Like about 99% of the population, I’m a failed wannabe rock star. Buying my first Yamaha acoustic guitar when I was 14, I took lessons, seldom practiced, but somehow expected to blossom into the next Randy Rhoads or Eddie Van Halen. The closest I got was sitting on the roof of our suburban house, with a pickup clumsily hanging off the guitar and plugged into a tiny speaker, and strumming feedback-tainted chords that drove my neighbors crazy.
Of course, I wanted to go electric, but there were just too many obstacles. The pickups never sounded good, basically giving your strums an echo effect and a little more noise. And the idea of buying another guitar, plus a speaker, just seemed like too much work for my teenage self, which was guided by inertia and random impulses. Over the years, I’ve tried out all kinds of more advanced pickups and hybrid guitars, but none of them were really able to create that acoustic alchemy of turning you from folk singer to heavy metalhead in a flash.
Now, Fender might just have met that challenge with its latest series of guitars, the American Acoustasonic, a hybrid Telecaster that switches seamlessly between acoustic and electric with the turn of a dial. Handcrafted at Fender’s flagship factory in Corona, California, the new instruments feature a fully hollow body, a mahogany neck, open-pore satin finish, and a patent-pending Stringed Instrument Resonance System, which “creates a naturally loud voice with lively harmonics,” per Fender’s description. Its Mod Knob allows the player to create an infinitely diverse set of sounds and the body can be tapped like a drum, creating a rhythm that resonates. The adaptable axe comes in natural, black, sonic gray, surf green, and sunburst colors.
For Fender CEO Andy Mooney, the task was “incredibly simple and a challenge–to design an electric guitar for the working musician,” just as company founder Leo Fender would have designed it. “We want to employ technology if it helps with the creation of music and make it customizable at a price that’s accessible.” After a three-year labor of love to design the Acoustasonic, Fender sent prototypes to a number of different musicians in all variety of genres from country music star Daniel Donato and Brazilian singer-songwriter Rodrigo Amarante to Danny Harrison, the son of late Beatle George Harrison. Encouraged by the positive feedback, Mooney can’t wait to introduce the new guitar, which goes on sale today.
The brand, which revolutionized music with the first mass-produced solid-body electric guitar 72 years ago, is also introducing some other new products later this week.