Fender Music Australia | fender.com.au | RRP: A$3599
A guitar collection, particularly as a financially un-endowed musician, can be a cumbersome and indulgent burden. Even trimming your electrics can leave you with multiple acoustics, lost in alternate tunings and the minutiae of resonance. Fender’s American Acoustasonic Series is a fix-it-all acoustic and electric cross that might be the most 21st century guitar from the manufacturer yet. The Telecaster is the first to get the Acoustasonic treatment, acting as a litmus test for the unprecedented new model.
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The galaxial axe looks like it’s made for the current trend of pop stars’ nu-authentic rock reinvention; the Telecaster might now be both the vehicle for Dylan going electric, and Gaga going Acoustasonic. The two tone polyester satin matte finish is strikingly cool and deliberately atypical, while the neck’s satin urethane finish gives it a more callous acoustic feel. The modded Telecaster body is beautifully contoured, fitting more comfortably on your lap than the standard model. The headstock is also a nice touch, with the Fender monogram inscribed into the wood.
Fender boasts of the Acoustasonic series’ acoustic resonance and not without good reason; it’s just not quite resonant enough for it to match an acoustic at the same price point. The Acoustasonic has a buoyant tone that fits country twang with steeze, though it audibly lacks the depth and richness of a high end Taylor acoustic.
It might seem like a semantic criticism considering Fender market the Acoustasonic’s acoustic capacity as great for “songwriting, sitting on the couch or late night playing”, but it’s hard to swallow that in a $3600 purchase. Conversely, the Acoustasonic telecaster has great projective volume thanks to the uniquely fashioned sound port. Because the guitar is so lightweight, I found myself rejecting my actual acoustic in favour of the Acoustasonic to noodle around the house.
Fundamentally, this enigmatic guitar was made to be amplified. Fender worked with renowned acoustic pickup makers Fishmans to create a wholly new electronic system, giving birth to a cornucopia of acoustic and electric voicings. The five-tone switch isn’t what you’d normally get on a Telecaster, activating two tones at once (Sound A & B) that can be bled between each other using the knob closest to the bottom of the guitar. This produces a staggering 10 distinct tones, with many options for custom blends.
The work of the Fender Acoustasonic Noiseless magnetic pickup borders on witchcraft; tried even with the dodgiest of leads, no hum could be heard with each tone achingly clear. The flawless frequency range is an absolute testament to the cutting-edge work of both Fender and Fishman, and many will look forward to seeing the implementation of the patent-pending Stringed Instrument Resonance System in other models to come.
Rosewood auditorium’s tone replication is forensic, immediately recalling the distant strums of 1960s folk. The electric tones also carry serious chunk, albeit sounding quite dissimilar to an American Telecaster. The Maple Small Body’s low end is candy-sweet, while the acoustic/electric blends are fit for flawless pub playing. The custom blends is what will keep players returning to this model however; I found that the most applicable tones were often found with the knob middled.
Fender has pushed coverage of the American Acoustasonic Telecaster in tech publications, which makes sense. The guitar is perhaps more a technical marvel anyway than the host of the perfect tone. I hate to invoke the master of none cliche, but it’s difficult to avoid it when talking about this instrument, particularly at its flummoxing price. If you get your hands on one of these for cheap or in a studio setting, they’re plenty of fun and aesthetically beautiful but otherwise, maybe let’s wait till NAMM 2025.
Head to the Fender website for more information about his guitar.