Fender Mustang Micro hangs 12 amps and 13 effects pedals off your guitar
This extraordinary hundred-buck headphone amp plugs straight into your electric guitar, giving you access to a dozen beautifully-made amp emulators and a swag of quality effects in about the most portable package we can imagine.
Fender is far from the first to make one of these plug amps – Vox in particular has been making its popular Amplug range for some time – but where Vox has chosen to make a series of devices dedicated to specific styles of music, the Mustang Micro packs in a wide range of amp emulators and effects to offer a super-versatile practice and recording gadget.
The amp emulators are a selection taken from Fender's Mustang GTX series, covering a range of clean and dirty tones. Popular 50s and 60s Fender tube amps are replicated, and other emulators are "inspired by" Marshalls, Mesas, Friedmans, Bogners and Eddie Van Halen signature amps. Effects include modulation, overdrive, compression, delays, EQs, chorus, flangers and reverbs, each with editable parameters.
Where the Vox units run on AAA batteries, Fender has built in a lithium battery, good for four hours and chargeable through a USB-C connection that can also be used as a recording interface through to a computer. The Mustang Mini also has Bluetooth connectivity, although that doesn't mean you can use it with Bluetooth headphones. Instead, it's more about streaming music or practice videos to the device so you can play along with them.
Importantly, it also seems to sound terrific. Fender hasn't supplied its own video yet, but early online reviews are very impressive. And it's easy to see where things go from here, too: clearly as time goes on, these devices will pack in more and more software and sound processing power, they'll eventually connect to your phone or Bluetooth pedals for fine parameter control and the ability to save and recall presets.
I can't imagine a beginner that wouldn't absolutely love having one of these things around, letting you do the hard yards in private before you rock people's pants off with a proper amp. At US$100, it's well within reach of most guitarists or their parents, too. The Mustang Micro will start hitting shelves in April this year.