Fender amplifiers have a long history with professional electric guitarists and there are many well-known models. Fender tube amps are classic and the choice of many pros, but in the past few years new amp designs using digital technology have come on strong. In fact, some digital amps can imitate those classic tube sounds and some of the newest ones, like the redesigned line of Fender Mustang amps that come in 40-, 100-, and 200-watt models, may be some of the best. If you looked at Fender Mustang amps before, you might want to look again as they have been significantly upgraded with better effects, amp modeling technology and immediate updates via WiFi. I tried out the new GT-100, single-channel digital amp and think it has a lot to offer.
I first tried out the GT-100 as a typical guitar amp with a couple of basic presets. The dramatic changes in the sound offered by the modeling software were impressive and effects sounded great. Finding, changing and saving the preset sounds was very intuitive. In fact, unlike effects pedals and other programmable amps, I’d be pretty comfortable taking this to a gig, as is, knowing that I could make it sound good without having to read a manual or struggle to find a usable preset setting.
To provide better control of the GT amps, Fender offers Fender Tone, a free app for iOS and Android. Once installed and registered with Fender, the app allows your smartphone or device to connect over Bluetooth to manage and edit sounds and set lists. You can search and browse thousands of presets created by Fender sound engineers, and well-known guitarists. If you develop some great sounds, you can share your presets via text, email or social channels.
Digging further into the electronics with the app or the full-color LCD display can quickly get you one of the 21 classic amp models from a late ‘50s Champ to a mid-’60s Princeton to solid Twin Reverb, but resets are not limited to classic Fender amps. There are lots of modeling and effects options. Once you have a model set up, you have easy access to 46 different professional effects that can be inserted anywhere in the signal chain. Fender gets extra points for a great sound designing tool that not only works with an app, but also from an easy to read display that you can actually see clearly on stage. For practice sessions, the GT-100 lets you plug in an aux cable or stream audio from a mobile device via Bluetooth wireless connection.
To get the most from the GT series of amps, you’ll want to consider the MGT-4 four-button footswitch that comes standard with Mustang GT200 and is optional ($79) for Mustang GT40 and GT100 models. The footswitch enables convenient control of the built-in tuner, amp preset selection, effects bypass, and a 60-second looper (looping functions are only available when using the MGT-4). Additionally, the EXP-1 Expression Pedal, optional for all three Mustang GT amps, is a dual-mode digital pedal for controlling volume and amp/effect parameters. Either pedal can be used individually by connecting to the “FOOTSWITCH” jack on the amp’s rear panel, or both pedals can be used simultaneously by “chaining” them together. Please note that while the footswitch jack is designed to work only with the MGT-4 footswitch, older Fender MS-4 and ULT-4 switches are reported to work, but the painted graphics on the top panel will appear to be different.
Fender has put a 12″ Celestion Special Design speaker in the GT-100 that can handle a wide array of tonal options and volume. The amp with 5-ply, 5/8″ plywood case covered in black textured vinyl with a black grille cloth, knobs and switches is surprisingly light at just 22 lbs and the recessed soft-touch flip-up handle makes the amp easy to transport. Other great features include a USB recording output, 3.5mm AUX input, 3.5mm headphone output, and stereo XLR line outs make the GT series great all-around amps for practice or performance.
The Mustang GT-100 modeling amp is a very versatile and very usable guitar amp with just about every feature you could ask for. It can faithfully emulate many of the greatest guitar set-ups right out of the box and, with a growing community of users and Fender support, it’s likely that even more downloadable sound options will be available soon.
Street Price – $399.99
Optional MGT-4 Footswitch – $79.99