Evidently Fender has been hard at work since introducing the Stratacoustic and Telecoustic models from a few years ago, as the new Acoustasonic Stratocaster represents a quantum leap in playability and sound past those excellent (but admittedly budget oriented) instruments.
The Acoustasonic is one of those products that you can tell has been in development for a while, as there is thoughtfulness to the design that you don’t see everyday. A great example of this are the volume and tone controls which are recessed into the rosewood bridge in a way that makes them both accessible and out of harms way at the same time.
Although the Mexican-made Acoustasonic is a very “techie” instrument with slick features such as a hollow alder body married to a graphite composite top, triple Fishman piezo pickups built into a three piece compensated bridge, and a graphite back cover plate shielding the 18V active electronics, the guitar doesn’t feel like a test project or a piece of plastic, it just feels like a guitar.
The finish of the Acoustasonic that I received seemed to change color depending upon the viewing angle and available light, and is easily one of the best looking paint jobs I have ever seen on an affordable instrument. I had to look closely at the top for quite a while before I could see any evidence at all of a joint between the graphite composite top, and the alder wood body.
While I was using the Acoustasonic in the studio, I knocked the body of the guitar into the cast iron counterweight of the boom on a large rolling mic stand. I expected to see a huge dent right on the face of the guitar. Nothing, not a scratch! I wish all guitars had such a tough finish.
Although the Acoustasonic has just one volume and one tone control, I feel that more complex tone shaping circuitry isn’t really necessary since the basic sound is right on the money. I didn’t miss the inclusion of a notching filter either, as I was unable to get the Acoustasonic to feed back unless I put it right in front of my Dual Rectifier at very high levels.
Three internally mounted trimpots allow the user to balance the volume each pickup element to their liking. The review guitar benefited from a slight boost to the trimpot that controlled the B and E strings pickup. This kind of adjustability will make it much easier to dial in a sound that correctly fits your playing style and string choice.
The pickups and the associated electronics (which are manufactured by Fishman) have very low noise, and have a very nice “hi-fi” type tonality that works well driving a variety of gear.
I had great results with the Acoustasonic going direct into my Neotek IIIc console via a Radial JDI direct box. The sound was very clean and detailed, and the individual notes in chords were easily discernable.
Plugged into a Silverface Fender Vibrolux Reverb, the Acoustasonic had great punch and depth. With the volume of the guitar set full up, I was able to coax a really nice light overdrive from the amp (which doesn’t have a master volume control that enables “preamp only” distortion) which would work perfectly in a classic rock, or roots music context.
Though I wouldn’t recommend it as the perfect match, the Acoustasonic sounded pretty cool plugged into my Dual Rectifier. I was able to coax some pretty wild “Beck-esq” type acoustic distortion tones that wouldn’t be possible without massive (unwanted) feedback with any other acoustic electric I have used.
While you won’t mistake the Acoustasonic for a high quality dreadnaught when played acoustically, it has plenty of volume for casual playing and can fill the room with surprisingly decent tone. You might miss a bit of low bass, and a little high sparkle, but the overall sound is better than you would expect from such a thin body.
The Acoustasonic is a great guitar for unplugged practice duty; those acoustic strings will help you build your hand strength relative to a conventional electric while still retaining the familiar “C” shaped Strat neck, correct scale length and string spacing.
All in all, the Acoustasonic is a great twist on the Stratocaster and a very usable, excellent sounding guitar in its own right!
The bottom line:
Great sound and appearance makes the Acoustasonic a terrific choice!