The Best College Dorm Room Amps – Under $120

Whether you’re looking for a quiet practice amp to bring to your college dorm, or just something that won’t wake the kids at night you’ve come to the right place. This list has everything from silent pocket amps to small, portable practice amps and everything in between – and all for under $120! (most things are well under $100).

Silent amps

I know what you’re thinking: Silent amps? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of an amp?

Well, the amps on this part of the list are silent to everyone but you!

VOX amPlug headphone only amps

The VOX amPlug headphone amps have been around since 2007, but they’ve recently gotten an overhaul. The new G2 versions feature an improved analog circuit, 9 effects (3 chorus, 3 delay and 3 reverb) and a fold-able plug to make it stow more easily in the pocket.

AC30

vox_amplug_ac30The VOX AC30 amPlug models the vintage AC30 top boost sound used by so many British bands in the 70’s.

Click to check the current price

Classic rock

vox_amplug_classicrockThe VOX Classic Rock amPlug models the classic UK 100 w amp sound. (think Marshall stack)

Click to check the current price

 

Metal

vox_amplug_metalLastly, the VOX Metal amPlug models the high gain US amp sound. (Think Fender Supersonic, Mesa Boogie and Peavey).

Great for lead tone, not so great for clean. 😉

Click to check the current price

CONCLUSION

PROS:

  • 2AAA batteries (Can use rechargeable).
  • Small enough to fit in your pocket.
  • 3.5mm input AUX jack so you can pipe music into the amPlug to play along to.
  • Surprisingly true tonal rendering for the style (i.e. AC30 sounds like a vintage AC30…).
  • Built in effects (chorus, delay and reverb).
  • Less than $40.
  • It’s an amp that can fit comfortably in your gig bag, making storage a non-issue.
  • Dead simple to use.

CONS:

  • No external output beyond headphone jack (difficult to record or play back for others).
  • Limited styles. (Compared to the digital modelers on this list which have 100’s of tonal possibilities).
  • No rhythm tracks.
  • Limited effects.

iRig

irigiRig is the ultimate in portable amp modeling and recording. About the size of an iPhone, the iRig sits between your guitar and your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Mac and select Android devices as well. Using IK Media’s AmpliTube multi-effects processor, you get:

• An integrated music player
• A dedicated recorder
• A tuner
• Large collection of digital models of amplifiers and stompboxes – vintage and new.

PROS:

  • Tons of realistic amp and effects modeling.
  • Easy to record what you play.
  • Send your output (raw or modeled) to an external amplifier.
  • Completely silent when using headphones, so you won’t wake your dorm mates (or the kids!).

CONS:

Requires a smart phone or tablet, so this is an awesome add-on but not the complete package.

Click to check the current price

Digitech Element XP

digitech_element_xpThe Digitech Element XP is a stompbox on steroids. Not as portable as the VOX amPlugs or iRig, but smaller than most practice amps (except those on this list below).

The Element XP at a glance:

• 58 effects (12 amps, 9 cabinets, 37 stomp boxes)
• 100 factory presets
• room for 100 user presets (edits to the factory presets)
• 20 tone/fx bank combinations
• Built-in chromatic tuner
• Built-in expression pedal – for Wah effect, volume swell, overdrive boost, etc..
• Power supply included
• 45 High quality drum patterns
• 1/4″ a guitar input along
• Stereo 1/4″ output jack
• Aux In to jam along with your favorite songs

PROS:

  • You get a ton of features and modeling capability in a relatively small and inexpensive package.
  • Recording is easy since the stereo line out can be run into another amplifier or mixer for direct recording.

CONS:

  • Not quite as portable as the iRig and amPlug.
  • Can be easy to get lost in effects and amp tweaking for the novice.

Click to check the current price

VOX stomplab IIG

vox_stomplab_iigThe Vox StompLab IIG (A.K.A. Vox StompLab 2G) is much like the Digitech Element XP, except perhaps a bit easier to use and built with metal housing.

Features include:

• 100 presets categorized into styles such as rock, blues, metal, and pop.
• Easy to use and intuitive interface.
• 103 types of modeling effects.
• Edit and save 20 of your own user models.
• Battery (4 AA) or AC adapter powered.
• Tuner.
• Headphone out line.

PROS:

  • Easy to use, despite the large array of models and effects.
  • Solid, yet compact build.

CONS:

  • Not as complex or versatile as the Digitech Element XP
    Not as simple to record as the iRig
  • No looper or rhythm samples

Click to check the current price

Zoom G1Xon

zoom_g1xonThe Zoom G1Xon Guitar Effects With Expression Pedal.

• 75 effects, including distortion, compression, modulation, delay, reverb, and 14 realistic amp models
• Built-in expression pedal for overdrive, volume control, wah-wah, or filtering
• Onboard chromatic tuner and Looper
• 68 rhythm patterns
• Separate input jacks for connection of guitar and personal music player, plus an output jack that can be used with amplifier or headphones
• Runs on 4 AA batteries or optional AC adapter, with alkaline battery life of 20 hours

PROS:

  • Has rhythm generator and looper, making it fun and easy to creating your own backing tracks to jam over.

CONS:

  • Not as solid looking as the Vox Stompbox IIG.
  • Looper only has a 30 second buffer.

Click to check the current price

QUIET COMBO AMPS

You may be surprised to learn that many major amp manufacturers today have a battery powered, mini version of their amps available. Most run on a single 9-volt battery, others on the standard AA size.

Marshall MS-4 Micro Stack Amp

Marshall-MS-4-Micro-Stack-AmpThe Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is what it sounds like – a miniaturized Marshall Stack.
At a glance:

  • 1w battery powered guitar amplifier
  • 2 independent speaker cabs – each with a single 3? speaker
  • Amp head with Gain, Volume and Tone controls.
  • Powered by a single 9v battery or optional AC power adapter
  • Headphone jack

The Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is small and stands only 9 3/4? tall, and is switchable between Clean and Overdrive modes.

Click to check the current price

Fender Mini Tone-Master

Fender-Mini-Tone-MasterThis is a miniaturized version of the classic Tone-Master and Fender does a great job of keeping true to the authentic Fender details here – cab corners, retro grille cloth, and vintage white control knobs.

At a glance:

  • 1w battery powered amplifier that features two 2? speakers.
  • Gain, Volume, Tone and Power controls.
  • Powered by single 9V battery (included), or AC adapter

Click to check the current price

Fender-Mini-57-Twin

This is quite simply a battery powered, highly portable version of the original Fender ’57 Twin Amp.

Fender-Mini-57-Twin

At a glance:

  • Completely captures the vintage 50’s look with its miniature chicken head knobs, down to its tweed covering and brown grille.
  • Made of real wood and not plastic.
  • 1w battery powered guitar amplifier with twin 2? speakers.
  • Built-in distortion, Power, volume, and tone controls.
  • Runs on a single 9V battery or power adapter.

Click to check the current price

The VOX MINI3 G2.

