Need something smaller than a micro practice amp? Don’t have the luxury of using a traditional speaker amp to practice? Neighbors prone to moaning at the slightest bit of noise? In this Fender Mustang Micro review we’ll discuss the new for 2021 headphone amp by Fender.
We’ll explore it’s features, talk about it’s pros and cons versus a traditional amp and discuss it’s practicality. Let’s get started.
Overview of Fender Mustang Micro
The Fender Mustang Micro is designed to allow you to practice virtually anywhere. Roughly the size of a wireless receiver, it’ll plug into most guitars thanks to it’s input jack, which rotates 270 degrees to accommodate your guitar’s input jack position.
The unit is tiny, weighing just 1.8oz / 51g and is super compact. The volume wheel on the front may make it look a little ugly at first, but it’s actually really practical making it really easy to adjust the volume quickly whilst playing.
The headphone jack is 1/8″ input, so will be compatible with most headphone sets. The unit outputs in stereo for good quality audio. The micro is charged by an included USB cable, which can also output to a recording device. A lithium ion battery will provide between 4 and 6 hours of play time dependent on the volume level.
The Micro has 12 in-built amp models, ranging from clean to high gain and direct for acoustic instruments. The amp models are all based on the Fender GTX series amps. There’s a good mix of styles here, all output via a 30 watt simulated cabinet. The Micro has a nice plus and minus button system to move you forwards and backwards through the amp models. A corresponding LED color will indicate which model is currently selected.
- White LED – ’65 twin & Compressor – Modeled on the 1965 Fender Twin Reverb. Ultra clean and great for funk. The compressor gives the tone body
- Red LED – ’65 Deluxe – Mid 60’s tone with a little more overdrive. Clean but breaks up when played harder. Great for blues
- Green LED – ’57 Twin – modeled on the 1957 2×12″ Fender Tweed. Clean to dirty tones – good for blues, jazz and rock
- Blue LED – 60’s British – modeled on the VOX AC30. Favored by bands like the Beatles
- Yellow LED – ’65 Deluxe plus Greenbox OD – ’65 deluxe with the addition of tube overdrive. Late 60’s classic rock sound
- Magenta LED – 70’s British. Models a Marshall with powerful classic rock tones
- Turquoise LED – 90’s American. Modeled on the Mesa Duel Rectifier. More distorted crunch
- Orange LED – Modeled on the Fender Bass Breaker. Quite thin high gain tone preserving a hint of crunch
- Raspberry LED – Modeled on the Friedman BE-100. 80’s metal sound, more balanced high gain
- Spring Green – Metal 2000. Very high gain modeled on the EVH-5150. High gain but with some mid mixed in
- Violet – Uber. Great for very high gain styles. Good for metal
- Cyan LED – Studio Preamp. Good for acoustic and direct to mixing desks for pure signal
That’s a lot of variety for such a tiny unit!
The Micro also features 12 in-built effects. These are really good for beginners because they’re essentially plug and play. You don’t have a great deal of control over their parameters, and they tend to be “bundled” effects. For example delay and reverb together. Again, you can cycle between effect types using the plus and minus buttons and the selected effect is denoted by the color of the LED. Here’s what’s included:
- White LED – Large hall reverb. Subtle but effective
- Red LED – ’65 spring reverb. Similar to above, but a little more subtle
- Green LED – Modulated with large hall. Quite existential, like a distant and wavy echo
- Blue LED – Sine chrous with large room reverb. Chorus with a bit of reverb. Classic chorus effect
- Yellow LED – Triangle Flanger with reverb. Distinctive flanger sound. Quite balanced modulation
- Magenta LED – Vintage tremolo with spring reverb. Shimmering effect
- Turquoise LED – Vibratone with reverb. Rotating speaker type effect. A mix between tremolo and flanger type effects
- Orange LED – Harmonic tremolo with reverb. Very distinct shimmer
- Raspberry LED – Slapback delay. Distinctive delay inspired by the 70’s and 80’s
- Spring Green LED – Tape delay. Warmer echo with some reverb
- Violet LED – Sine chorus with mono delay and reverb. Smooth chorus effects with some added delay
- Cyan LED – 2290 delay with reverb. Modern digital style delay
Although the effects can’t be dramatically altered, there is the option to use the modify buttons. This is a separate set of plus and minus buttons that allows you to alter the effects parameters. It’s very simple and is again denoted by LED colors.
- Violet LED – bypass. No effect
- Blue LED – two levels below default
- Green LED – one level below default
- White LED – default level
- Yellow LED – one level above default
- Red LED – two levels above default
These work by subtly altering the parameters of the effects. For example, you can alter the rate of the flanger depth or the delay level and time. This doesn’t give you fine control over the parameters, but it does allow for some variation and for bypass all together.
The keen eyed of you will have noticed that there’s a also an EQ section with it’s own plus and minus buttons. This allows you to make over-arching changes to the EQ. You won’t have fine control over bass, mid and treble, but you can brighten and darken the tone using these buttons. Again the setting is denoted by the color of the LED.
- Blue – darker —
- Green – dark –
- White – default
- Yellow – Bright +
- Red – Brighter ++
Although you can’t connect your guitar to the headphones via Bluetooth, you can connect your phone or other playback device to the unit via Bluetooth. That means you can play along to backing tracks wirelessly. That’s a great feature, especially for beginners and the whole affair is simple and easy.
Usefully you’ll also get an indication of the battery level, again denoted by LED color:
- Yellow solid – USB is connected and unit is charging
- Green – Solid – Power is on, fully charged
- Green flashing – Battery is greater than 50%
- Yellow flashing – battery is at 20%
- Red flashing – battery is less than 20%
- Red flashing rapidly – Possible battery charge error or temperature problem
The unit perhaps feels a little cheap, a little plastic. But for the price the features are extremely good. It would have been easy for Fender to forgo the plus and minus buttons and just have a single button to toggle between amp styles or effects. That would have been extremely annoying as you’d need to press the button lots of times if you missed the amp style you wanted.
Sure there are things that could make this better, such as some memory banks so you could move the amp styles to the order in which you prefer to use them. Going further some sort of footswitch compatibility would be great, but I’m not sure how that could be achieved without significantly increasing the size of the unit or without wireless technology.
For now, Fender has done a great job of packing this little unit full of features for a very reasonable price.
The Fender Mustang Micro is a gift for the beginner guitarist or for those who can’t use a traditional amp to practice at home. The portability is another big plus point, great for those who are often on the road. The Micro is a great way to experience different amp styles and effects without needing to blow a ton of money. There’s not a lot else on the market to rival the Mustang Micro, with the VOX Amplug range having a lot less features.
The plastic housing is a bit of a concern, but considering the amount of features the unit has, with a little care you shouldn’t encounter any problems. The included USB cable means you don’t have to buy anything else to charge the unit and the included cable also allows you to connect to a recording device. Overall, this is a great little unit, perfect for ultra convenient practice.
Looking for something else in an amp? Take a look at my Amps Page for more. I hope you’ve found this post useful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page.
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