As more and more people sat down to noodle on guitars during the pandemic, it seems guitar makers have gotten bolder and bolder when it comes to new models and new technologies. Fender, for their, part, began the trip with the Jazzmaster Acoustisonic, a beautiful hollow-body electric that could mimic multiple sounds thanks to an ingenious system of pickups. The Jazzmaster, however, was sold as an electric guitar with some acoustic sounds. The new Fender Acoustasonic Player Telecaster is a hybrid acoustic/electric that can take you from Blackbird to Helter Skelter in one instrument.

The guitar consists of a lovely mahogany Telecaster neck with rosewood fingerboard and an almost organic hollow body with a central soundhole. It has a Fender Acoustasonic Noiseless pickup under the soundhole and a Fishman Under-Saddle Transducer to pick up the acoustic sounds. A three-way switch swaps between electric sounds – think of them as getting harder with every notch – and a blend knob lets you mix between two settings.

Unlike the Jazzmaster, the Telecaster has a real and usable acoustic sound which makes it quite honestly one of the best guitars I’ve played in recent memory.

How does the Fender Acoustisonic Player Telecaster sound?

I played a few simple riffs on this guitar using the various settings so you can give them a listen. Basically, you’re getting an acoustic sound with the added bonus of very clean, very usable electric sound. A lot of folks prefer to get their distortion and gain from their amplifiers but if you’re looking for something that can switch from a folky acoustic strum to a growly electric instantly, this is the one for you.

The guitar costs $1,199 new, about $1,000 less than the Jazzmaster we looked at a while back and I definitely liked this guitar better. It’s very light, the acoustic sound is very nice, and the whole package feels more compact and playable.

Obviously, this guitar isn’t for the purist. If you’re looking for a clean acoustic sound or a clean electric sound, you should probably just pick one or the other. I think Fender is aiming at a looping, solo player who uses far more gear than, say, a Blues dad looking to play a little Robert Johnson. This is a gadget, pure and simple, and you should treat it like one.

A lot of modern guitar innovations often are dead ends – I remember a Squier with built-in DSP that didn’t go very far. This doesn’t feel like a dead end but a branch of guitar manufacturing that aims to supply a more interesting and modeled sound right out of the box. Again, if you want six strings and a pickup, go for almost any other guitar in the world. If you want flexibility coupled with great acoustic sound, go for this cool Telecaster.

By John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

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