The Mini3 might just be the ultimate battery powered modeling amp – It’s powerful enough for street performances or picnics with the family or wherever, and check out the features:

VOX_MINI3_G2_ivory

  • Based on the VOX Valvetronix family of amps and includes a new Bassilator circuit that provides richer low-end frequencies.
  • 8 editable effects.
  • 11 amp models.
  • A direct line connection for ultimate clean tone, or portable PA!
  • powered by 6-AA batteries or AC adapter.

Click to check the current price

Vox-AC1-RhythmVOX

The AC1 RhythmVOX is a great battery powered practice amp AND also a rhythm box too!

At a glance:

  • 66 Rhythm/Song Patterns for rhythm practice and experimentation.
  • A host of song style beats.
  • Configurable beat patterns, tempo and volume.
  • Gain, tone, and volume controls.
  • Headphone jack.
  • Aux In jack – to jam along with your CD or MP3 player.
  • A pair of 3? speakers.

Click to check the current price

Orange Micro Crush

The Orange Micro Crush CR3 is all Orange, from the woven grill to rubber footstools and trademark Orange finish. it’s also wood, and not plastic.

Orange-Micro-Crush-CR3

At a glance:

  • 3w battery powered amp.
  • Single 4? speaker.
  • Clean and Overdrive channels.
  • Tone control.
  • Chromatic tuner.
  • Headphone jack
  • Runs on a single 9v battery or AC adapter.

Click to check the current price

CONCLUSION

PROS:

  • Each has a headphone jack, so you can practice without waking the neighbors but also has a speaker (or 2) so you can play without headphones.
  • The run on batteries, so you don’t need to worry about an outlet or power strip and can take it anywhere.
  • Very portable

CONS:

  • Not as fully featured as some of the modeling boxes on the list (eg: iRig, Digitech, Stomplab and Zoom)

THE LEGENDARY PIGNOSE 7-100

The Pignose 7-100 is a unique looking and playing amplifier. It’s genius is its simplicity. It has a single knob that looks like a pig’s nose and is located on the front. That one knob controls the power, volume and distortion. It works with your guitar’s volume knob too, so the tonal possibilities are surprisingly diverse.

pignose-7-100

At a glance:

  • 5w amp with 5″ speaker.
  • Runs on 6 AA batteries or an optional AC adapter.
  • About the size of a shoe box and weighs around 5lbs.
  • Hinged design and can be played either fully closed, wide open or at any point in between.
  • It also has an open space inside that can be used to store the AC adapter or guitar cable when not in use.
  • A preamp out jack which makes it possible to play the Pignose through a larger and more powerful amplifier (or PA) or straight into a mixing board.

The Pignose 7-100 has a distinctive look and sound that is like no other. It’s stylish and funky, and is definitely a conversation starter.

Read the full review here

Click to check the current price

 

Related Posts:

Orange Micro Crush PiX: CR3 vs CR6

The Orange Micro Crush PiX line of amps is Orange Amplifiers’ entry into the portable battery powered amplifier market and They are a worthy addition.

The Orange Micro Crush CR3 and CR6 are both decked out with with a woven grill, tiny rubber footstools and the trademark Orange finish, just like their big brothers in the Orange Amps family.

What sets the Orange Micro Crush PiX amps apart from other battery powered amplifiers is that they are not plastic – their wood and metal construction makes it a bit more durable than some other mini-amps.

Orange Micro Crush PiX CR3

Orange-Micro-Crush-CR3The Orange Micro Crush CR3 Amp is a 3w solid-state amp and features a single 4″ speaker. It has no on-board sound effects (most portable battery powered amplifiers don’t), but features an overdrive channel and tone and volume controls.

The clean tone is a bit on the light side, which may make it a bad out-of-the box pairing with a telecaster (though you could always roll the tone knob back on the guitar itself to even it out). But the overdrive channel is where the Micro Crush CR3 shines – it’s just incredible for such a little thing. I’d call it a Tiny Terror, except that name is already taken. Let’s say it’s a Micro Terror, or Tiny Beast. 😉

I already reviewed the CR3 a while back, so you can read the full review here.

Orange Micro Crush PiX CR6

Orange-Micro-Crush-CR6The CR6 is like the Micro Crush CR3’s big brother. Like the CR3, the CR6 is also a battery powered amplifier, so it’s totally portable and you can play it without disturbing the neighbors (unless you really crank it and live in an apartment..)

The features at a glance of the cr6:

  • Controls: Gain, volume, tone
  • Inputs/Outputs: Headphone line out; auxiliary line in
  • Output: Stereo, 6 watts
  • Speakers: 2 x 4″
  • Built-in Tuner
  • Wood cabinet construction
  • Battery power (18V AC power supply sold separately)

The Micro Crush CR6 lets you play with headphones, so as not to annoy the neighbors (or any co-habitants), but the twin 4″ speakers can put out plenty of decibels for their size. Meaning, you can still rock out when you want to.

The Micro Crush CR6 has decent clean tone and great Orange amp crunch tones.

Watch the Demo:

CR3 vs CR6

OK, so the CR3 and the CR6 are very similar, but how are they different?

Differences between the Micro Crush CR3 and CR6:

SPEAKERS:

  • CR6 has twin stereo 4″ speakers
  • CR3 has a single 4″ speaker

INPUTS:

  •  CR3 has only an instrument input
  •  CR6 also has an aux input, so you can plug in your
    favorite mp3 player and jam along

WATTAGE:

  •  CR3 is 3W
  •  CR6 is 6W

SIZE:

  •  CR3 measures about 6″ x 6″ x 3″ and weighs 1.87 lbs
  •  CR6 measures 10.5″ x 8″ x 5.5″ and weighs 4.5 lbs

Both the Orange Micro Crush CR6 and Orange Micro Crush CR3 are made of solid wood and feature the same Orange grill covering as the larger Orange amplifiers. Both are battery powered amplifiers that are completely portable and compact and both are excellent practice amps.

Neither one is appropriate for gigs, and they likely won’t keep up with a full band in practice. But that’s not what they’re for anyway. These little guys ooze Orange tone and vibe, and they’re small enough to leave in the living room without attracting too much undue attention from significant others.

Price:
The Orange Micro Crush CR3 Amp sells for around $80 (with power adapter!), while the Orange Micro Crush CR6 is currently only available through certain 3rd party sellers and can be found for around $150 at the time of this review. Yes, the CR6 is quite a bit more money, but it’s also getting harder to come by so it’s a bit of a collector’s item too so it should hold more of its value.

Conclusion:

You don’t get any effects, but that’s common with this size amplifier. What you do get is a very portable little practice amp and a good taste of Orange tone.

These are excellent amps for rock and metal, and each Orange Micro Crush makes a great addition to the office or living room for those times when you just want to plug in an play, but don’t want to (or can’t) rattle the windows.

Related Posts:

The legendary Pignose 7-100 Portable Amp Review.

The Pignose 7-100 Legendary small portable amp might just change your life…

One of the best things you can do as a guitarist to improve your playing is to shake things up a bit. Change your routine. Change what you play or how you play it. Many times this leads to buying a new piece of guitar gear, which is OK – provided you don’t fool yourself into thinking it will make you play like a specific guitarist….

