The latest in Fender’s Acoustasonic series takes a curvy, gnarly classic and gives it an o-hole and a hollow body for resonance and a fat pickup for some grit.
I’m a Fender fan, no two ways about it. There are only two electric guitars that I use; a Telecaster for when I’m feeling loosie goosie, and for every mood, any day of the week, I use my beloved Fender Jazzmaster. The curves of a Jazzmaster are more beautiful than any human body to me – try though you might to tempt me, Hollywood. So imagine my conflicted feelings when I saw this latest release from Fender.
The release video above showing the guitar being wrung like a soppy rag that’s just been on car cleaning duty probably doesn’t help the ghastly image. There is something strangely enticing about the guitar but every time I spend too long looking at it, my eyes begin to sizzle like acid is being dripped on them.
Fender promise their “most versatile guitar yet” in the Acoustasonic Jazzmaster which can switch from clean, country tones to the beefy grit that the original guitar is famous for.
You know, perhaps it’s a logical fate for the beloved Jazzmaster design. Fender originally created them to capitalise on, you guessed it, jazz guitarists who were looking for something solid, comfortable, and vibrant to play out their soulful tunes on. To Fender’s surprise, the burgeoning world of surf rockers were the ones who laid eyes on it with a greedy grin and appropriated the guitar for that iconic twangy sound.
Since it’s inception the Jazzmaster has done the rounds, straddling the dirty pits of grunge guitarists, pronouncing out the delayed laments of indie rockers, and even making appearances in the arsenal of metal rock players. It’s a versatile guitar that escaped its master’s intentions to become a wild beast of its own.
So maybe this Frankenstein’s monster of a new hollow instrument is a full circle, middle finger in the face of the Jazzmaster’s legacy. Perhaps Fender are saying: “Hey, at the end of the day we know that whatever we do you guys are gonna find your own use for it. So here’s some bastard guitar, have fun!”
The Acoustasonic guitar comes with a new humbucker designed by Tim Shaw, promising to power its acoustic sound with some edge. Fender’s engineers say the the Jazzmaster body surprisingly lends itself to the acoustic form, offering a warm and authentic acoustic tone thanks to its offset shape which enhances the low and mid-frequencies.
To be honest, it sounds pretty f–king good when it’s being used for some fuzzy blues. Whilst I’ve not played or used it in person, from what I’ve heard the acoustic tone sounds a bit flat to me – despite Fender’s claims of the body lending itself to resonance I’m not sure how true that really is.
It certainly looks shocking, I’ll give it that. In the way that many of the great guitars have at first release and glance, it takes you by surprise when you first see it. It simply needs to find its players to make a mark – whether it will find the right finger-fretting mates to be a success will have to be seen and heard. It may simply go down in history as one of Fender’s many strange mutant releases.