1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster: Opinions, praise, criticism and warning.

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by spkguitar, Dec 2, 2019.

  1. spkguitar

    spkguitar TDPRI Member

    Age:
    53
    Posts:
    3
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2017
    Location:
    McDonald, PA (Pittsburgh)
    TL;DR - The Acoustasonic has some design problems that you should consider before purchase.


    So... I bought the Acoustasonic Tele back in April of 2019 for my work in an acoustic cover trio. Everything from Eagles to Imagine Dragons, Elvis to Portugal the Man, etc. For this purpose, the Acoustasonic is pretty stellar feature wise.

    Would I ever choose it for pure acoustic tone? Nope.
    Would I ever choose it over of a real telecaster for full-on electric guitar work? Nope.

    But for switching tones song to song and even mid-song in an acoustic cover situation for drunk people in bars who don't really care that you're faking them out, it works wonders.

    I'd like to give my honest opinions and experiences about the instrument in case anyone is looking to purchase or is just curious.

    First, the instrument comes without a string retainer, which I found to be flawed. The very first weekend of use, I kept popping the high E string out of the nut (I play pretty aggressively). Less than $5 worth of parts later, that problem was solved, but I really shouldn't have had to drill into my brand new expensive instrument to solve this problem; it should have come with them.

    Next, I'm not a big fan of the charging/battery system. The Micro USB connecter is flimsy at best, and I strongly feel that there could be a better way to charge than this tiny connector. Something like the Line 6 TRS connection or something like that. With that said, playing 2-4 shows in a row just didn't sit well with me in the "trust the battery" department, so I created my own "snake" cable with 1/4" and USB charge cable, so I never have to worry about the battery dying; it's always plugged in and charging.

    Moving on, there is no pickguard. This makes the guitar attractive in looks, but isn't very practical when torturing it night after night. I started chewing through the top right away, so much so that I ordered clear, thin stick-on pickguard material from stew-mac and cut it to fit, but honestly, the damage was already done. I will eventually have a "trigger" on my hands, if you know what I mean.
    Screenshot 2019-12-02 11.22.07.jpg

    After 8 months, the frets are really starting to wear. I do play alot (80 3-4 hour shows on this instrument), so this isn't as surprising as I guess I thought, but still...
    Screenshot 2019-12-02 11.25.25.jpg


    And now we get to the warning part of my review; string retention and the electronics. The Acoustasonic uses a standard acoustic bridge pin retention for the strings. On a standard acoustic, if you break a string and the ball end falls into the guitar, you can normally shake out the ball end through the sound hole. With the Acoustasonic's design with the figured mahogany block at the sound hole, this is not really possible (or at the very least EXTREMELY difficult). I found the only real way to get the ball ends out when they fell in was to unscrew the back plate to shake them out. Impractical at best when gigging frequently. And now we get to the real problem; the delicate electronics on the inside are not at all protected. They are wide open.
    2019-11-27 14.46.23.jpg
    So there is the potential for the loose ball ends to come in contact with the delicate circuitry and cause shorts. Ask me how I know? It happened. The guitar just stopped working during one gig and I had to switch to my backup for the rest of the show. When I got home and opened up the back for inspection, I found that two of the ball ends that I had been meaning to take out during the next stringing/cleaning session had gotten lodged in between the charging circuit board and the output jack, causing a short and frying the charging circuitry. The charge/output section is modular, so I figured a replacement would be fairly easy.

    2019-10-22 10.16.21.jpg 2019-10-22 10.16.25-1.jpg

    I contacted Fender, and they were very kind and concerned, but couldn't send me the replacement directly; it had to go through a certified Fender repair shop. So I called my local one, who told me to bring the guitar in and they would coordinate with Fender on the fix. Unfortunately, the "fix" took 4 weeks, and turned out to be EXACTLY what I had supposed; Fender sent them a new charge/output section which they installed. Now, as a "kudos to Fender", there was no charge for this repair. 4 weeks is a really long time, though.