For example, buying an Eric Clapton Fender Stratocaster will not make you play (or sound) like Eric Clapton. It will make you sound like you, playing an Eric Clapton Fender Stratocaster.

But that’s not to say that changing guitar gear won’t change your sound. It absolutely will – if it’s different than what you currently use.

If you only ever play electric guitar, then learning to play on an acoustic guitar will change how you play the electric (and vice versa).

To that end, I am recommending you take a look at the Pignose 7-100 Legendary. It’s a small, portable amplifier with a look and sound all its own.

It’s a vintage look and unique sound, but it’s best feature is its simplicity.

Behold: The Pignose 7-100

pignose-7-100The Pignose 7-100 is a 5w, truly portable amplifier. It’s a solid state amp with a 5″ speaker and runs on 6 AA batteries or an optional AC adapter.

It’s small, about the size of a shoe box and weighs around 5lbs. You can even attach a standard guitar strap and sling the Pignose over your shoulder, for maximum portability.

It features a hinged design and can be played either fully closed, wide open or at any point in between. And if you have a buddy open and close it while you’re playing, you can achieve a sort of poor-man’s wah-wah effect.

It also has an open space inside that can be used to store the AC adapter when not in use. I don’t have the adapter and have opted for rechargeable AA batteries instead, so I use that cavity to store my guitar cable.

The Pignose 7-100 also has a preamp out jack which makes it possible to play the Pignose through a large and more powerful amplifier (or PA) or straight into a mixing board.

pignose-7-100-inside.jpg

Pignose 7-100 Inside View

But what makes the Pignose 7-100 standout as a way to shake up your playing and get you out of your rut is it’s super-simple feature set. It has exactly one knob on the whole thing. That’s it.

Oh, and it’s shaped like a pig’s nose. Very cool.

Turn it to the the right until it clicks, and it’s on at very low volume. Volume increases as you turn the knob further to the right, but the tone changes with it.

You see, this is where the Pignose 7-100 gets interesting…

Why I recommend the Pignose 7-100

The Pignose 7-100 has a distinctive look and sound that is like no other. It’s stylish and funky, and playing through it is bound to change how you play and how you think about playing.

Here’s why…

How to use a Pignose 7-100

I know a lot of players who never touch the knobs on their guitars. I’ve even seen instructional videos that claim the control knobs on a guitar should never be touched. They say to leave them all – volume, and tone for all pickups – on 10, and just adjust the settings on the amp. They claim that anything less than 10 will simply rob your tone and make you guitar sound crappy.

That’s complete and total bullstein.

Those knobs are on your guitar for a reason! Truly great players know this, because they took the time to learn it.

This is why I love the Pignose 7-100 so much. It sounds like total crap, if all you do is crank it to the max and do the same on your guitar tone and volume knobs. But dial those back, and you get some sweet tone for a 5″ speaker.

You see, the Pignose 7-100 is really a teacher. It practically forces you to learn to play more dynamically, and use the knobs on your guitar to achieve good tone. It’s a different way of thinking than many are used to.

How to get a clean tone from your Pignose 7-100
  1. Turn the volume to max on the Pignose 7-100, and the volume on your guitar to just above off.
  2. Turn the volume on your guitar to max, and the volume on the Pignose 7-100 to just above “on”

From there, you can increase the volume on the guitar and/or the Pignose 7-100 to get more overdrive and (eventually) increasingly fuzzy distortion.

Yeah, crank everything to the max and it will sound like an amp with a blown speaker. But learn to control the subtleties of your tone, and you will be rewarded with a great sound and a remarkably responsive little box of sweetness.

Here’s an example tone Demo:

Pignose 7-100 Blues demo

Here’s a really good demo of the blues possibilities (WARNING: the volume in the beginning is low, but gets LOUD when he starts playing..):

Conclusion

Are there better all-around amps that are just as portable? Sure. The Roland Micro Cube and Vox Pathfinder are two solid contenders, but the Pignose 7-100 is it’s own creature. It looks different, sounds different and plays different.

If you want something that’s easy to carry from place to place and different enough to help you break out of any rut you might be in, then the Pignose 7-100 Legendary portable amplifier fits the bill.

Related Posts:

The 8 Best Battery Powered Guitar Amps Today!

Battery powered guitar amplifiers have come a long way. Technology has advanced to the point where you can now get classic Fender or Marshall tones in an amp about the size of a lunch box.

Better still- you can get classic Vox tones with a built-in beatbox for honing your rhythm chops anywhere you go. Or get virtually 11 different amps all in one, small portable battery powered amplifier.

The times, they are a changing but I think these changes are a good thing.

Here are 8 of the best battery powered guitar amplifiers on the market today, from big-name makers.

Marshall MS-4 Micro Stack Amp Review

The Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is what it sounds like – a miniaturized Marshall Stack.

Marshall-MS-4-Micro-Stack-Amp

It’s a 1w battery powered guitar amplifier featuring 2 independent speaker cabs – each with a single 3″ speaker – and an amp head with Gain, Volume and Tone controls. The Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is small and stands only 9 3/4″ tall.

The amp is switchable between Clean and Overdrive modes, and the single Tone control lets you adjust the balance between bass and treble. The Marshall MS-4 Is a playable little amp that is well suited for classic rock and blues, but not jazz or metal.

The Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is powered by a single 9v battery or optional AC power adapter and sells for about $60.

read more for a full review and demo of the Marshall MS-4 Micro stack.

Marshall MS-2

What a great time we live in!

Marshall-MS-2-Mini-Amp

Modern technology has now made it possible to grab the Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp and take that Marshall tone with you – anywhere.

The Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp has that classic Marshall look and crunch, with surprisingly loud volume for such a little thing. it’s just 5-3/4″ high and even includes a belt clip!

It features controls for overdrive, tone, and volume and is powered by one 9V battery.

The Marshall MS-2 Mini Amp is a 1w battery powered amp that makes a great and fun gift or a truly portable practice amp, and sells for around $45

Demo

Fender Mini Tone-Master

Last up on the mini Fender hit parade is the Fender Mini Tone-Master Amp. This is a miniaturized version of the classic Tone-Master. As with all amps mini, the Mini Tone-Master provides pretty nice tone – considering its tiny size.

Fender-Mini-Tone-Master

Fender does another exceptional job of keeping true to the authentic Fender details here – cab corners, retro grille cloth, and vintage white control knobs.

The Fender Mini Tone-Master Amp is a small 1w battery powered amplifier that features two 2″ speakers, Gain, Volume, Tone and Power controls. It runs on a single 9V battery (included), or AC adapter and measures 6-1/2″ W x 6-1/8″ H x 2-1/4″ D

Unlike the Fender ’57 mini, the Fender Mini Tone-Master Amp is all plastic, but lightweight and small. It sells for $29.99.

