Will Fender’s Acoustic modeler meets Stratocaster be the next in a long line of amazing reviews?
Overview & Final Score: 9.4 out of 10
I have put off this review for a long time, mostly because I wanted to make sure I could truly convey why I love this guitar so much. Count me as one of the early skeptics of the Fender Acoustasonic series, who by now has been fully convinced of their musical potential and convenience. Unveiled just a year or so ago, the Fender Acoustasonic Stratocaster brings the voicing and comfort of a steel-string acoustic into the electric guitar world. It’s a full scale length Stratocaster, with a Mahogany neck and Ebony fretboard. 22 frets, a Graph Tech TUSQ nut, and satin urethane finish provide a smooth, stable playing experience. The body is also Mahogany, with a Sitka Spruce top, and a number of killer finish options (like this limited edition American Flag one).
Understanding the diverse electronics can seem intimidating, but the Acoustasonic Stratocaster aims to deliver massive versatility thanks to three built-in pickups. There’s the surface mounted magnetic pickup, an N4 Strat pickup for the electric tones, an under-saddle piezo pickup, and an internal body sensor acoustic pickup. Between these 3 options, you can pull out almost any sound you could want for a live or studio setting. There is a traditional 5-way selector switch, a volume knob, and a “mod” knob. The “mod” control knob controls additional voicing of the 5 selections, blending between an A & B phase. The options include
Position 1: Electric tones, both clean and dirty Fender Strat sounds.
Position 2: Acoustic & Electric blend between a clean Fender Strat and Dreadnought acoustic.
Position 3: Percussive and enhanced harmonic acoustic tones, blend between an auditorium-style acoustic and a boosted percussive acoustic.
Position 4: Alternative acoustics that can blend from a small body, short scale guitar to a Mahogany American dreadnought.
Position 5: Core acoustic tones that blend from a dreadnought to a concert acoustic.
It’s hard to find a fault in the sonic capabilities of this Stratocaster, it’s versatile but more importantly, it is fun. All of those options listed above from the pickup selector are high quality, responsive to touch, and very useable. It’s not like there’s only one or two modes on this guitar that are the “money” sound, and the rest are just kind of there. Fender packed the Acoustasonic Stratocaster with their take on popular and proven acoustic and electric sounds that make this is an optimal choice for the working guitarist. Let’s start with the electric tones, which are shockingly clear and genuine. In the 1st position, it’s a Strat bridge pickup through and through, percussive, rhythmic, a bit chimy, it’s all there. Roll on the dirt and you’ll have great time though don’t expect big distortion tones, just warm overdriven Strat tones that fill space. The blended acoustic/electric position 2 is one of my favorites, it’s almost like the blended piezo option on the PRS I played awhile back. You can roll all the way to an electric clean tone or all the way to the dreadnought tone plus everything in between.
The acoustic options exactly what you expect: classic acoustic-electric tones. I do think they miss a bit of the subtle, full bodied tones of a classic Gibson acoustic, so it isn’t a complete replacement for EVERY acoustic tone. Though it does almost everything else, and it does it quite well. It’s snappy, percussive, harmonic, all the words you love to use to describe acoustics. The 3 acoustic-only settings are perfect for replacing a collection you might take to a studio or to a gig.
I’m a Strat player through and through. My first and favorite guitar is a MIM Strat, so this guitar instantly feels comfortable and familiar. Fender has really made the first acoustic guitar that is genuinely meant for electric players. As much as I love acoustic, I’m just not at home on one, they always feel a bit clumsy to me. The Acoustasonic though is a full on American Strat that just doesn’t sound like one. The fretwork was superb, the neck is ultra smooth and has a gorgeous wood grain. When I get home from work, this is the first guitar I pick up to play. It’s nearly flawless in terms of tuning stability, playability, and overall quality. Even if you hate the idea of this guitar, you will love the feel of it in your hands, no doubt in my mind. Part of what makes it such an inspiring guitar to play is this high quality feel up and down the neck. I think part of what justifies the price of this Acoustasonic is that it will play so well and it will be incredibly inviting to you. One of the best features any guitar can have is comfort and that is not lacking in this stunning Stratocaster.
Finish & Construction: 10
I’m sure people will be watching how these hold up for years to come but so far, I see zero signs of poor construction or quality control. The finish is gorgeous, with a satin feel up the neck and a slightly glossy yet rugged layer over the American flag finish on mine. For me, the MVP of this guitar might just be the wood grain of the Mahogany. It’s stunning, with big open pores, deep color changes, all while still being lightweight to hold and play. The fretwork, playability, and tonal quality all speak for themselves, it’s just a well built instrument. Now, I can see a world where the acoustic engine in this guitar becomes outdated as the technology advances, but I don’t think that is a fair criticism of this very cutting edge guitar. At the end of the day, it is arguably the most user-friendly solution to acoustic-electric performance.
I understand that some people may write this off as a high priced gimmick, but really, $2000 isn’t a lot for what you’re getting. It’s a premium instrument in both looks and feel that can serve a wide variety of purposes. I’ve already written more songs and riffs on this guitar in 6 months than I did in the prior 2 years combined. Every single original piece of music you hear in one of my demos or videos was written on this, and I’m not sure you can put a price on creativity and self expression. I think it should still rank high on the value chart for how functionally diverse the Acoustasonic Stratocaster is, giving you a wide range of uses on stage. You could easily make this your main gigging guitar, assuming you don’t play too much overdriven or distorted music. I’d be curious to see them make something that is just as functional, but less pretty/spec’d out to keep the price down in the future. However, Fender’s made the most musical instrument I have ever owned, and that is the basis of the high ratings here. If something inspires you to play or write better, it is going to get high marks regardless of price, brand, or design.
Good for: Gigging Musicians, Solo Performers, Electric Guitar Players, Country, Pop, Improvisation, Loopers, Recording Artists