    When I got the guitar home, I immediately removed the new charge/output assembly, covered it with heat shrink tubing and reinstalled it. (once again, less than $5 worth of parts to avoid disaster) This will hopefully eliminate this from happening again with the charge/output section, but the main Fishman circuitry is still fully exposed inside, so there is still the potential for damage, so I'm seriously considering some Power Pins so the ball ends never have the potential to cause a problem. To me, it seems like such an expensive instrument shouldn't have issues such as these.
    2019-11-27 14.49.01.jpg 2019-11-27 14.52.49.jpg 2019-11-27 14.55.41.jpg



    Overall, I'm pretty happy with this guitar, and especially with Fender for stepping up with the free fix. I really do think it is WAY too expensive for what it is (basically a Telecoustic with Fishman Aura jammed inside), but it has become my daily driver. I honestly wouldn't mind having another as a backup, but not at that price! (or even the price of used ones)

    Hopefully, this may help others who have purchased or wish to purchase.
     
    indiobravo, Joe K, Brucedean and 6 others like this.
  2. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    14,941
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2003
    Location:
    northwest
    They are kind of interesting looking. But no way at their price point. I have had similar thin hollow guitars and they are never "acoustic guitars". As you say, they don't do either world that well. That's ok at minimal price. I'd take a vintage Guild Songbird, or S5CE etc any day over the Acoustasonic concept.
     
  3. Dan German

    Dan German Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    11,466
    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2008
    Location:
    Left of the Left Coast
    My Danelectro Convertible has that base covered. :p
     
  4. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    69
    Posts:
    14,452
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2017
    Location:
    Foat Wuth, Texas
    Thanks for the info and heads up.....I hope maybe Fender is getting feedback from you and other owners, and taking steps to abate.
    That said, it sounds (by your own admission) that you are VERY hard on your instruments.....both in HOW you play and how often you play. Those habits naturally cause wear and tear. There are certain little "fixes", like the string tree, that I would think are "personal mods" that I would do on any guitar. I'm an inveterate modder anyway, so I don't expect to buy a guitar off the rack that didn't need something.
    Again, thanks for posting, and truly hope Fender is listening......;)
     
  5. tele_pathic

    tele_pathic Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    49
    Posts:
    2,969
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2009
    Location:
    St. George, UT
    Initially, I was intrigued by these guitars. Until I actually played a couple. The first was kinda "meh" and at $2000, uninspired. Also, I was a bit surprised at the less-than-stellar-especially-for-two-grand workmanship. The second one I played into an acoustic amp: It fedback something tremendous and horrible. tried a different amp but same result, so no thanks, esp given the price
     
  6. Stu Cazz

    Stu Cazz TDPRI Member

    Age:
    38
    Posts:
    96
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2018
    Location:
    Spain
    I got a big gas attack when I saw them the first time. But sometimes it is good thing to have empty pockets. I still like the looks and would love to own one but it really is way to expensive.
    Also I figured out that I already own a fantastic Tele and a Mooer Acousticar pedal, wich give me pretty much everything I need to swich quickly between sounds.

    Big thanks to the op for all the info, and nice to see that despite of the problems you're still enjoying yours.
     
  7. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,957
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2013
    Location:
    Texas
    Great review and objective, real-world observation.
    Thank you for this!
     
  8. Donnie L

    Donnie L TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    57
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2011
    Location:
    Louisville, Ky.
    Great Post ... I do know Fender is having a tough time with production of this guitar. My Sweetwater rep called me almost 4 months later saying they got a few ... I passed on it ... Price needs to come down and "adjustments" need to be made as this thread adequately shows...
     
  9. hotraman

    hotraman Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    64
    Posts:
    1,212
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Location:
    Camas, WA
    Wow!! Great review and insights.
    Thanks for the pictures and details.
    I went through the hybrid guitar hole with a Taylor T5 Koa that I bought new.
    Same observations regarding the tone. I believe the same guy who was a part of the T5 design team, works at Fender and designed this.
    At the price, I wouldn't go for it.
    Not to mention your hassle with the electronics, makes me weary of buying this guitar.
    I'll stay with what I have been using: my Gibson J45 and a Telecaster.
     
    true geezer likes this.
  10. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,690
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2017
    Location:
    Earth
    Great post.. what is so weird about this guitar to me is I have this feeling you could stick those electronics in a $200 solid body Squier and it'd sound almost the same.

    From what I can tell it's all Fishman magic. And it sure is expensive.

    The Taylor T5s are pretty much the same thing.. Fishman magic IIRC. It sounds like they have some issues too, but I'd be the workmanship is quite good on those. Still it sounds like they have electronic issues occasionally.
     
