Most aspiring guitar heroes will never develop the chops of a Hendrix or a Townsend but thanks to the Fender Mustang GT series, it just got way easier to steal their sound.
The amps, paired with the Fender Tone app, can simulate the sounds of not just other amps but seemingly limitless variations of effect pedals. So if you are looking to recreate Stevie Ray Vaughn’s signature sound, it’s no problem according to Fender’s Rick Heins, who worked on the amps’ design. The amp series “can appeal to some one who is a traditionalist who wants classic tones or it can appeal to a younger player who is not afraid to try new things."
“Its very easy to get classic amp tones,” Heins said. “We have done 21 different amp models including Fender’s most beloved tube amplifiers like the Deluxe Reverb and the Twin.”
While there’s no substitute for a real tube amp, for under $250 the Mustang GT 40 gets pretty close. The very first preset and the default setting is a 60s Twin Reverb, arguably Fender’s most iconic. The reissue will set you back $1,300, but for a fifth of the price the Mustang models the Twin’s tones almost to a tee. You can practically imagine the glow and the warmth of the non-existent tubes as you hammer power cords and crunch through riffs.
But the amps’ ability to experiment and reproduce sounds without thousands of dollars of effects is the marquee feature. “You can get as creative as you want to with the effects and the amplifiers,” Heins said. “You can stack effects in ways you cant in the real world, with effects after the amp in the signal chain. Or mix them up. You aren’t bound by pedals and cables, which allows you to create sounds that are totally unorthodox and deep.”
The Fender Tone app is crucial managing the enormous options. “It’s a pretty infinite canvas in terms of what you can do,” according to Ethan Kaplan, Fender’s chief digital officer. While you can use the interfaces and controls directly on the amps, the app is a more intuitive method. The Mustang GTs come with around 100 preset sounds already loaded and as the amps connect to your WiFi network, Fender will be pushing updates and additional presets as time goes on. But those are really just a point of departure. Where you take it from there is up to you. Maybe start with the ‘Purple Rain’ preset, add a little fuzz and — cue the impossible — make Prince sound even dirtier.
“Something we want people to realize is that when you buy this amp, that’s not the end. As the months go on, we are going to keep adding artists’ presets, new effects, amplifier models,” Kaplan said. “The amp you have a month from now is going to be better than the amp you have today.”For more than 25 years, Men’s Journal has been the expert in all things gear — from mountain bikes to fitness trackers, blenders to watches, and drones to cars. We take pride in a rigorous review process that includes testing and torturing. While our standards remain high as ever, our site now includes affiliate links, which means that if you buy something using these links, we may receive a commission.