When it launched at NAMM in 2019, Fender’s Acoustasonic Telecaster was a real talking point for looks and sounds. But after we played one, we had something else to say: when were we going to see a more affordable Mexican-made version?
Of course, Fender plans this kind of thing way in advance, because here it is. So what’s changed and what are the compromises here compared with the pricier California version?
First, a quick rewind, because there’s now a US Acoustasonic Strat and Jazzmaster, too – Fender is committed to this concept and we can understand why. You can view these guitars as electrics for acoustic players or vice-versa; our experiences so far veer on the side of an electro-acoustic with magnetic flexibility. But the Acoustasonic Jazzmaster’s Shawbucker pickup blurred the line the most.
All share the same core design: a ‘tuned’ soundhole that is integral to the acoustic and plugged-in response, a traditional bolt-on electric neck with Fender’s Modern Deep C-shape neck profile strung with bronze acoustic strings, and the crucial ‘Acoustic Engine’ alongside a magnetic pickup.
For the Strats and Teles, this is a noiseless N4 for the electric tones. The digital and analogue ‘Acoustic Engine’ is a collaboration between Fender and Fishman: active preamp circuitry (the board has over 380 components on it) with pickup/s. Here, it’s an under-saddle piezo.
For the US Tele, there’s also the addition of a Fishman Acoustasonic Enhancer under the guitar’s top. That model had five modes and a five-way selector with a Blend Knob for blending. Here, there are three with six voices in total vs the USA model’s 10. Less is more or less is... less? We’ll get to that.
This is the first black finish Sitka spruce top Acoustasonic we’ve reviewed, and it’s our favourite yet. While the idea of a Tele with a soundhole (or Stringed Instrument Resonance System as Fender calls it) will always turn heads, the finish here gives it a cool, even understated look that looks just right on the Tele curves, complemented by the darker grain highlights in the mahogany on our guitar.
In terms of feel and build, we honestly can’t find a compromise between this Ensenada-made Player and the US Acoustasonics we’ve tried. A lovely dark rosewood fingerboard and bridge replaces the US version’s ebony, but that’s not an issue for us. The feel of the bevelled arm rest and fingerboard edges says quality and comfort; this is an inviting guitar and that Modern Deep-C neck will feel familiar to anyone who has played the electric Player series models.
As you can imagine from a hollow Tele, it’s neck-heavy. It’s also a very persuasive guitar without even being plugged in. Despite the 44.5mm body thickness, the SIRS system does a superb job at conveying a lively, boxy tone that you’ll be happy to play around the house.
It’ll be a revelation for some players because even with the increased tension of the .011-.052-gauge Fender Dua-Tone coated phosphor bronze strings, this has a fast electric guitar neck with the fret access that comes with it.
Each position has A and B voicings you can mix with the Blend Knob. 3A and 3B are a small body mahogany short scale and a boomier rosewood dreadnought. We’d absolutely concur with those descriptions, and it covers the main types of tone most acoustic players will want.
From there, the lines begin to blur and dirt is added to the under-saddle pickup for 2A and 2B’s Lo-Fi Clean and Lo-Fi Crunch voices. They’re more eclectic and acoustic, respectively, and actually sound like a mix of the two pickup sources, even though they’re technically not.
We found a blend of the two receptive to light Klon-style drive that is useful in a band mix. Voices 1A and 1B are all on the Tim Shaw-designed Noiseless single-coil pickup – a clean and a dirtier ‘Fat’ tone. This is a warmer, earthier single-coil tone than you might expect, but we really like it and actually spent a lot of time blending for blues and Americana – it also never feels abrupt to switch from the other voices to these sounds.
Our action is low but the resonance is still sweet. It’s also great to see that Fender has included the excellent Micro-Tilt neck angle adjustment feature, which will help even the fussiest of us to get the perfect action coupled. For all this, it’s an acoustic guitar that will bring new approaches from your playing you even plug in. So what happens when you do?
We’re going to come straight out with it: we think the biggest compromise here will be anyone who plays percussive acoustic styles. The Fishman under-saddle piezo with its active circuitry yields fantastic warm and organic acoustic tones with no brittle piezo ‘quack’ in evidence, but players who rely on body percussion won’t find the same level of sensitivity as the US body’s top-positioned transducer.
The 10 voices could feel generous but somewhat overwhelming for a Tele before – some would argue that’s more than most players could ever need. The more streamlined approach here still affords six: the traditional ‘neck’ position’s dreadnought and smaller acoustics to the bridge’s full magnetic.
You won’t get twangsome Tele in the latter; it’s more a full-bodied electric tone that blends well. The real dilemma is whether you choose to amplify through a PA/acoustic combo or a traditional guitar amp. We’d argue the former gets the best from the acoustic detail, but our piezo acoustic tone was impressively authentic with both.
- PRICE: $1,199 / £1,049
- BODY: Mahogany with solid Sitka spruce top
- NECK: Mahogany, Deep C-shape
- SCALE: 25.5”
- FINGERBOARD: Rosewood
- FRETS: 22, Narrow Tall
- PICKUPS: Under-saddle piezo, Fender N4 Noiseless single-coil magnetic
- CONTROLS: Master Volume, Blend Knob, 3-Way Switch
- HARDWARE: Graph Tech TUSQ, Fender Standard Cast/Sealed Staggered tuners
- CONTACT: Fender
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