By Daniel Corey
This past January, at Winter NAMM 2020, I was very fortunate to be able to talk to Fender Masterbuilder Carlos Lopez about his new Masterbuilt Acoustasonic Telecaster in Cadillac Smoke Metallic. This premium Acoustasonic Tele has amazing features, including a special lacquer finish, a two-piece Mahogany body and spruce top, ebony bridge, and a streaked ebony 9.5” radius fretboard. An amazing instrument, indeed; but before we go further, let’s take a look back and see how this all started.
Rewind to last year at Winter NAMM 2019: much to my joy, Fender premiered the American Acoustasonic® Telecaster®. According to Fender’s homepage, the Acoustasonic Tele “combines traditional acoustic craftsmanship with a revolutionary Fishman-designed Acoustic Engine to deliver new sounds and versatility.”
I was lucky enough to attend Winter NAMM for the first time last year, so I had the opportunity to give the Acoustasonic Tele an initial whirl in the Fender showroom. In short, I fell in love.
The Acoustasonic Tele plays beautifully, and the tone is amazing. In my opinion, I found it to be not so much a standard electric/acoustic guitar as it is a hybrid: lighter in touch than an acoustic, slightly heavier than an electric. The five-position switch deftly varies the sound of the Fender and Fishman-designed acoustic engine, giving the player a similarly hybrid sound, from clean acoustic to edgy drive.
The Acoustasonic Tele also comes in a line that features premium woods, called the Limited Edition Exotic Acoustasonic Telecaster.
When I recently played a set on the floor of Guitar Center in Sherman Oaks, management let me pick any guitar that I wanted to use. Of all the wares on hand, I chose the Acoustasonic Tele to present my songs with. Here’s a video of me performing my original tune Bring Me Home with my Fender axe of choice.
Now, fast-forward back to Winter NAMM 2020. In a previous post, I wrote about Fender Day One at the show, and how I had the opportunity to try the new American Acoustasonic Stratocaster. The body features the signature Strat look, and the acoustic engine sports varied Strat-inspired tones. According to Fender’s homepage, like its Tele cousin, the American Acoustasonic Stratocaster has three pickup systems: Fishman Under-Saddle Transducer, Fishman Acoustasonic Enhancer, and Fender Acoustasonic Noiseless™ magnetic pickup.
It was while I was checking out the Acoustasonic Strat that I had the pleasure of catching up with Masterbuilder Carlos Lopez. After interviewing him about the Eric Johnson ’54 Virginia Strat, I was able to speak with Carlos about his Masterbuilt Acoustasonic Telecaster in Cadillac Smoke Metallic, a supremely beautiful instrument.
Here’s what Carlos had to say:
“So, I was approached by Ed McGee, and he wanted an Acoustasonic Masterbuilt version. This one’s a little bit different because, on the Acoustasonics, they have the printed paint as the finish, but this one is actually lacquered finish with herring bone binding, upper flame, and the white binding that overlaps. It’s in the Smoke Metallic. It’s my take on it, what I would do, and how I would want it. So, that’s what I did.”
From what I could tell of Carlos’ special Masterbuilt Tele, the lacquer finish really set it apart from the rest Acoustasonic line. It gives the spruce top the sheen of a standard acoustic guitar, while retaining the Acoustasonic look and performance.
“I think people dig it,” Carlos continued. “The neck is from the Exotic Series, and I really didn’t do too much different on that. But I really wanted to focus on the body, just so it appeals to a lot more people.”
I wish that I’d had the chance to play Carlos’ Masterbuilt Acoustasonic, but asking him to hand it over just felt wrong. You wouldn’t ask Stevie Ray Vaughan to hand over his signature Strat, or Jimmy Page to let you noodle on his Tele. Perhaps another day, an opportunity will present itself.
In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the standard Acoustasonic Teles that they have on the wall at Guitar Center.
Happy music-making, DangerKatts!
- Daniel Corey