While guitar makers have been combining electronic components with acoustic instruments since the 1930s, conventional electric and acoustic guitars remain largely separate instruments with their own unique sounds, strengths, and limitations. Sure, an electric pickup can be placed in an acoustic guitar, but it still won’t sound like a solid body electric guitar, or vice versa. Everything changed for Fender Musical Instruments in 2010 when the company, which has been producing guitars since 1946, introduced its line of Acoustasonic hybrid guitars, effectively blurring the line between acoustic and electric and offering a completely unique way to produce both sounds. with one instrument. I recently had the chance to test out the latest Acoustasonic Player Telecaster and, as someone who has never played a true hybrid guitar, I found the experience so fun, inspiring and surprising. Let’s see if the Fender Acoustasonic Player Telecaster’s range of sounds suits a range of players.
The design of the Fender Acoustasonic Player Telecaster
Following in the footsteps of the original, more expensive Acoustasonic line, the all-new Fender Acoustasonic Player Telecaster comes from Fender’s all-new factory in Ensenada, Mexico, and aims to bring the guitar’s versatility to a wider player base. via a simplified design that costs around 40% less than that of its predecessors. Visually, the guitar features the same quirky combination of organic delicacy and retro-futuristic shapes that the Acoustasonic line is known for, while its electronics have been stripped down to the essentials to provide a simpler playing experience.
At its core, the Acoustasonic Player Telecaster is built like a standard acoustic guitar: it has a mahogany body and neck with a reinforced spruce top, it’s hollow, and it features a traditional acoustic-style bridge. This combination of design features allows the guitar to project and resonate with a level of definition and clarity similar to a traditional acoustic guitar, even when not plugged in, despite a much smaller body. The guitar also features a naturally fat and easy-playing rosewood fingerboard, which is a cheaper alternative to the denser ebony found in the fingerboard of the original American-made Acoustasonic.
To provide the electronic element of its hybrid design, the Acoustasonic Player Telecaster, whose inspiration dates in part to the first mass-produced solid-body guitars released in 1950, uses a pair of pickups designed in collaboration between Fender and Fish man. The first is a sleek and quiet Telecaster-style pickup that sits between the guitar’s soundhole and bridge, while the other is a mini piezo-style pickup that lives under the saddle. These pickups work in concert with the guitar’s three-way switch to deliver six handpicked amplified sounds and an infinite number of combinations thereof via a mix knob. The three-way switch system is an adaptation of the five-way system found on American Acoustasonic guitars, which feature 10 sounds to work with. The entire electronic system is powered by a single 9V battery and can run for around 22 hours continuously before needing to be replaced.
Getting started with the Fender Acoustasonic Player Telecaster
The Fender Acoustasonic Player Telecaster comes in a Fender F1225 gig bag and is sprung and ready to play right out of the box. The first thing I noticed was how light the Acoustasonic Player Telecaster felt in my hands – it weighs just under 5 pounds – and, sitting down with it, I felt a slight downward pull on the left side of the guitar due to the difference in weight between the body and the neck. It’s not particularly uncommon to experience a “neck dive” with guitars, but I think in this case the effect was pronounced due to the small hollow body of the guitar and its solid wood handle.
The sound of the Fender Acoustasonic Player Telecaster
To explore the range of tonal capabilities of the Fender Acoustasonic Player Telecaster, I used a combination of heavy chord strumming with a pick, single-note lines, and fingerpicking. The test consisted of playing unamplified with and without a microphone, as well as through a Fender ’68 Custom Deluxe Reverb amplifier. For microphone testing, I used a Barbaric Amplification BA49C capacitor on the body of the guitar combined with a Royer 121 ribbon mic on the neck and recorded directly into Apple Logic Pro X through a Universal Audio Apollo x8 interface.
When played as a purely unamplified acoustic instrument, I found the Fender Acoustasonic Player Telecaster to be modest in its output volume and not particularly well balanced harmonically. The guitar’s highly responsive spruce top allowed the instrument to project plenty of rhythmic punch and string attack, but its shallow body and small sound hole lacked the ability to push bass and midrange. significantly lower mid frequencies. To be very clear, I’m referring to the guitar’s ability to stand up to other traditional acoustic guitars, whether unplugged or in front of a microphone; I found its performance, in this case, slightly disappointing, but this was done for testing purposes and has little to do with the actual hybrid electronic performance of the instrument.
After testing out the guitar’s unpowered sound, I turned on my amp and began my cycle through the six preset sounds with the three-way blade in position one. In this position, the guitar’s boosted sound emulates that of a traditional spruce and mahogany acoustic guitar like the Martin D-18, with the blend knob providing a gradient between the sound of a large dreadnought guitar and an acoustic of small body living room. Compared to the rather toothless sound of the instrument when unplugged, this mode offered a harmonically rich and full acoustic guitar sound with perfect emulations of every body type. In dreadnought mode, the Acoustasonic Player Telecaster was absolutely booming and full of sustain, while small body mode gave a livelier, almost brassy quality to the guitar’s amplified sound.
In position two of the switch, the Acoustasonic Player Telecaster goes into lo-fi mode, allowing players access to the pure, unaffected sound of the piezo pickup under the saddle. To me, this mode felt so direct, sensitive, and detailed that I felt the term “lo-fi” was selling it a bit short. The isolated sound from the piezo pickup results in an almost clinical guitar sound that showcases a lot of accidental finger and string noise, which I can see having many interesting creative applications, especially when used with effects. In this mode, the blend knob provides access to DSP-compatible crunch overdrive, which users can add to taste or crank up all the way. I really liked the quality of this overdrive, which darkened and compressed the signal in a very smooth and musical way reminiscent of the saturation of a tape.
The final and rightmost position of the switch engages the quiet bridge pickup to activate the guitar’s traditional Telecaster tone, with the blend knob as a toggle between clean and overdriven tones. I was initially taken aback by this mode, expecting it to more or less replicate the sound of a solid body Telecaster. As I continued to play I realized that what the guitar does is a little more special than that: the pickup offers all the twang, spank and responsiveness of a classic Telecaster – think Rolling’s “Start Me Up”. Stones – while the hollow body and acoustic hardware provide a subtle warmth and resonance that is normally absent from its solid body counterpart. The result is that the Acoustasonic Player Telecaster delivers a very unique and versatile guitar tone while channeling the same attitude, spirit and playability of its namesake.
So who should buy the Fender Acoustasonic Player Telecaster?
The Fender Acoustasonic Player Telecaster is not a traditional acoustic or electric guitar, but that’s exactly why it might be desirable for some players. It has meticulously crafted sounds that are easy to manipulate and offer a creative immediacy that can be appealing to songwriters and improvisers alike. Musicians looking to streamline their workflow and eliminate the hassle of traveling with two instruments will also appreciate the guitar’s ability to produce authentic acoustic and electric guitar tones with a responsive, fun-to-play feel. While the Acoustasonic Player Telecaster doesn’t quite hold up as an unplugged guitar and some may be put off by its eye-catching appearance, it’s undoubtedly an incredibly unique and well-built musical tool that’s versatile enough to be your studio or favorite scene. chopped.