Clean DEMO:

Distortion DEMO:

Fender ’57 Mini

Fender-Mini-57-Twin

The Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp is for all the Fender Tweed fans out there. This is quite simply a battery powered, highly portable version of the original.

Measuring at just 2.8″ x 9″ x 8″ and weighing less than 2 lbs, this is a ’57 Twin for your desk or to just grab and go practice anytime!

The Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp completely captures the vintage 50’s look from its miniature chicken head knobs, down to its tweed covering and brown grille.

It’s a bit more sturdy than many other battery powered guitar amplifiers out there, since the Fender Mini ’57 Twin is made of real wood and not plastic.

Beyond the vintage look, it’s a rocking little amp too. The Fender Mini ’57 Twin is a small 1w battery powered guitar amplifier with twin 2″ speakers, Built-in distortion, Power, volume, and tone controls. It runs on a single 9V battery or power adapter.

The Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp sells for about $43, and would make a nice addition to a game room, or office or bedroom.

read more for a full review and demo of the Fender Mini ’57 Twin Amp.

Fender Mini Deluxe

fender-min-deluxe-amp

The Fender Mini Deluxe looks exactly like a shrunken Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. It even includes identical “dogbone” handle, chrome control plate, mini chicken-head knobs. It’s a 1w, battery powered guitar amplifier with a single 2″ speaker. The Fender Mini Deluxe runs on one 9v battery, and includes headphone out, Volume, Tone and Drive controls.

The Fender Mini Deluxe measures at 5.8″ x 6.2″ x 2.8″ and weighs in at just over 1 lb. It’s highly portable, and great for practice anywhere.

The Fender Mini Deluxe sells for around $35.

read more for a full review and demo of the Fender Mini Deluxe.

VOX Mini3 G2 Modeling Guitar Amplifier Review

The VOX MINI3 G2 is quite possibly the ultimate portable modeling amp.

VOX_MINI3_G2_ivory

The VOX MINI3 G2, Ivory

It’s powerful and portable enough for street performances or picnics with the family or wherever.

Unlike some other battery powered amps, the VOX MINI3 G2 is not a toy. It’s a serious modeling amp based on the VOX Valvetronix family of amps and includes a new Bassilator circuit that provides richer low-end frequencies, which is great high-gain players looking for a deep metal tone.

The VOX MINI3 G2 features 8 editable effects, 11 amp models and a direct line connection for ultimate clean tone, or portable PA!

The VOX MINI3 G2 runs on 6-AA batteries or AC adapter, weighs 6.6 lbs (3 kg) and measures10.32″ (262mm) x 6.85″ (174 mm) x 8.78″ (223mm).

read more for a full review and demo of the VOX MINI3 G2 .

Vox AC1 RhythmVOX Portable Practice Amp Review

Vox-AC1-RhythmVOX

The AC1 RhythmVOX is not just a great portable practice amp, but it’s a rhythm box too. The RhythmVOX features 66 Rhythm/Song Patterns for rhythm practice and experimentation. From straight forward metronome to song accompaniment with a host of song style beats, the AC1 RhythmVOX is a box of fun.

The quality of the beat patterns is excellent and the tempo and volume of each can be controlled in an intuitive way, so you can quickly dial in the settings you want.

Features include gain, tone, and volume controls, headphone jack, Aux In jack – to jam along with your CD or MP3 player and a pair of 3″ speakers.

Coming in at about the size of a lunchbox (7″W x 2-1/2″D x 5″H) and weighing about 1 lb, the Vox AC1 RhythmVOX is a truly portable battery powered amp, but also runs on AC adapter.

read more for a full review and demo of the AC1 RhythmVOX.

Orange Micro Crush

orange-micro-crush-amp

The Orange Micro Crush CR3 a 3w battery powered amp from famed Orange Amplifiers. With a single 4″ speaker, overdrive channel, and tone control, this little guy can rock!

The Orange Micro Crush CR3 is all Orange, from the woven grill to rubber footstools and trademark Orange finish. it’s also wood, and not plastic.

The CR3 has a chromatic tuner, headphone jack and runs on a single 9v battery 9or AC adapter).

It may be small, but the Orange Micro Crush CR3 is all Orange and it’s a little beast.

read more for a full review and demo of the Orange Micro Crush amp.

Related Posts:

Vox AC1 RhythmVOX Portable Practice Amp Review.

The AC1 RhythmVOX ups the ante on the battery powered guitar amplifier stage. It’s a great portable practice amp, but the beauty of the RhythmVOX lies in the 66 Rhythm/Song Patterns it provides for hours of fun.

Vox-AC1-RhythmVOXThe RhythmVOX can be used as a straight forward metronome, or song accompaniment with a host of song style beats.

Coming in at about the size of a lunchbox (7″W x 2-1/2″D x 5″H) and weighing about 1 lb, the Vox AC1 RhythmVOX is a truly portable battery powered amp.

AC1 RhythmVOX Features

Rhythm Features

At the heart of the AC1 is a Rhythm box. Sure, the RhythmVOX is a great little amp, but what really makes it stand apart from the rest of the portable battery powered amps are the Rhythm Features.

Rhythm specs at a glance:

  • Includes a total of 66 built-in Rhythm/Song Patterns
  • Tempo range: 40-240bpm
  • One extended-length additional song pattern

The Vox AC1 RhythmVOX includes 10 rhythm patterns ranging from standard, metronome beats – including 4 beat, 8 beat and 16 beat – to more advanced style-based pattens like blues, funk reggae and jazz.

Add to these patterns, the ability to select 6 different variations of each and you get a total of 66 rhythm parts to chose from! Also included is an extended, multi-measure drum part.

The quality of these beat patterns is excellent. The tempo and volume of each can be controlled in an intuitive way, so you can quickly dial in the settings you want.

Amp Features

The AC1 RhythmVOX is much more than just a rhythm box, it’s also a very competent little amp.

Here are a few of the amp features:

  • gain, tone, and volume controls
  • A pair of 3″ speakers delivers a full-bodied sound
  • A dedicated E-string tuner
  • headphone jack (essential for private practice)
  • Aux In jack – to jam along with your CD or MP3 player
  • Optional AC power adapter

The AC1 utilizes the same analog circuitry as the Vox amPlug series of headphone amps, and includes an Overdrive switch for increased sonic variation- on for high-gain sound;off for a bright, clean sound.

The RhythmVOX is a truly portable battery powered amp that runs off 6 AA batteries for up to 26 hours of play, but an AC power adapter is also available.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a beginner who is using the RhythmVOX to help practice keeping the beat or a more advanced player looking to break out of your rut and create some new avenues of exploration, this little guy delivers the goods.

AC1 RhythmVOX is impressive for a portable battery powered practice amp with a full compliment of tone shaping possibilities through the tone, volume, gain and overdrive controls. You’ll be surprised how good a pair of twin 3″ speakers can sound!

But the AC1 is also a great little beatbox, destined to send you down a host of new playing possibilities

The AC1 RhythmVOX currently sells for about $49 on Amazon.

