In 2007, TIME magazine’s person of the year was “YOU”. The cover featured a mirrored metallic surface rather than a portrait of an important cultural figure so that when you looked at it, you saw yourself. TIME’s point with this was that the interactive nature of modern technology had turned the average citizen into a producer of cultural content. No longer was the “Mass Audience” this passive group of similar people who simply consumed the products that culture industries produced and broadcast to us but with computers, the internet, and user friendly software we were now the producers and distributors of content that we shared with others. YouTube is the exemplar of this ideal. We can record and edit video on our smartphones and with one or two clicks we have become a producer.
Guitarists record themselves and put it out for others to watch. Technology like the iRig Pro audio interface (which I reviewed recently) and user intuitive software like Logic or Sonar allows the average band to cost effectively record their original tune and SoundCloud provides a platform for its distribution to the connected world. Our world is always changing and increasing connectivity and interaction is at the core of this shift. Perhaps nothing highlights this like the Fender Mustang 1 V.2 modelling guitar amplifier.
The Fender Mustang 1 V.2 is more than just a 20 watt practice amp with an 8” speaker and a load of tones and flexibility, it is also a guitarist’s entrance into the online world of social connectivity. Now, we’ll get to that in a bit but first and foremost, it is an amplifier so let us deal with that first.
On more than one occasion I have heard the Mustang 1 referred to as a “Fender tone machine” and I’d be hard pressed to dispute that. This model features 5 new amp models including the ’57 Twin and ‘60s Thrift which brings the total number of modeled amplifiers to 17. The amps modeled run the gamut from classic Fender amps to ‘80s British amps and ‘90s American amps. The Fender amps on display here are, unsurprisingly, very good. However, I personally found some of the more “metal” presets to be a bit digital sounding and lacking some real depth. After spending some time tweaking the settings, I was able to get them more to my liking. Remember, tone is an incredibly personal taste and your tastes and subsequent opinions may be different than mine.
Fender has also added 5 new effects to its ever-growing list, which includes distortion and overdrive, reverb, delay, chorus and echo and adds fuzz and Pitch Shifting to bring the effects total to 44. This puts great flexibility in your hands to create a sound for virtually any musical instance you could imagine. The Fender Mustang 1 V.2 also allows you to save up to 24 presets. This is in addition to the 12 onboard factory presets. This should be more than you will ever need as most will find after spending more time with their amp that they tend to keep going back to the same couple of presets that fit their genre’s requirements. A metal guitarist will spend little time with the surf tones and a jazz guitarist likely won’t venture too often into the extreme gain of Death Metal. But every once in a while it sure is fun to venture outside your comfort zone and explore new possibilities.
The amp itself is light, weighing only 17pounds, but feels really solid and well built. As its primary use is as a practice amp and won’t be getting hauled around too often there shouldn’t be any issues with it standing up to regular use. It has that classic Fender look with the cloth grille and black textured vinyl covering. The controls are on the top of the amp and see dials for Gain, Volume, Treble, Bass, and Master. The Preset Select has presets that you can dial through and some effects are under master headings called Modulation Select and Delay/Reverb Select. There are buttons for you to save your own creations, an exit button, a tap tempo button that will also access the built in tuner, a headphone jack, a jack for connecting an audio player, a ¼” jack to plug in your guitar, a jack for the optional footswitch, the power control and a USB jack to connect your Fender Mustang 1 V.2 to your computer. And this is where things get really interesting.
Included with your amp purchase is access to various software. The primary software is the Fender Fuse program that you download and install on your Mac or PC. Fuse does many different things but is at its core a platform for social connectivity to the online Fender Community. Once you sign up you are able to download extra presets, override the current presets in your amp if you so desire, create and tweak yours or others’ collective presets, and you also have the ability to upload and share your own concoctions. You can access software updates as well as firmware updates for your amp, get tech support, download band tracks, enter into various discussion forums to ask and/or answer questions or even just to chat. In this sense, the Fender Mustang 1 V.2 is a perfect guitar amplifier for a new guitarist as it gives them easy anytime access to answers and tips.
Fuse also features tutorials, videos, and any other help you might be looking for. Essentially, Fuse is your portal into a much larger universe of Fender guitar playing where you can get more effects for your amp, more control over your effects, more overall flexibility, and all that the social component offers.
In addition to Fuse, you get Ableton Live Lite 8 Fender Edition recording software that will allow you to lay down all of your sick riffs for a digital eternity. By connecting your amp to your Mac or PC via the included USB cable and using the included software, you are on your way to being the next Eddie Van Halen and Rick Rubin, all in one.
I have included a video that looks at the amp and software in more detail. I go through all of the presets so we can get an idea how they sound. I also go over the software and show you how crucial it is to the overall experience of the Fender Mustang 1 V.2.
I can’t stress enough how especially good this amp is for someone just getting into guitar. I still remember when I started playing and got my first cheap electric and a horrible small practice amp. I couldn’t get anywhere near the sound I had in my head and kept having to beg, borrow, or buy stomp boxes as I literally spent years and years hunting for that sound. It was frustrating and I’m sure that more than 1 player just walked away due to that frustration. Now, the day you get home with a new axe and an amp you have the ability to make your guitar sound like anyone from the entire spectrum of music, all with the twist of a dial or the click of a mouse. If only I’d had that option when I started.