Just when many were starting to wonder whether Fender had lost its sense of imagination, they surprised us all by unveiling the Acoustasonic Tele. Although it is just one of many of Fender’s releases from the 2019 NAMM Show, there’s no doubt that the Acoustasonic is the most significant – and daring.
Its looks are certainly divisive, but underneath the Acoustasonic’s unique exterior, you’ll realise that this instrument is packed full of innovation and technology. Aiming to offer both acoustic and electric players a guitar that can seamlessly cover the sonics of both instruments, the Acoustasonic could become an instant hit with modern singer-songwriters.
However, The Fender Acoustasonic Tele isn’t actually the first guitar designed for this purpose. That’s because the product it’s attempting to dethrone is the Taylor T5Z; a guitar that has been available for half a decade. Still in production, the T5Z has been a reasonable success for Taylor.
But it’s fair to say that the hybrid guitar market in which it occupies hasn’t been fully exploited yet. And that’s why Fender has developed the Acoustasonic Tele; to take control of this market and draw players towards it. For the remainder of this article, we’re going to breakdown the features of each instrument and compare them.
Fender Acoustasonic Tele
Like we alluded to in the introduction, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Fender has played it safe for a few years. Of course, they are aware that their guitars will always be popular, with iconic models like the Stratocaster and Telecaster setting the precedent for electric guitar designs back in the ’50s. But to remain relevant, all companies must keep one eye on future trends.
It’s clear that Fender has observed the current state of the market, and identified something that most modern musicians seek – a versatile instrument. The Fender Acoustasonic Tele certainly breaks the mould and meets this criteria. Although it’s clearly based on the classic Tele shape, almost every other aspect of this distinctive guitar goes against Fender’s grain. Let’s take a closer look…
The most striking aesthetic feature of the Fender Acoustasonic Tele is its soundhole. Whereas the Taylor T5Z is a bit more in-keeping with the looks of a semi-hollow electric guitar, the Acoustasonic almost fully embraces the appearance of a traditional acoustic. Featuring a full hollow body based on Fender’s innovative ‘Stringed Instrument Resonance System’ (SIRS), this allows the Acoustasonic to achieve the response and harmonic breadth of a typical acoustic guitar.
It doesn’t simply end there though, as Fender has also crafted the Acoustasonic Tele entirely from Mahogany. This is unusual, as Fender’s common tonewood of choice for guitar bodies is Alder, a balanced-sounding material with a bright mid-range. However, Mahogany is more synonymous with acoustic guitar construction, delivering a rich sound with a warm low-end. What this further proves is that Fender has designed its Acoustasonic Tele to be more ‘acoustic-like’ than electric.
The Fender Acoustasonic Tele’s neck is also made of Mahogany, to add further tonal depth. Although its headstock retains the classic Tele vibe, the Acoustasonic’s neck is shaped to Fender’s Modern “Deep C” profile, to strike the perfect balance between electric and acoustic neck carves. However, it’s Ebony fingerboard is fitted with narrow tall frets, which are more akin to the frets you’d find on acoustics. To ensure that electric guitarists don’t feel alienated though, Fender has given the Acoustasonic Tele 22 frets. They’ve even sculpted the heel to provide excellent access to the higher register!
Alongside its unique construction, the Fender Acoustasonic Tele’s electronics are also rather special. Powered by a revolutionary Fender and Fishman-designed acoustic engine, you can easily transition from a convincing acoustic sound to a traditional electric rhythm tone on-the-fly – and everything between.
A proprietary blend of classic analogue and future technologies, the acoustic engine optimises the guitar’s natural sound and modifies its resonance to deliver a curated collection of voices. These acoustic and electric voices can be used independently, but you can also blend them via the ‘Mod Knob’ to create experimental sounds. Fender’s Acoustasonic Noiseless magnetic pickup lets you use them simultaneously too – very cool!
With the Acoustasonic Tele, Fender has also addressed the issues that commonly afflict electro-acoustic guitars onstage, where feedback can interrupt a set. Fender sought to eliminate that problem with the acoustic engine, but the smaller Tele body shape also assists in cutting out unwanted noise.