Demo

I’ll finish things off with a demo of the Vox AC1 RhythmVOX in action:

(click here if the video above doesn’t play.)

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Peavey Raptor Backstage II Electric Guitar and Amp Value Pack Review.

This review of the Peavey Raptor Backstage II Electric Guitar and Amp Value Pack is broken down into 3 main parts: peavey raptor backstage pack, the Backstage amp, and the Raptor guitar itself.

The Peavey Raptor is a good, basic but versatile guitar. Excellent for beginners with a tight budget.

 

Peavey Raptor Backstage Pack

The Raptor Backstage II Pack is an excellent way to start an aspiring guitarist on the right path. Not only does this guitar pack include everything needed to start playing electric guitar, but it also includes the Total Musician Series™ instructional DVD to help kick-start beginners.

Peavey Raptor Backstage II Electric Guitar and Amp Value Pack Review

What’s included:

  • Raptor® Plus EX guitar
  • Transtube® Backstage® amp
  • nylon gig bag
  • digital tuner
  • strap
  • extra strings
  • cable
  • picks

(and of course, the Total Musician Series™ instructional DVD )

Peavey Backstage Amp

Peavey’s Backstage amp is a 10-watt, solid state amp that uses their patented TransTube technology to emulate the sound, warmth and “push back” of tube amplifiers. The Backstage also includes a separate input for jamming along to your favorite tracks on CD or mp3 player and a headphone input so you don’t disturb the neighbors.

  • 6″ custom-designed speaker
  • TransTube® preamp with 2 switchable channels
  • Volume and TransTube Overdrive controls
  • 2-band (hi -low) EQ
  • Tape/CD input for practice
  • Headphone jack
  • 10W (RMS)

Peavey Raptor® Plus EX electric guitar

Peavey’s Raptor® Plus EX electric guitar is a 25-1/2″ scale solid body guitar that’s well constructed and comfortable to play.

Feature include:

  • Dual-expanding truss rod with wrenchless, easy access adjustment wheel
  • 3 pickups – 1 Humbucker, and 2 single coil (HSS) configuration
  • Tremolo bridge
  • Master volume and tone controls
  • 5-way pickup selector, hum canceling in second and fourth position
  • Dual action torsion rod
  • The HSS pickup configuration provides for extra versatility in tone.

Here’s an example of the Raptor sound during the solo of the Beatles’ Let It Be, so you can see what it’s capable of:

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4 Retro Style Small Portable Battery Powered Amps for Under $50.

Here are 4 small retro style portable battery powered amps for under $50 – perfect for the traveling hobbyist!

These amps are as beautiful to look at as they are to hear, and they are perfect for hobbyists on a business trip. Lightweight and compact, they pack enough power to practice and they won’t disturb the guy in the next room over during your hotel stay.

These little champs can be good for backstage tune-ups as well.

The retro style also earns these little guys a spot of prominence in your home too – they’re just great decor!

Danelectro Hodad DH-1 Mini Amp

First up is the Danelectro Hodad DH-1, battery powered mini amp. This little guy (it ways about a pound and a half) has a classic ’60s tone and the style to match.

This amp is TINY. It measures in at 6″ x 5.5″ x 3.1″, and comes in a two tone brown and cream color scheme.

Danelectro-Hodad-DH-1

The Danelectro Hodad Amp has twin 2″ speakers, echo effect and vintage tremolo, with adjustable speed. You can also get a Mini pedal for additional effects, and you can use an AC adaptor since it chews through a 9 volt battery with ease.

The slapback echo and tremolo make the Danelectro Hodad DH-1 well suited to retro country, twang, and rockabilly styles and can be a ton of fun.

In case you’re staying in a hotel and are truly paranoid about waking anyone, it has a headphone out jack, so you can keep your picking and grinning all to yourself.

Don’t expect a big sound from this little guy, but he does deliver some excellent tone.

The MSRP is $59, but Amazon both sells the Danelectro Hodad DH-1 for less than $50. Here’s a demo of the Danelectro Hodad DH-1 in action:

Danelectro Hodad II DH-2

Up next is the Danelectro Hodad II DH-2, or the “mini-me” to the Hodad DH-1.

This little guy (and I do mean LITTLE) is more of a micro amp than a mini amp. Think alarm clock instead of lunchbox.

At 5 3/4″ x 3″ x 5 1/4″ and about 1lbs, this amp definitely fits the portability criteria. It’s also battery powered, running on – you guessed it – one 9v battery, but you can buy the Danelectro DA-1 9-Volt Power Adaptor (sold separately) to get a power boost.

Danelectro-Hodad-II-DH-2

Despite its tiny size, the Hodad II DH-2 packs a bigger punch than you might think. It features twin ceramic 2″ round 4 Ohm speakers, and cranks a full watt when powered by battery. The power adapter brings this up to 1.5 w.

The Hodad II DH-2 sports a cool modern-vintage style coming in aqua-cream two tone color scheme.

In keeping with its micro design, the control set is minimal: Tone (EQ control), Gain, and Off-On / Volume. There’s also a headphone out jack, which can be used as a line-out to a recording device.

It may not seem like much, but for less than $30 it really is a good buy. And you don’t get much more portable!

 

Danelectro Honeytone N-10

The Danelectro Honeytone N-10 is the last Danelectro offering in this mini amp roundup. The Honeytone N-10 is plugged as the “little hot rod” of portable, battery powered amps and sports a retro style and vintage tone.

This amp measures 5.6″ x 5.8″ x 3″ and weighs in at 1 lbs. This is the only amp in this list with a belt clip – how’s that for portable?!

It comes in 3 variations:

Danelectro N-10 Honey Tone Mini Amp in Aqua $19.95 from Amazon

Danelectro N-10 Honey Tone Mini Amp in Burgundy $23.44 at Amazon

Danelectro N-10 Honey Tone Mini Amp in Black $19.95 at Amazon

Guitar Center also has the Danelectro Honeytone N-10 available in yellow and Danelectro Honeytone N-10 Guitar Mini Amp Burgundy.

Danelectro Honeytone N-10 also comes with a genuine leather handle and headphone jack. The controls are simple and straight forward: Volume, Tone, and Overdrive.

The Honeytone N-10 is a 1w amp and has a single 3 inch, 8 Ohm speaker, but you can get some very nice tones.

It does chew through batteries fairly quickly though, so you’d probably want to buy the Danelectro DA-1 AC adapter, and save the battery for when there’s no power option.

On a side note, if you’re into the DIY thing and modifying your amps, you should check out the Danelectro Honeytone Repair & Modifications page. It’s very extensive.

Here’s a demo:

Vox AC1 RhythmVOX

The Vox AC1 is easily the most expensive amp on this list. It lists for $85, but usually sells for closer to $50. As I write this, Amazon has a deal for the Vox AC1RV 1-Watt 2×3 Guitar Combo Amplifier for $44.99. Guitar Center also carries the Vox Ac1 Rhythmvox

But enough about price, here’s why it’s more than the other portable, battery powered amps on this list…

The AC1 RhythmVOX features gain, tone and volume controls, twin 3″ speakers, is battery powered with optional power cord.

