahogany dreadnought, or a clean electric tone with optional grit. These voicings are excellent for solo bar gigs and open mics, with the hybrid mode even seeming to be a perfect match for Fender’s new Smolder Acoustic Overdrive.
While each pair of voices generally sounded great, I wish Fender had modified the electronics to better highlight the tonal flavours of the exotic woods used, which feels like a slightly missed opportunity. Even with its wealth of rich sounds, jaw-dropping aesthetics and fantastic playability, it’s hard to ignore its extremely hefty price tag – close to double the price of a standard mahogany Acoustasonic. As one of Fender’s most premium offerings, this guitar may pander only to serious collectors or tonewood connoisseurs.
Hits and Misses
Absolutely stunning aesthetics
Flawless build quality
Great range of usable tones
Extremely steep price tag