Fender brings new meaning to the term acoustic/electric with their newest ACOUSTASONIC®!
In a day and age where one can have every amp ever made in a rack-mountable box, or every type of effects pedal crammed into a stompbox; modern guitarists truly have a world of tone at their fingertips. As music evolves, so too does technology. As an added benefit to being more portable and rugged, these modern modelers grow increasingly more convincing with every new release sounding more and more like the gear they are emulating. As an added benefit, these modelers are crammed with SO many tone options, that the amounts of inspiration for players both new and seasoned is nearly limitless.
One thing that has stayed fairly constant over the years however (amidst all of this growing technology), is the guitar itself. Most mainstream acoustics look and work exactly how they did hundreds of years ago. The same applies to mainstream electrics. While there are plenty of exceptions, especially from boutique builders, the majority of guitars you see for sale today still do things “by the book” and according to generations of tradition. And being that so many guitarists are so damn picky, it’s no surprise that new innovations and more radical ideas in the guitar's evolution can often fall on deaf ears.
As mentioned above, there are plenty of boutique builders who are taking the concept of acoustics and electrics into the 21st century, but often major manufacturers stick with what they know- the styles and traditions of what put them on the map. But every once in a while, we’ll see one of those major brands hang their neck out a bit in the quest to try something new and fresh in the world of our beloved six string. In this week’s String Thing, we’re talking about Fender’s latest guitar that is making waves across the internet this week!
Known as the Acoustasonic® line, these guitars have been turning plenty of heads since debuting a few years ago. Fender has taken the shapes and design cues of their iconic Telecaster and Stratocaster, added a soundhole, resonance chamber, some new electrical guts; and morphed them into an acoustic that doubles as an electric. Think of it is a guitar that blends the feel and sounds of an electric with the tonal possibilities of an acoustic.
Sure there are plenty of "acoustic/electrics" out there; aka acoustic guitars that you can plug in via a 1/4" jack. But, if you’ve plugged your old acoustic/electric into your actual amp and tried to add distortion, or play at louder volumes, you’ll be all too familiar with things not sounding quite right at all as you try your hardest to tame the onslaught of feedback and chaotic hum.
We’re not saying it can't be done however...
But not all of us are Zakk Wylde, nor do all of us want to carry that epic rig you see above to get those insane sounds out of an acoustic. What if you could bring one guitar with you to open mics and gigs that could easily be at home in an electric setting, and with the turn of a few knobs and/or switches, create an authentic sounding acoustic tone as well?
These Acoustasonic® guitars are equipped to do just that- with multiple types of pickups to assist in creating electric and acoustic tones with the help of a built-in digital signal processor. This lets players easily flip through 10 different sounds, both acoustic and electric, before you even touch your toe to a pedal.
Spankin' new for 2021 however, is the Acoustasonic® Jazzmaster, which not only defies convention of typical electrics and acoustics, but also has even more new features compared to the Acoustasonic® Teles and Strats that came before it. First of all, the Jazzmaster shape means that this guitar gets a much larger body than the Strats and Teles, increasing tone and resonance. The guitar also boasts a brand-new humbucking pickup that was designed by Tim Shaw that will offer even more bold tones and possibilities, especially when used in higher gain settings.
While it may not look like it, the guitar actually features three unique sets of pickups: one being the above-mentioned Tim Shaw humbucker, the second being a set of under-saddle piezoelectric pickups, and the third is an internal body sensor that helps turn the guitar into a percussive instrument- just like a real acoustic guitar (a la Andy McKee)! Pretty crazy to see this 60+ year-old design being shown a modern twist. (Plus, who'd have thought we’d ever see a Jazzmaster without a trem?!)
The guitar shown below is finished in an Arctic White, but the Acoustasonic® Jazzmaster family offers players 5 colors to choose from: Ocean Turquoise, Natural wood, Tungsten, and the always-in-fashion Tobacco Sunburst.
The guitar features the classic Fender “C” neck shape, and the neck blends into the body with contour curves meaning this is finally an acoustic that feels comfortable to solo on! Kudos to Fender for finishing the neck with a satin urethane. The larger Jazzmaster body sounds great plugged in, but also sounds fantastic unplugged as well- meaning it’s a guitar that can be a great tool for quiet practice and low volume songwriting sessions. Also worth mentioning are the guitar’s mahogany body and neck, 25.5” scale, Graph Tech Tusq nut, Ebony fingerboard, Narrow Tall frets, and a single mono output with a USB battery charger to keep the guitar’s wizardry charged up (don’t worry- the battery offers 20 hours of playtime). But sorry again lefties, there are no left-handed models...
This 21st century Jazzmaster boasts five pickup positions with two voices each that you can then further mix up using the blend knob. This gives players a LOT of options when it comes into dialing both new as well as more familiar tones.
💥 FRET12 PROTIP:
Here is an at-a-glance breakdown to see how the tones are laid out:
1 = Humbucker mode (electric tones - fat to clean)
2 = Piezoelectric mode (piezo tones & plugged-in acoustic tones)
3 = Acoustic mode using the guitar’s Body Sensor
4/5 = More acoustic modes (dreadnaughts) using variations of Mode 3.
But enough chatting about tone. Tone is best experienced when heard, so feast your eyes and ears on this great new Fender Demo by Mason Stoops:
Curious to hear how the Acoustasonic® Jazzmaster stacks up against a real-deal boutique Australian $2k Maton 808 acoustic? Check out this A/B test:
But enough with the pretty acoustic indie folk riffs- do you like your riffs heavy and loud? While it may not look the part, this thing will actually deliver the goods on a high-gain sound!
Yes, you read that right. Don’t believe me? Who better to demo the heavy sounds than Ola Englund:
And after hearing this crazy guitar do all of the chugs, djents, and djuns; why not cleanse your palette with the soothing styles of Paul Davids?
So, what say you, fellow String Things? Is this guitar a veritable swiss army knife? Is it a great solution for open mic weeked warriors or traveling musicians and songwriters? Or is it just a bit too 'stylistically-off' from tradition to warrant the 2k price tag?