  11. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,690
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2017
    Location:
    Earth
    I think it's more that they're both Fishman collaborations. The T5 being an older version of it. They are both basically computers/modelers inside the guitar. My guess is it has a lot in common with the Fishman Aura preamp/pedal setup.

    It makes me curious to try a regular Tele through an Aura pre-amp. AFAICT if you had a pedal board the Aura would be compelling vs a T5 or an Acoustasonic.
     
    Brucedean likes this.
  12. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,072
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Location:
    USA
    Yeah, I was going to say: Lower end Takamine a/e ($250 used) --> Fishman Aura floor pedal (120 used)--> there you go.
     
  13. Brucedean

    Brucedean TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    3
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2014
    Location:
    Milwaukee
    Great write up!
    Thank you spkguitar!

    I bought one the other day, and I am surprised to hear a faint 60hz hum from the “noiseless” tele pickup. When turning the guitar volume down, the hum goes away. Only on mag settings, not on acoustic settings. Have you had such an experience? If this is normal, I can deal with it, after all, my other teles hum.

    My expectations however from a noiseless pickup was no noise. For example,

    I have a std tele with Fishman Fluence, pickup is dead silent.

    So how noiseless is your acoustasonic tele?
     
  14. Mike M

    Mike M Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    727
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2019
    Location:
    07040
    I had one for 6 months, and returned it for full refund because the truss rod was broken.

    I wanted to love the guitar so much, and playing it was fun (especially late night unplugged, just sitting on the couch, sue me), but in the end it didn't do acoustic or electric really great. Jack of all trades, master of none kind of thing.

    Also I never complain about price, especially for a product I fall in love with, but this really should be in the 1k range.
     
  15. Willy-son

    Willy-son Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    102
    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2011
    Location:
    NJ USA
    A guy in my band has one. I can’t really say much about how they play because I’ve never had an interest in playing it. I’m not sure what Fender was going for, but I can say I hate it when he plays that thing. It’s not good as an acoustic or an electric. It sounds awful on doing either. JMHO for what it’s worth.
     
  16. indiobravo

    indiobravo Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Age:
    55
    Posts:
    1,551
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2009
    Location:
    Raleigh NC
    excellent write up - thank you for that spk.

    i have been intrigued by this guitar since i first saw it. i have also been perpetually frustrated by the fact that i could never get my hands on one to try it out - no big boxes in my area ever had one in stock - and that price tag is simply too high for a buy/no try guitar. I did finally find a used one for 1400 which i bought (still too much, but i had come across a surprise bit of cash). The mag pickup was broken so i set to getting it replaced. Called fender - they said, "Oh that's all Fishman - you have to call them. The wood is ours and the electronics are theirs". This is in fact not true.
    Then i called Fishman and they said, "Let us know what the part number is and maybe we can help." ???? I told them it's the Fender Acoustasonic - there's only ONE kind. Didn't matter. So i was on my own. I slowly started to figure it out. Firstly, the pick up is the fender N4 noiseless they put in strats nowadays (little secret - all three pups are the same model pup). That sucks because you can't buy a single one of them, just the 3 set at ~$200.
    The second issue is how it's mounted. There are basically two "nuts" attached on the underside of the guitar face. The bolts (not screws) go in from the inside towards the outside. the nuts are tall and so is the N4. This means that if you replace it with anything that isn't as tall as the N4 that it won't even protrude from the pickup cavity - it will be flush or under it - very far from the strings. I bought a Seymour Duncan STK S7 - one of the tallest pickups i could find - and it still wasn't enough to get close enough to the strings. I had to drill out the screw insert in the pickup to allow it to clear the "nut" on the guitar. it was scary but all worked out well and i now have a 2k guitar for 1460.

    Thanks to covid I'm not doing shows so i can't report on it's gigability. The one thing that scares me is the battery. I like spk's snake cable idea. I am also looking into replacing the stock battery with a higher capacity battery.

    I will say that i love the way it feels in my hands and the fact that it is feather light - I've never played a lighter guitar. I also love the way it sounds unplugged.

    I am dying to be able to take her out on the road.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2021
  17. Mike M

    Mike M Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    727
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2019
    Location:
    07040
    I did love the weight of it as well, like holding a feather. My favorite thing to do when I had it was to play it late at night on couch, unplugged. Sacrilege!
     
    indiobravo likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.