There’s an overdrive switch to toggle between high gain sound, or clean.

What really makes the AC1 RhythmVOX stand out from the portable amp pack is its rhythm section. The AC1 RhythmVOX comes with 66 different rhythm patterns to play along with.

The AC1 is a great stand alone practice amp, and rhythm box.

Here’s how the rhythm feature breaks down:

10 rhythm patterns – 8 beat, 16 beat, blues, funk reggae and more complex beats with multi-measure drum backing -66 patterns in total.

Each rhythm pattern has serious sound quality and presence, providing realistic drum backing.

Tempo and volume of each pattern is easily controllable.

The rhythm patterns are a great way to keep your playing in time, and also helpful for developing your own licks and riffs. The tempo ranges from 40bpm all the way up to 240bpm.

There is also a Aux-in jack for plugging in a CD or MP3 player, a headphone jack and a dedicated E-string tuner.

This is also the only battery powered amp on the list that runs on 6 AA batteries instead of a single 9v. I’m not sure if that’s more convenient or not, but you can always get the AC adapter and skip the batteries.

The dimensions are 7″ x 2 1/2″ x 5″ and it weighs about 1 lb.

Here’s a demo:

Final thoughts on portable battery powered amps

It’s important to check your expectations here. Most of the amps in this list only have a 2-3 inch speaker, and about a watt of power. They’re small and there isn’t a lot of headroom, so cranking the overdrive and the volume to 10 with quickly produce some crappy sound.

These aren’t going to compete with a 10 or 15 watt 1×10″ amp. I can’t believe I have to say that, but a lot of people miss that point and quickly complain that the amp sounds “tinny” or breaks up badly, but those are the people who crank everything to 11.

Just find that sweet spot in the middle and you’ll do alright.

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Fender Mustang 1 vs 2, a Comparison.

Fender Mustang 1 vs. 2. It’s a question many guitar players may ask themselves when they’re looking for a new modeling amp. Digital modeling amps dominate the market for guitar amps under $200. Some of the best sellers in this price range are the Fender Mustang series of amps, specifically the Fender Mustang 1 and 2.

Both have the exceptional cleans that Fender amps are renowned for, and both are loaded with a ton of features, effects and amplifier models to play with.

In fact, the Mustang 1 and Mustang 2 are really very similar. Here’s a comparison between the two models to help decide which one fits you best.

Fender Mustang 1 vs Mustang 2 comparison

Fender Mustang 1 vs 2: physical dimension/construction.

The Fender Mustang 1 fits the standard practice amp mold with 20w and 1-8” speaker. It’s measures at 7.6″ x 15.5″ x 14.5″ and weighs 17 lbs. It’s big enough for decent volume, yet small enough to be portable.

The Mustang 2 is the big brother by comparison. It features 40w and 1-12” speaker, measures 8.7″ x 18.25″ x 17.25″ and weighs 24 lbs. The Mustang 2 is still pretty easy to get from point A to point B, but has a bit more rounded sound and larger headroom.

Both the Mustang 1 and 2 sport the Fender Carbon Tweed Textured Vinyl with Silver Grille Cloth cover.

Fender Mustang 1 vs 2: features.

This comparison is really easy – both the Mustang 1 and Mustang 2 have identical feature sets.

Both the Mustang 1 and Mustang 2 have the following features:

  • One standard guitar input
  • One foot switch input
  • 1/8” Stereo Input Jack
  • Speaker Emulated USB Output;
  • 1/8” Headphone Jack Doubles as Speaker Emulated Line Out
  • One Channel with 24 Presets
  • Amp modeling
  • Distortion
  • Chromatic tuner
  • Additional effects including fuzz, pitch shifter and touch wah, with even more available through Fender FUSE.

Both the Mustang 1 and Mustang 2 come with the following software:

  • Fender® FUSE™
  • Ableton® Live Lite 8 Fender Edition studio-quality recording software compatible with Mustang USB recording output
  • AmpliTube® Fender LE software with free Fender® FUSE™ editor/librarian software for Mac and PC.

Fender Mustang 1 vs 2: controls.

Besides the basic gain, volume, treble and bass controls, both amp models feature include knobs for amp model selection, modulation selection, and delay/reverb selection. There’s also a tap temp button for various delay settings and buttons for saving your on-board edits.

Fender Mustang 1 vs 2: effects.

The Fender Mustang 1 and Fender Mustang 2 provide a total of 24 effects available in 2 categories:

  1. The 12 modulation effects include chorus and deep chorus,flanger, 3 kinds of tremolo , vibratone (fast and slow),octaver, phaser and step filter.
  2. The 12 delay and reverb effects include 3 tape delays (150ms/1 repeat, 300ms/3 repeats, 700ms/4 repeats), 5 kinds of reverb (small room, plate, large hall, ’63 and ’65 spring), tape delay room, tape delay large hall, ducking delay small hall, and echo filter.

Fender Mustang 1 vs 2: modeling

Both the Mustang I and Mustang II are modeling amps, which let you choose between 8 different amplifier presets out of the box, and four additional models with the Fender FUSE software.

The amp models available include Metal 2000,Super Sonic™,American 90’s,British 80’s (A.K.A.: Marshall),British 60’s (A.K.A.: Vox),’65 Twin Reverb®,’59 Bassman®, and the ’57 Deluxe™.

Fender Mustang 1 vs 2: price

Mustang 1 MSRP: $159

Fender Mustang 2

The Fender Mustang

As I write this, Guitar Center has the Fender Mustang I 20W 1X8 Guitar Combo Amp Black for $95, and Amazon is selling them for $109 (with extended warranty).

Mustang 2 MSRP: $269.99

Note: While the Mustang 2 has an MSRP over $200, it is easy to find for under (very close to) $200.
At the time of this review, Guitar Center was selling a Fender Mustang II 40W 1X12 Guitar Combo Amp Black for $199 and Amazon carried it for $199 also.

Who’s better, who’s best?

Which amp is best or better is a matter of personal taste and use, but here are some things to consider when choosing between the two.

The Mustang II is bigger.

Since the Fender Mustang II is a bit larger than the Mustang I, it would be a bit bulkier to transport. It’s also a bit louder than the Mustang 1. Because of this, the Mustang 2 may not make as good a choice for solo practice amp, especially if you play in a small room or apartment.

Volume for home practice and live gigs.

With minimal tweaking and the use of the FUSE software, both these amps can kick some serious ass. Volume is not a problem unless you’re looking to do some serious gigs. If that’s the case, then you may want to look at the Fender Mustang III or IV. The Mustang II is loud enough for small gigs, and you might be able to get away with mic’ing up the Mustang I.
The Mustang 2 has a larger speaker and more power, which gives it a rounder, more balanced sound but it may be overkill in small settings.

Solo practice or band practice?

If you’re going to be playing in a band and are looking for a good practice amp that won’t break your back or your budget in the process, the Fender Mustang 2 is a solid choice. However, if you’re looking for a versatile and affordable amp for solo practice, the Mustang 1 is a most excellent choice.

