Fender’s new Mustang GT 2.0 range covers the little GT40 home amp, this review’s studio/stage-oriented GT100 and the GT200 model designed for bigger stages.
The Mustang is a slick digital solid state amp that comes with some exciting new age extras like Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity. If you’re familiar with the Line 6 Spider Pro Jams, Peavey Vypyrs, Vox VTX or Fender’s previous Mustangs you will have an idea of what the series brings to the table.
The Mustang GT100 retails here at $899 rrp, with an optional footswitch that will add a further $89 to your spend. If you’re thinking about the significance of the footswitch and whether you should get it or not, let me tell you that you absolutely should. Clean and robust looking, the footswitch has four switches. The first lets you choose the mode/function while the other three have different functions depending on which mode you are in. The footswitch can be set to three modes. In the first mode the pedal is just your standard pedal where stomping switches lets you change between the primary ‘channels’ – in this case the first three presets in the library.
You can choose and allocate your three favourite presets to each switch using the Setlist function, or by using the Quick Access function. The second mode is an Effects mode that turns the footswitch effectively into a pedal board which you can set your favourite reverbs, delays, overdrives, etc into. It also allows you to control and bypass effects within the programmed presets. The last of the three modes turn the footswitch into a 60-second looper that is very easy to use and is such a fun tool for learning/practising and creating music with.
Another feature of the footswitch is the Tuner, where if you hold down the last switch for a set amount of time, it turns the GT into a tuner. Unlike the features above though I’d advise against using the built-in tuner as it’s slow and confusing, and frustrating to use due to the lag/latency.
The Mustang GT100 itself is very user-friendly in layout and surprisingly light for a 100W amplifier. The top-mounted panel includes seven of your normal rotary tone control knobs: Volume, Gain, Treble, Mids, Bass etc., plus a small LCD screen, a rotary control knob and various smaller flush buttons that help you navigate and control the massive digital database.
Above the top of the open back are the power and footswitch inputs, a USB port, four FX ports and two XLR plugs. The XLRs are brilliant as you can plug the Mustang GT straight into your DAW and start recording. For me, the most impressive part of this amp is that it has Bluetooth and Wifi, which means you can directly connect to your electronic devices – and it can update its firmware without having to plug into an external source. The Bluetooth function not only allows you to play back music through the amp itself, which is a great tool for learning and playing along to your favourite tracks, but it can be used to connect you to the Fender Tone App.
This app is an amazing resource as it’s a database that you and other musicians can upload your/their own presets for everyone else to use. You can also use it to change the preset of your amp from across the room – which is a great feature but unfortunately proved riddled with problems, eg. your Bluetooth sometimes disconnects without warning, or if you turn off your phone screen it also disconnects.
Features aside, your new amp needs to sound good right? So let’s get to it! Trialling the amp through my American Fender Telecaster with double humbuckers the clean presets sound great! There are actually many clean presets that sound super awesome and bring a ton of flavour, with the basic ‘59 Twin proving my favourite.
If you like your classic Fender clean tones you won’t be disappointed with what you find here. That said, I’d recommend going into the Global EQ and switching to either the Flat EQ or Bright Cut before playing because I found that the trebles/highs were quite harsh to begin with. Of course, that might just be due to the fact its new solid-state Celestion 12″ speaker, designed with Bluetooth streaming in mind, haven’t been run in yet.
The crunch or the bluesy tones are very tasty as well, some of the presets sounding super crisp with the perfect amount of twang and dirt that really make your notes sing. Paired up with a slight delay, or reverb, or flange the Mustang GT shines like a diamond in the rough, with the Rockabilly and Black Hole Vibe taking the top spots!
If you are looking for something that will blow your mind with the distortion/overdriven sounds then, unfortunately, you will have to look elsewhere. Overall the overdrive/distortions on offer don’t sound amazing. I mean they’re good, but good is all you get. To me, they sound super digital, scooped and hifi, and though the GT tries to emulate it lacks the warmth and depth needed to sound like an authentic overdriven valve amp. Thus the overall impression can come off as fake. Also when changing between the digital presets there are volume drops and jumps, so beware and adjust accordingly.
That’s not to say there aren’t some fun and tasty distorted/overdriven presets on board! I loved playing through the Puppet Master, Pigs Can Fly, Far Beyond Driven and with my guilty pleasure, the Metal Octave. I tried running my own distortion/overdrive pedals through the amp to see if I could get a different outcome but as expected they didn’t make the distortion/overdrive sound much better.
The range of effects on the Mustang GT is what’s most impressive and what lends it real versatility. It has all the effects under the sun and creates a great place to explore and experiment with sounds. I love how you can chain the effects and amps into the order you want. Putting the same effect on the pre- or post-chain can completely change the sound of a single preset, and essentially gives you infinite possibilities – which I lost many of my hours to!
Summing up I reckon that for its $899 price the Fender Mustang GT100 is an ideal sophomore amplifier for student guitarists. I do think it’s wrong that the $89 footswitch isn’t included when really it gives you access to a quarter of the Mustang’s options and flexibility.
Being a 100-watt amplifier means the owner can take it from home to gigging and performing. It is a light, easy to use amplifier that has a ton of features making playing fun and easy. The sound is plenty versatile and would give student guitarists an amazing window into the world of pedals and sounds, and help them explore any yet unmarked territories. Having the capability to also plug the Mustang GT into your DAW and start recording is again such a powerful tool for guitarists who are just starting and learning about recording.
If you’re a budding guitarist looking to upgrade to your first big thing, don’t be afraid to saddle up with the Mustang GT.