Equipment Review: Fender Acoustic SFX Combo Hand-Rubbed Walnut Stain Limited Edition Guitar Amplifier

Fender Acoustic SFX Amplifer

Amplifiers that are specially designed for acoustic instruments were a boon when they first arrived on the scene — no more playing instruments capable of great acoustic tone through open-backed electric guitar amplifiers, or carting a PA around just to get a good guitar sound. For singer-songwriters whose major songwriting partner is their guitar, this was huge. Acoustic amps made it possible for songwriters and professional acoustic guitarists to reach past an intimate gathering without compromising their acoustic sound in order to reach every corner of the room. With Fender’s Acoustic SFX Combo Guitar Amplifier, acoustic performers not only get a powerful stereo amp designed for great tone reproduction, but also one that actually sounds acoustic.

This amp has a lot of great features, but the one we have to put right up front is the physical design. While ultimately portable, this amp does not look like a traditional guitar amp. In fact, with its curved natural wood design, this amp looks more like an acoustic instrument than a piece of gear. It has a simple, but striking, appearance. Our particular review unit is the limited edition hand-rubbed walnut stain model. The walnut-stained finish and dark gray trim complement the shape and features of the amplifier. Its attractive look makes it suitable in either the studio or your living room. The amplifier also features a fitted cover for proper storage. For all its good looks, it is well designed, solid and seems well equipped for travel to rehearsals or performance venues. The integrated top handle is a great feature.

Inside the box is a 2×160-watt stereo amplifier that supports two channels with independent EQs (bass, treble, and mid) and phase switches that help to dial in the perfect sound for your instrument and performance space while keeping feedback out of the mix.The amp easily handles two guitars or a guitar and vocal microphone for solo performance. 16V phantom power is available on the mic input. Another nice feature is the unit’s quality hall reverb, chorus, delay, and Vibratone effects. A handy aux-in jack is provided for external playback devices and an 1/8″ headphone jack allows for private listening. If you do happen to play your acoustic instrument in larger venues, the Acoustic SFX amp has a balanced XLR direct out, which lets you use the Acoustic SFX as a monitor when sending your signal out to the house PA.

This portable amp has many outstanding features, including its price tag, but the most notable feature is Fender’s Stereo Field Expansion (SFX) technology delivered in a cabinet designed to increase the amp’s projection. In addition to an 8” main speaker and a 1” compression driver, the design includes a side-firing 6″ speaker that has the effect of spreading sound around the room. Like listening to an unamplified acoustic instrument, the sound is less directional and, hence, more realistic sounding than traditional front-only speaker cabinet designs. Smaller venues really respond to the sonic image you can create with this amp and your instrument.

Street Price: $899.99

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