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Comparison: Fender Mustang 1 vs Peavey Vypyr 15.

Fender Mustang 1 vs. Peavey Vypyr 15 – which is the better modeling amp? They are so similar that it may be difficult to choose.

If you’re looking for a new modeling amp and have a budget of $100 you’ve probably asked yourself this question. It’s easy to see why – two of the best selling modeling practice amps at this price point are the Fender Mustang I and the Peavey Vypyr 15. As I write this, each retails for $99 new, and has loads of features. In fact at first glance, they are so similar that it may be difficult to choose one over the other.

Here’s a guide to help highlight the specific strengths and weaknesses of each and help you decide which is best for you.

Features Overview

fender-mustang-i-practice-amp

The Mustang I has 24 total amp presets. They consist of 8 different amp models, each with 3 different effects and mod settings. Each of these presets allows for custom effects and reverb/delay settings as well as EQ volume and gain control.

The Vypyr 15 also provides 24 total presets, modeling 12 popular amps in both clean and distorted channels. There’s also 11 editable post amp rack effects with parameter control.

Both support headphone out, and MP3/CD/Aux input. Both also feature a single 8″ speaker, a tap tempo switch, and peavey-vypyr-15 practice ampUSB port for high speed recording.

The Peavey Vypyr 15 features Peavey’s patented TransTube technology which provides “true analog distortion”. This is meant to simulate tube sound and response in a solid state amp.

The Mustang I features Fender FUSE software that allows for tweaking the living hell out of the amp and the Mustang’s modeling of a vintage tube amp is very close to 100% accurate.

Now with the basics out of the way, let’s dig into the details.

 

Control Panel and Interface

The Mustang I has 5 knobs:

  • Gain
  • Treble
  • Bass
  • Volume (of the amp being modeled)
  • Master Volume
  • Amp Preset Selector
  • Effects
  • Reverb/delay

Even though there is no knob for Middle EQ, the Mustang I is so customizable that you will rarely miss it.

While the Mustang I does not have a separate channel for clean and dirty, you can use any of the presets to store a clean preset and another to store a dirty preset.

The Vypyr 15 has 9 knobs:

  • Stompboxes
  • Amp Preset Selector
  • Effects
  • Pre-Gain
  • Low EQ
  • Mid EQ
  • High EQ
  • Post Gain
  • Master Volume

The Peavey Vypyr 15 is a bit more customizable through the front knobs, but the Fender Mustang I provides much greater customization through it’s software package. More on that later.

Fender Mustang 1 vs Peavey Vypyr 15 – Which is a better 1st amp?

Neither the Fender Mustang I or the Peavey Vypyr 15 really makes a good choice for your first amp if you’re just starting out learning the guitar. This has more to do with modeling amps in general, than either of these specific amps.

If you’re looking for the best amp for beginning guitar players, look at straight, traditional amps and skip the modeling. You can always get an effects pedal to add on later, once you’ve become a better player.

If, however, you already know how to play acoustic guitar and are looking for a great 1st amp to branch out into electric guitar playing or you’re looking to get into a more sound variation with a modeling amp, then the Mustang I is the best choice in my opinion. It’s also a great choice for a practice amp or if you’re looking for an amp to play while song writing.

However, if you’re only interest is Metal or you wouldn’t use the Fender FUSE software and you’re looking for a rock solid modeling amp for Metal that will suit your needs out of the box with no additional effort beyond the occasional turn of a knob, then stop reading right now – the Peavey Vypyr 15 is for you.

Vypyr vs Mustang (general)

Some Peavey Vypyr 15 owners have complained about a lack of “clean distortion” and muddy clean tones. This sort of criticism is limited with the Fender Mustang because you can overcome almost any such problem with the FUSE software.

In my opinion, the Mustang I has better tones – overdrive and clean – and playing dynamics than the Peavey Vypyr 15, which makes the Mustang a much more flexible amp. And that’s before you factor in the FUSE software!

I believe that Fender has raised the bar on modeling amps, while maintaining their fabled Fender cleans. The Vypyr 15, however, missed the mark on delivering a good clean tone.

Still, many Vypyr owners swear by them, but most tend to be heavily into metal. The Peavey Vypyr 15 is a great amp for playing metal or hard rock but if you even think you want to play other styles, then the Mustang I is the better choice.

Fender FUSE

What really puts the Mustang ahead of the Vypyr is the software package that it comes with. The Mustang comes with Ableton Live and IK Amplitude, but what truly makes it rock your way is FUSE. FUSE is where the Mustang series amps leave the competition in the dust.

What you can’t edit and tweak with the top panel control knobs on the amp itself, you can edit to your liking with the FUSE software package, then save it straight to a preset on the amp.

Along with the ability to fully customize your amp’s sound, FUSE also enables you to download presets from the fender site and owner’s forum. There are hundreds of community created and supported presets for a variety of popular bands and musical styles.

FUSE gives you – the owner – full control over how your amp sounds, but it also keeps it fresh: Stuck in a rut? Feel like you just keep playing in the same style? Just download a preset that’s out of your comfort range and experiment with something new. Don’t like it? No worries, just overwrite it with another one, or go back to the factory presets. It’s this ability that makes the Fender Mustang the amp that keeps on giving.

FUSE opens up a world of possibilities and puts you in control of virtually every aspect of the amp.

Fender Mustang 1 vs Peavey Vypyr 15 – Conclusion

Some have said the Peavey Vypyr 15 is a waste of money and you shouldn’t look at anything less than the Vypyr 30. The Vypyr 30 though is about twice the price of the Vypyr 15, so in my opinion if that’s even an option than you should really be comparing the Vypyr 30 and Mustang II amps.

Personally, I think if you need to spend an extra $100 to get “anything resembling good tone”, then you’re probably looking at the wrong product. I say this because the Fender Mustang I truly does deliver good tone at the same price point as the Vypyr 15.

Others have been critical of the speaker choice for the Vypyr 15, saying that 8 inches is too small. This of course depends on what you plan on using the amp for. I’d say it’s definitely too small for performing a gig, but it’s plenty big for practicing at home or in an apartment. The Mustang I has the same speaker size, but few owners complain about it’s volume. I suspect this is because Vypyr 15 owners tend to be looking for a louder sound, while Mustang I owners are looking for better tone and more versatility.

The Peavey Vypyr 15 is a solid amp for metal and hard rock right out of the box, but the cleans are not as good as the Fender’s Mustang I and it lacks the versatility of the Mustang. If you have no desire to play blues, jazz or classic rock then the Vypyr 15 is a good choice. If you’re looking for maximum versatility and excellent tone, then the Fender Mustang I is the choice for you.

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Why the Fender Mustang I is the Best Practice Modeling Amp for Under $100.

Looking for the best practice amp for under $100 can be a confusing experience. Guitar Center alone carries over 100 such amps for less than $100. It’s easy to see why choosing which guitar amplifier is the best for your money can be difficult.

