Video: Hear Fender's Groundbreaking Acoustasonic Telecaster Hybrid

Fender has given us a lot of new guitars to get excited about over the past few years. And while there have been some bold and fresh ideas—like the Parallel Universe series that mixed and matched features from various historic Fenders—their new guitar releases typically represent refinements or reiterations of long-standing templates and core models.

People dig the new American Professional and Performer models, for instance, but no one would consider them a major departure from the company's tried-and-true formulas.

This week, though, Fender is launching something that goes well beyond anything they've done before and taps deep into their long-standing legacy of genuine guitar innovation: the Fender Acoustasonic.

Launching at NAMM on Thursday, the Acoustasonic already lays a convincing claim to the mantle of most versatile guitar on the market. As you can hear in our video above, the range of sounds it can produce is extensive, convincing, and inspiring. It's a new type of hybrid instrument that could prove an ideal solution for a generation of gigging and studio guitarists in need of one instrument that can cover just about everything.

Now some of you may be thinking that this design looks to be little more than a souped-up version of the Stratacoustic model, one of many thin-body, electric-style acoustics already on the market. Not the case. The new Acoustasonic is a reimagining of the entire acoustic-electric hybrid paradigm from the inside out.

This guitar was designed over the course of several years to deliver genuine acoustic tonality, classic Fender electric tones, and all the various shades and colors that sit in between.

When you strum it unplugged, it sounds like an acoustic guitar. Play it plugged in, and at the twist of a knob, you can change what kind of acoustic it sounds like. And on its electric settings, when run through an amp like a Deluxe Reverb, it sounds like a Tele. It's lightweight and resonant, playable and engaging, and perhaps most importantly, it feels like a Fender.

To hear "Wooden Spaces," Joe's original song written and performed entirely on the new Acoustasonic Telecaster, you can listen here, or you can find the track on Spotify and iTunes.

How It Works

The Acoustasonic relies on what Fender calls its "Stringed Instrument Resonance System" which sits just on the other side of that soundhole and works to broaden and enhance the natural tones of the Acoustasonic’s hollow body. Fender is proud of the research and development that went into this system, and it's this technical achievement that unlocked their ability to draw the tones of a more conventional acoustic out of a guitar the size of a Telecaster.

These core acoustic sounds are then amplified via a set of three different pickups. Beneath the bridge there's a Fishman Matrix Narrow pickup and "Acoustasonic Enhancer," which blend with an above-board Fender Noiseless pickup that was designed just for this model. These various elements all combine to output 10 distinct voices covering the gamut of contemporary guitar styles and timbres.

The Sounds of the Acoustasonic

On the Acoustasonic, you can switch between five main modes via a five-way voice selector. For each of these positions, the Mod Knob allows you to blend between two different voices. As you can see in Fender's descriptions below, these voices range from pure classic acoustic to archetypal Fender electric. Position 4, for instance, is primed for more delicate fingerstyle playing, while Position 3 is a prime candidate for those beach bum percussive guitarists.

Position 5: Core Acoustics
A: Sitka Spruce/Rosewood Dreadnought

Deep bass meets strident trebles for a traditional acoustic voice. Great for big bold strumming.

B: Alpine Spruce/Rosewood Auditorium

Tighter and brighter for a more modern/pop sound and a detailed midrange perfect for strumming or fingerstyle.

Position 4: Alternative Acoustics
A: Engelmann Spruce/Maple Small-Body

Intimate, parlor-inspired voice that’s articulate and bright, best for delicate playing.

B: Sitka Spruce/Mahogany Dreadnought

Full midrange with a deep bass voice that works well for rootsy strumming or fingerstyle.

Position 3: Percussion & Enhanced Harmonics
A: Sitka Spruce/Brazilian Rosewood Dreadnought

Rich and earthy with complex overtones.

B: Adds body pickup to the above voice (up to a predetermined maximum blend)

All of the above plus a percussive top and enhanced harmonics that pop.

Position 2: Acoustics & Electric Blend
A: Sitka Spruce/Mahogany Dreadnought

Full-bodied, no nonsense acoustic that’s earthy and articulate with a wide dynamic range.

B: Blends electric pickup to the above voice (predetermined semi-clean voice)

A rich acoustic rhythm sound meets Fender’s electric tone – when you really want to drive the band.

Position 1: Electric
A: Fender Electric Clean

You won’t believe your acoustic guitar can do this.

B: Fender Electric Fat/Semi-Clean

You really won’t believe your acoustic guitar can do this.

Who's It For?

There are a lot of guitarists who will enjoy playing this guitar, and probably some who will trollishly dismiss it altogether. And that's OK. It's not meant to replace your Tele or dreadnought, and of course, not everyone needs this versatile of a tool to play their the music. Some people need a lovingly selected individual pedal for every effect, and others love the do-it-all nature of their multi-effect unit.

But for guitarists who actually do a lot of recording or play in live situations that call for a utility belt of different sounds and styles, the Acoustasonic is definitely something to consider. A guitarist in a wedding band with singers that belt out a bunch of different genres will appreciate being able to nail "Blackbird" and the lead part from "Something" without having to switch instruments.

Someone who does a lot of commercial work, like Joe in the video up top, can use this guitar to dial in all the guitar tracks for a project without having to stand up from their studio desk. It could be a worship leader who wants to back up a choir and also provide some Sunday morning pedal swells, or simply a casual player who wants a cool guitar that's fun to play and represents the latest in modern design and luthiery technology.

The Acoustic-Electric Hybrid Legacy

The idea of combining an acoustic and an electric guitar into a single instrument goes back almost as far as the electric guitar itself. Acoustics with pickups—like Gibson archtops from the '40s or that Cobain-associated Martin D-18E—are one thing, but more deliberately hybridized designs represent their own distinct lineage. Notable examples include the Danelectro Convertible from the '60s or the more recent Taylor T series, and you can read a bit more about that history here.

The Acoustasonic is, as of now, the most advanced heir to this legacy. It's not an acoustic with fancy electronics, or an electric with a pseudo-acoustic body composition: It's something different and refreshing, and while guitarists on the internet are usually quick to dismiss ambitious new design concepts, the Acoustasonic's target is clearly more for players who will actually benefit from its many practical applications.

The first line of Acoustasonics, made in Fender's Corona, California factory, will be shipping shortly in five different finish options, with a list price of $1,999 USD. While no details have yet to be confirmed, it seems possible that Fender will leverage the research that went into this first model to offer lower-priced, made-in-Mexico versions at some point. Stay tuned for updates there.

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