Fender Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster assessment: A singular guitar with a number of tones

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Whereas guitar producers have been combining digital elements with acoustic devices for the reason that Thirties, standard electrical and acoustic guitars stay largely separate devices with their very own distinctive sounds, strengths, and limitations. Positive, an electrical pickup may be positioned into an acoustic guitar however it nonetheless received’t sound like a solid-body electrical guitar—or vice versa. That every one modified for Fender Musical Devices in 2010 when the corporate—which has been producing guitars since 1946—launched its line of Acoustasonic hybrid guitars, successfully blurring the road between acoustic and electrical and providing a completely distinctive option to produce each sounds with a single instrument. I lately had an opportunity to check the most recent Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster and, as somebody who’s by no means performed a real hybrid guitar, I discovered the expertise to be as enjoyable, inspiring, and shocking. Let’s check out whether or not the Fender Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster’s vary of sounds matches a variety of gamers.


The Fender Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster design

Following within the footsteps of the unique and costlier Acoustasonic line, the all-new Fender Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster hails from Fender’s brand-new Ensenada, Mexico, manufacturing unit and goals to deliver the guitar’s versatility to a wider participant base through a streamlined design that prices roughly 40% lower than that of its predecessors. Visually, the guitar options the identical off-the-wall mixture of natural delicacy and retrofuturist shapes for which the Acoustasonic line is understood, whereas its electronics have been pared all the way down to the naked necessities to make for a extra easy enjoying expertise. 

At its basis, the Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster is constructed similar to an ordinary acoustic guitar: it has a mahogany physique and neck with a braced spruce prime, it’s hole, and it includes a conventional acoustic-style bridge. This mix of design options permits the guitar to venture and resonate with the same stage of definition and readability to a conventional acoustic guitar, even when it’s not plugged in, regardless of having a a lot smaller physique. The guitar additionally includes a naturally oily and easy-to-play rosewood fretboard, which is a inexpensive various to the denser ebony wooden discovered within the fretboard of the unique American-made Acoustasonic.

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To offer the digital ingredient of its hybrid design, the Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster—which may partially hint its inspiration again to the primary mass-produced solid-body guitars, launched in 1950—makes use of a pair of pickups designed in collaboration between Fender and Fishman. The primary is a glossy, noiseless Telecaster-style pickup that sits between the guitar’s sound gap and bridge, whereas the opposite is a mini piezo-style pickup that lives beneath the saddle. These pickups work in live performance with the guitar’s three-way blade swap to supply six hand-picked amplified sounds and an infinite variety of combos thereof through a mix knob. The three-way swap system is an adaptation of the five-way system discovered on the American Acoustasonic guitars, which characteristic 10 sounds to work with. Your entire electronics system is powered by a single 9V battery and may run for roughly 22 hours repeatedly earlier than needing to get replaced.

Headstock of the Fender Acoustasonic guitar
Julian Vittorio

Getting began with the Fender Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster

The Fender Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster is available in a Fender F1225 gig bag and is strung up and able to play out of the field. The very first thing I seen was simply how mild the Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster felt in my arms—it weighs simply shy of 5 kilos—and, upon sitting down with it, I felt a little bit of a downward pull on the left facet of the guitar as a result of weight differential between the physique and the neck. It’s not significantly unusual to expertise “neck dive” with guitars, however I feel that, on this case, the impact was pronounced as a result of guitar’s small hole physique and its stable wooden neck.

The Fender Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster’s sound

To discover the vary of Fender Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster’s tonal capabilities, I used a mix of heavy chord strumming with a decide, picked single-note strains, and fingerpicking. The check consisted of unamplified enjoying with and and not using a microphone, in addition to via a Fender ‘68 Customized Deluxe Reverb amplifier. For the microphone exams, I used a Barbaric Amplification BA49C condenser on the guitar’s physique mixed with a Royer 121 ribbon mic on the neck and recorded straight into Apple Logic Professional X through a Common Audio Apollo x8 interface.

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When performed as a purely unamplified acoustic instrument, I discovered the Fender Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster to be modest in its quantity output and never significantly well-rounded from a harmonic standpoint. The guitar’s very responsive spruce prime allowed the instrument to venture loads of rhythmic punch and string assault, however its shallow physique and small sound gap lacked the power to push low and low-mid frequencies in any significant means. To be very clear, I’m referring to the guitar’s means to carry its personal in opposition to different conventional acoustic guitars both unplugged or in entrance of a microphone; I discovered its efficiency, on this case, to be mildly disappointing, however this was finished for check functions and has little to do with the precise hybrid digital efficiency of the instrument.

After testing the guitar’s unpowered sound, I switched on my amp and started my cycle via the six preset sounds with the three-way blade in place one. On this place, the guitar’s amplified sound emulates that of a conventional spruce and mahogany acoustic guitar just like the Martin D-18, with the mix knob offering a gradient between the sound of a giant dreadnought guitar and a small-body parlor acoustic. In comparison with the reasonably toothless sound of the instrument when unplugged, this mode supplied a harmonically wealthy and full acoustic guitar sound with dead-on emulations of every physique sort. In dreadnought mode, the Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster was completely booming and filled with maintain, whereas the small-body mode gave a snappier, nearly brassy high quality to the guitar’s amplified sound.

In swap place two, the Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster enters lo-fi mode, which provides gamers entry to the pure, unaffected sound of the under-saddle piezo pickup. To me, this mode sounded so direct, delicate, and detailed that I felt the time period “lo-fi” bought it a bit brief. The remoted sound of the piezo pickup ends in an nearly scientific guitar tone that brings quite a lot of incidental finger and string noise to the forefront, which I can see having quite a lot of attention-grabbing inventive purposes, significantly when used with results. On this mode, the mix knob affords entry to a DSP-enabled crunch overdrive, which customers can add to style or flip up all the way in which. I actually preferred the standard of this overdrive, which obscured and compressed the sign in a really easy and musical means harking back to tape saturation.

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The ultimate and rightmost swap place engages the noiseless bridge pickup to allow the guitar’s conventional Telecaster sound, with the mix knob as a toggle between clear and overdriven tones. I used to be initially confused by this mode, having anticipated it to roughly reproduce the sound of a solid-body Telecaster. As I continued to play, I spotted that what the guitar truly does is a little more particular than that: the pickup delivers the entire twang, spank, and responsiveness of a basic Telecaster—suppose “Begin Me Up” by the Rolling Stones—whereas the hole physique and acoustic {hardware} present a delicate heat and resonance that’s usually absent from its solid-body counterpart. This ends in the Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster delivering a really distinctive and versatile guitar tone whereas channeling the identical perspective, spirit, and playability of its namesake.

The back of a Fender Acoustasonic guitar made in Mexico
Julian Vittorio

So, who can purchase the Fender Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster?

The Fender Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster isn’t a conventional acoustic or electrical guitar, however that’s precisely why it is likely to be fascinating to some gamers. It has meticulously designed sounds which might be simple to govern and provide a inventive immediacy which may be interesting to songwriters and improvisers. Working musicians trying to streamline their workflow and get rid of the trouble of touring with two devices may also respect the guitar’s means to ship genuine acoustic and electrical guitar tones with a responsive, fun-to-play really feel. Whereas the Acoustasonic Participant Telecaster doesn’t actually maintain up as an unplugged guitar and a few could also be delay by its eye-catching look, it’s undoubtedly an extremely distinctive and well-built musical device versatile sufficient to be your go-to studio or stage axe.