Gearing Up: Fender Acoustasonic Stratocaster

From a songwriter’s perspective, the perfect desert island guitar for me is one that could tonally go from 0-60 with the flick of a switch, without feeling foreign and sterile. Something that has mojo and vibe and sparks inspiration, yet not skimping out on the technical plusses of advanced onboard electronics. I guess, in simpler terms, it’s the perfect bridge between an acoustic and an electric guitar. Well folks, the Fender Acoustasonic Stratocaster has arrived and I couldn’t be happier!

The Acoustasonic Stratocaster follows Fender’s release of the Acoustasonic Telecaster last year, which was well-received by the guitar world. Naturally, putting the technology into their flagship Stratocaster design was the next logical step. Electric players will feel at home with the familiar Strat body shape and neck, while acoustic players will see it as a new tool in their arsenal, or the only guitar they need. With a plethora of both acoustic and electric tonal options, this guitar will inspire new progressions and licks as soon as you take it out of the case.

Right out of the heavy-duty gig bag, this thing ripped. The naturally finished modern C shape neck is comfortable and responsive, and led to a lot of shredding. It’s very seldom that you get an acoustic where you can reach all the way to the 22nd fret. Without even being plugged in, I was shocked by how much the guitar resonated and how naturally loud it was. For gigging musicians who play in a duo/trio and switch from rhythm accompaniment to playing solo licks, the versatility of this guitar is hard to beat.

The body depth is only a hair bigger than my collection of electric Strats. However, this is built with a hollow mahogany body and a braced Sitka spruce top to further bring out the acoustic side of things. I initially played this axe for a couple of hours, and I quickly got to loving the snappy percussiveness when I was playing more funky rhythms, and also the overtones and resonance for open and extended chords. The projection and great harmonics are due to their new patented Stringed Instrument Resonant System (SIRS). Its waterfall design controls the air flowing into the body of the guitar which makes it sound and feel bigger than it is.  From flatpicking to fingerpicking to electric-style rock and blues soloing, I felt at home. The wound G string didn’t trip me up as an electric player, and its electric-guitar-like string spacing didn’t trip me up as a fingerpicker. 

Plugged in, this guitar is a monster. I flattened out the EQ on my PA and cranked it up, giving the Acoustasonic a fair spin. It features 3 different pickup systems: a Piezo electric element underneath the bridge saddle, a body-sensing pickup which captures all the percussiveness, snappiness and thump, and a noiseless pickup in the bridge for the electric sounds.  It has the familiar 5-way selector switch and a volume knob and a “mod” knob where your tone control would be. Positions 2-5 feature distinct acoustic guitar tones, and position 1 features the Noiseless electric pickup. Digging deeper, each of the positions has two unique personalities found by using the mod-knob, adding great tonal flexibility. Though all these options might seem a bit daunting, each of these controls essentially work as their own instrument, and only having played the guitar for a day I was able to navigate where all of my favorite sounds were and tailor them until I got what my heart and ears desired. 

Positions 5 and 4 is the setting most singer/songwriters will probably use, with modeled acoustic guitar sounds that excel for stage and the studio. All the way up in position 5 (your usual neck pickup position) delivers the beautiful, natural sounding “core acoustic” models. With the mod knob all the way down, you get a mahogany dreadnought with a Sitka spruce top (you can picture exactly what guitar that’s modeling), which is quite dynamic and full. The bass response makes you believe this is a full-sized dread, and it’s a great set-it and forget-it tone for solo acoustic gigs. 

Position 4 gives you the “alternative acoustics'' models which screams “Americana” all day long. Position 3, the “Percussion and enhanced harmonics” setting, has become my go-to setting when I want to add percussive thump sounds, which I often do on stage. It gives the guitar a full-bodied sound, with a pristine high-end characteristic that makes it pop onstage. Position 2 gives you an “acoustic-electric blend.” I normally double my electric with my acoustic in the studio a la Tom Petty, and this gives you that sound and feel in a live environment. Position 1 is a real gem. It gives you two electric models, one that’s semi-clean and one that has a little bit of dirt on it. Even when running through the PA, it sounds like a Fender electric run through a Fender amp.

Over the past couple weeks, this has become my number one studio and writing guitar. I can leave this plugged in through the whole session and not have to do a million-and-one guitar switches, which although seems like fun, breaks my workflow. The electronics are active, obviously, and charged through an included USB cord. Unless you leave your electric guitar plugged in overnight, the battery lasts many days, but I’d definitely recommend charging it on off hours. From a stage-warrior to a studio best friend, the Fender Acoustasonic Strat will surely become a favorite of yours too. 

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