Fender Mustang lll™ V1 Review
What do you get?Amplifier:
100W, 1x 12" Celestion™ G12T-100 Speaker, 8 Ohms, 1 channel with 100 presets.
Controls: gain, volume, treble, middle, bass, reverb, master, data wheel, soft keys for amp select, stomp edit, modulation edit, delay edit, reverb edit, utility, save, exit, and tap/tuner.
12 amp models* (with editable cabinet emulations as well as all amplifier parameters): '57 Deluxe™, '59 Bassman®, '57 Champ®, '65 Deluxe Reverb®, '65 Princeton®, '65 Twin Reverb®, Super-Sonic™, British '60s, British '70s, British '80s, American '90s, Metal 2000.
7 stomp effects*: Overdrive, Fixed Wah, Touch Wah, Fuzz, Fuzz Touch Wah, Compressor, Simple Compressor.
11 modulation effects*: Sine Chorus, Triangle Chorus, Sine Flanger, Triangle Flanger, Vibratone, Vintage Tremolo, Sine Tremolo, Ring Modulator, Step Filter, Phaser, Pitch Shifter.
9 delay effects*: Mono Delay, Mono Echo Filter, Stereo Echo Filter, Multitap Delay, Ping Pong Delay, Ducking Delay, Reverse Delay, Tape Delay, Stereo Tape Delay.
10 reverb effects*: Small Hall, Large Hall, Small Room, Large Room, Small Plate, Large Plate, Ambient, Arena, Fender '63 Spring Reverb, Fender '65 Spring Reverb.
*All of the above are fully editable
Effects loop, 2-button footswitch.
Illuminated LCD on top panel *please note that the 'basic clean' preset at 00 in the picture above is one I created - just a '65 Twin straight through.
Aux input, headphone output (mini-jack, jack doubles as speaker emulated line out), speaker emulated USB out.
Dimensions: 45.1 x 52.1 x 27.3cm
(H x W x D).
Ableton® Live Lite 8 Fender® Edition studio-quality recording software compatible with Mustang USB recording output; AmpliTube® Fender® LE edition with free Fender® FUSEeditor/librarian software for Mac and PCDoes it work?
Hell yes. Frankly amazing value and so capable. Loud as you like with an SPL: C (music) weighting, flat out before distortion, at 1 metre - 126db + (that's as loud as my meter will measure). Maxing out probably around 130db. I wore ear defenders to conduct the test. This is one loud amplifier, which would explain why I have never turned the master volume up above 3 in my practice room.
The tuner is fast and accurate.
Editing parameters is easy and easier still with the Fender Fuse™ software installed on your PC.
Being a Fender there is naturally a tendency to a bright default sound; some may not like this, but I regard it as a basic underpinning; the foundation on which the other sounds are built which needs to be as pure as possible. The open backed cabinet contributes to this clarity and does result in there not being a thunderous bottom end, but there is enough grunt there for the heavier models.
There are some dubious choices amongst the factory presets (every manufacturer is guilty of this in my experience) and they are arranged in what seems an illogical way, with screaming metal presets adjacent to clean and gentle sounds. Not much of a problem as they can all be easily moved around to suit. I have seen comments on various YouTube demos to the effect that the heavier distorted sounds are all very similar; this is, however, not the case. Used with both a Squier Affinity HSS Strat
, Antoria ES335, and a Harley Benton 450L Vintage (Les Paul copy) the sounds are all distinctly different. That said, I feel that someone into more extreme metal sounds might struggle a bit to find the sounds they are after.
I only have the included 2 button footswitch – the optional 4 button footswitch has programmable functions, puts the tuner on the floor in front of you, can be used together with the 2 button footswitch and is not very expensive – a must buy that is on my 'saving up' list.
The quality of the modelling is superb in the case of the Fender models, and not at all bad for the others. I would have liked to have a Mesa Boogie™ model in there – this is my preferred heavier sound which fortunately my Zoom G3X™ has available. In all cases the sensitivity of the modelling to how you play the guitar is outstanding.Now, to the software:
I will have to be brief here, as I have not used the Ableton Lite™ installation at all, but I have no reason to suppose it won't do what it says on the tin. I am, therefore, unable to comment on the USB output modelling.
The Fender Fuse™ site is not the best or fastest in the world, but there is a community who share modified presets for you to play with, and the local Fuse™ software enables you to edit the amplifier parameters from your computer including parameters that are not accessible from the controls on the amplifier. It's quite fun to watch the graphical interface dials move in sync with the controls on the top panel. Childish maybe, I can be easily amused Good points:
See above, just about everything really.Bad points:
The 'manual' provided is just a quick start guide and not very helpful, you have to go to the Fender Fuse™ site to download the full manual.
There is no balanced DI output, just the use of the mini headphone socket. However, there is the USB output also with speaker emulation which I would use in preference anyway.
The auxiliary input is -13db. When you add to that the EU's regulation nobbling of the output volume on MP3 players you have a very quiet backing track. I actually use the aux input on my practice bass amp if I want to play along with anything on the MP3 player, it's much louder.
There are no protective corners, so if you plan to gig it you would need to add some or be ever so careful lugging it about.Summary:
I can't praise this amplifier highly enough. It is incredibly versatile, capable of incredible volume, doesn't weigh much and is small enough to be extremely portable. It is probably more ideally matched to a Fender™ group manufactured guitar than other brands; that said I use it with two twin humbucker guitars as well as the Squier Affinity HSS Stratocaster
At this price it scores 11/10 for value for money. But if you are death metal fan, you might want to look elsewhere for your ideal modelling amplifier.
NB - V2 version of the Mustang 3
has 18 amp models, and an expanded stomp box section with more overdrive models including Big Fuzz, Green Screamer and Intelligent Pitch Shifting. And no, I can't afford to upgrade. Dang.
There are still some examples of the V1 Mustang lll in the shops at a slightly lower price than the newer V2, the latter being more capable (according to the specifications) of producing more convincing heavier and distorted sounds. Depending upon your preferences it may or may not be worth spending the extra for these features.