I realize $100 may not seem like a lot to some people, and in the world of guitar amplifiers it really isn’t that much. But for the aspiring guitarist just starting out or the hobbyist, 100 bucks can be a good chunk of change.

Many practice amps in the under $100 range are frankly not worth the money. The Fender Mustang I is the exception. In fact, I think it is hands down the best modeling amp for under $100. Here’s why.

Basic features

The Mustang I practice amp is a 20w combo modeling amp with a 1 x 8″ speaker configuration. It’s plenty loud for a practice amp, but sounds sweet with the volume down low too. It also has a headphone jack, so you won’t wake the neighbors / wife / kids etc…

Features include:

  • Line in (for CD or mp3 player)
  • Input for foot switch
  • Headphone/line out
  • USB connection port

Controls for:

  • Gain
  • Volume
  • Treble
  • Bass
  • Master
  • Preset Select
  • Modulation Select
  • Delay/Reverb Select
  • Save Button
  • Tap Tempo Button

Modeling amps are all about effects and modeling different amp configurations, so it’s not surprising that one of the major aspects that differentiate one amp from another is what presets are available on the amp.

The Mustang I amp features a total of 24 different presets, in 3 colored groups – green, amber and red. Each group has 8 presets, labeled A, B, C, D, E, F, G, #. The factory presets follow a steady progression from vintage ’57 Tweed Deluxe to increasingly heavier sounds up to more modern, metal based amps (think Mesa Boogie and Diesel).

The range of these stock presets is enough to provide hours of enjoyment, playing in a range of styles from early Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly to Hendrix and Deep Purple to Ozzy and Metallica. It also does a good job of jazz and blues, and you can always dial back the effects to get those renowned Fender cleans.

Not satisfied with the preset? Think the sound is close, but not quite right?

No problem. The Mustang features knobs to control the Gain, Treble, Bass, Volume (of the amp being modeled), Master Volume, Effects, and Reverb/delay.

Still not totally happy with the mix?

No problem. The Fender FUSE software opens the door to complete customization of sound.

Fender FUSE

Perhaps the one feature more than any other that sets the Mustang I above other modeling amps is the Fender FUSE software.

FUSE allows you to edit and tweak all the settings of an amp that are available through the top panel knobs and dozens more that aren’t. FUSE lets you to add and configure effects modeling (stompbox and rack mount) to the base amp preset. It enables you to tweak the EQ settings and effects settings and save them to the amp using one of the colored presets. It even lets you choose and configure different cabinets to model.

You can hear the changes you make in FUSE immediately on your amp, so you can fine tune all the various aspects to get the sound right with your guitar. Once you like what you hear, you just select a preset to save it to and you’re free to rock out without your computer.

FUSE doesn’t stop there though. There’s a whole FUSE community on the Fender forums where owners share their favorite presets for others to download and try. There is a multitude of different presets available for modeling various styles, bands and amp brands.

From Jazz to Blues to Rock to Metal, capturing the sound of AC/DC, Zeppelin, Clapton, ZZ Top, GNR, Metallica, Hendrix or .. frankly whatever guitarist you want is a snap with FUSE.

Once you’ve downloaded your favorite preset or built your sound rig from scratch, you save it to one of the 24 amp preset slots. After that, switching from Angus Young’s acidic rock tones to Clapton’s vintage blues is as easy as turning the knob.

Although the Mustang’s modeling of a vintage tube amp may not be 100% accurate in all cases, it’s close enough so that most people will be hard pressed to tell the difference. And those who can will likely not being playing a solid state, modeling amp to begin with. 😉

FUSE let’s you backup your current amp presets at anytime so you are free to customize and tweak, secure in the knowledge of that backup safety net. Totally hosed your preset? Can’t stand the settings on your amp anymore? no problem, just restore the backup and that ugly episode never happened.

FUSE gives the Mustang owner the keys to the kingdom in terms of controlling their amp. It gives you full control of the modeling and sound, and it keeps things fresh and exciting. That’s also what makes this a great amp for the hobbyist. If you find yourself stuck in a certain style of play, just fire up FUSE and give your amp a makeover, or download a new community preset. It’s amazing what a change in sound will do to your playing style.

It is because of FUSE that I believe the Fender Mustang series of amps is perhaps the most versatile modeling amp on the market today.

Effects

The Mustang controls let you choose from a variety of different effects using the 2 knobs on the top: Mod and Delay/Reverb.

That’s the basic way to flavor your sound with a touch of effect, but the FUSE software really blows the doors open on adding effects.

Here’s how the virtual effects work on FUSE:

You can chain up to 4 different effect types together to sculpt the sound you want.

The 4 effect types are:

  • Stomp
  • Mod
  • Delay
  • Reverb

So, you can create an amp preset with 1 stomp, 1 mod, 1 delay and 1 reverb effect all linked together. Furthermore, each effect setting is fully configurable – just like a real effects pedal, or rack effect.

Here’s a further breakdown of the effects:

  • Stomp effects.
  • Overdrive
  • Fixed Wah
  • Touch Wah
  • Fuzz
  • Fuzz Touch Wah
  • Compressor
  • Simple Compressor

Mod effects.

  • Sine Chorus
  • Triangle Chorus
  • Sine Flanger
  • Triangle Flanger
  • Vibratone
  • Vintage Tremolo
  • Sine Tremolo
  • Ring Modulator
  • Step Filter
  • Phaser
  • Pitch Shifter

Delay effects.

  • Mono Delay
  • Mono Echo Filter
  • Stereo Echo Filter
  • Multitap Delay
  • Ping Pong Delay
  • Ducking Delay
  • Reverse Delay
  • Tape Delay
  • Stereo Tape Delay

Reverb effects.

  • Small Hall
  • Large Hall
  • Small Room
  • Large Room
  • Small Plate
  • Large Plate
  • Ambient
  • Arena
  • Fender ’63 Spring Reverb
  • Fender ’65 Spring Reverb

To be honest, adding the virtual effects to the amp modeling via FUSE is not as flexible as a standard stompbox because that effect is then on the preset always, whereas if you use a pedal effect you can easily toggle it on and off. But the Fender Mustang, as with many modeling amps, isn’t meant to replace pedal effects completely. Besides, you can always create a stripped down amp model and attach your stompbox as you would with a non-modeling amp.

I think most people will agree though that the multitude of effects available on this amp is quite generous for the $99 price.

Software

The Mustang also comes with Ableton Live and IK Amplitude software programs. These are studio software for recording, mixing and arranging music. You can add drums or stings to the background of your recording. You can even alter the tone of your guitar sound – yet again – with Amplitube.

Demo

Check out this most excellent demo of the Fender Mustang I:

Summary

If you’re just starting out learning to play guitar, you probably want to skip modeling amps entirely, and get a very good, very basic guitar amplifier.

But once you’ve mastered the basics and you’re looking to take your playing to the next level, take a look at the Mustang I. The possibilities open to the guitarist with this package are astounding, and all for just $99!

 

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