GADGETS

Fender’s latest Acoustasonic guitar is cheaper, but not cheap enough


When I tested earlier this year, I was admittedly skeptical. The price was one of the biggest reasons. I couldn’t justify $2000 for something like this. But I said that if the price drops below $1,000, I will consider it. Well, the new one doesn’t quite reach that standard, but at $1,200 it’s a lot lower.

Obviously something you should have given the company to cut the $800 off the price, but from a pure build quality perspective, you don’t seem to be losing much. Made in Mexico, the Acoustasonic trigger is almost indistinguishable from the. The body and neck have a similar satin finish over a blend of mahogany and fir wood. And the components, from the tuners to the knobs, are exactly the same. This definitely doesn’t sound like a guitar for a beginner.

Terence O’Brien / Engadget

However, there are some physical differences. Most notable is the fretboard, which was ebony on the original, but is made of rosewood here. However, I wouldn’t say ebony is better; It’s just a slightly different experience. The rosewood fretboard, combined with the low action out of the box, makes the Acoustasonic Telecaster more electric than acoustic—a stark contrast to the Jazzmaster version, in my experience.

The biggest differences here are in the electronics. Where the more pricier Acoustasonics has three pickups and a five-way switch for a total of 10 different guitar sounds, the Player model has just two pickups and a three-way switch with six acoustic options.

Player Acoustasonic also loses the rechargeable battery and replaces it with a standard 9V. I’ll say this: the guitar chews through 9V batteries surprisingly fast, but being able to swap in a new one (instead of waiting for it to charge) is a nice convenience.

Acoustasonic Telecaster Operator

Terence O’Brien / Engadget

Just like the other entries in the Acoustasonic series, the key controls are basic, but slightly different than your usual guitar. There is a volume knob, but the limiter is not Just toggle pickups (although it does that too); It toggles between pairs of “sounds,” while the second knob blends the two.

Moving from back to front, the volume pairs on the 3-way switch here are Noiseless Tele, Fat Noiseless Tele, Lo-Fi Clean, Lo-Fi Crunch, Mahogany Small Body Short Scale, and Rosewood Dreadnought. What can be immediately noticed is that the number of onomatopoeia is much lower than the other onomatopoeia. The two models here, Rosewood Dreadnought and Mahogany Small Body, cover a decent amount of ground. It is very satisfying to play a simple chord loop on Rosewood and to turn the mixing knob forward to Mahogany to play a lead over it.

The two vocals here are good but not as convincing as on the Jazzmaster Acoustasonic. I attribute that to the missing third capture: Fishman’s Acoustasonic Enhancer. The two trucks captured here—Fender’s Acoustasonic Noiseless and Fishman’s Under-Saddle Transducer—do a great job of delivering electric and piezo acoustic sounds, but they’re not as good at delivering the versatility and nuances of the Enhanced System as it sounds.

Acoustasonic Telecaster Operator

Terence O’Brien / Engadget

However, I actually prefer the Telecaster’s electric vocals over the Jazzmaster. It sounds more like the guitar it inspired to my ears, and plays better with the pedals. The “Fat” Tele sound has just the right amount of sting to suit my taste. The “lo-fi” sounds are basically the same as the piezo sounds you’d find in a mid-audio/electric. To be clear, this is not a bad thing. I like the pickup crunch a little extra pesos. If you hit the covers of Neutral Milk Hotel or play along with Nirvana’s not connectedThis is the right place for you.

The tanned and petite body sounds are still more convincing than you’ll get in the average vocal/electric. They have a depth and character that the average piezo alone cannot match. But those two votes alone aren’t necessarily worth the premium you’re paying here.

In fact, price remains the biggest obstacle to the Acoustasonic line. $1,200 isn’t exactly cheap for a guitar. Sure, it’s better than $2000, but even many avid players will live their whole lives and never spend more than $1,000 on a guitar. A standard Mexico-made Telecaster will cost you $800, and you can get a decent audio/electric from Fender for $400—and those two separate devices are arguably more versatile than the Acoustasonic hybrid. And the value becomes even more complicated when you consider that the American Acoustasonic Telecaster is currently on sale for $1,600.

The Acoustasonic Player Telecaster remains an almost perfect guitar and it’s exciting to see Fender bring hybrid guitar technology into a more affordable instrument. But it is still expensive for most people.

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