Gear is subjective – we all gravitate to different things, sometimes surprisingly when it’s something we didn’t expect to like. But there’s a fundamental question we like to ask about new guitar gear: is it going to make guitarists want to play more?
Fender have recent form for breaking new ground to answer that question with an affirmative: Fender Play successfully tackles the question of how to keep new players... playing. Even the Acoustasonic series bridges the worlds of electric and acoustic in a fresh way that’s inspiring to experience. But the Mustang Micro’s appeal is far more universal than that. It’s something every electric guitar player would beneﬁt from owning.
The Mustang Micro headphone amp takes some of the modeling tech of the Mustang series of combos and heads and squeezes it into a compact chassis with a 270-degree rotating input jack. Plug your headphones in and you have access to 12 amps and 12 different effects combos. The amps each have five EQ settings and the effects each have the same number of parameter presets. This is all accessed at the side with color-coded + / - buttons, which face up as you play.
It’s an excellent selection – the amps running the gamut from direct to clean, crunch and high-gain, encompassing iconic Fender models like the ’65 Twin, Deluxe and Bassbreaker, up to high-gain Mustang models, the 5150-esque Metal 2000 and the Bogner-style Uber. You can choose from the ﬁve EQ settings to suit your tastes and pickups, moving from a middle flat setting (white LED), two darker settings and two brighter settings.
The effects treatment is even more canny – the modulated reverb and 2290 Delay and Reverb panned effects are especially engrossing, with the latter encouraging our wannabe Edge impression as repeats bounce around in your cans. The limit of five presets is actually freeing for the effects – changing parameters dependent on model choice including reverb level, delay level, delay time, trem speed, flanger depth and Vibratone speed.
It all sounds superb and the EQ presets help to tame the high gain models from getting too ﬁzzy, but honestly we were taken aback at how much quality is on access wherever you are. And it’s the mobility angle that is key here – pick up, plug in and play with an internal battery chargeable via USB to simplify things further.
But there’s more – you can stream audio from your phone via Bluetooth to jam along with, and plug it into your DAW via USB for recording if you wish (we used GarageBand with good results). A Fender amp home run, then: we think this will make you play guitar more, and enjoy it more, too.
- PRICE: $119 / £89
- TYPE: Headphone modelling amp
- CONTROLS: Volume, on/off/bluetooth pairing, amp +/-, EQ +/-, Effects +/-, Modify
- [effects] +/-
- FEATURES: USB-C recording/charging out, Bluetooth audio streaming, 12 amp model, 12 effect model combinations, rechargeable lithium-ion battery (4 hours minimum and 6 hours max battery life)
- DIMENSIONS [LxWxD]: 77mm x 37mm x 17mm
- CONTACT: Fender