This latest Mustang is a true micro [tone] machine!
When a guitarist hears the word “Mustang,” it is typically the Fender Mustang guitars (and basses!) that come to mind. These instruments made waves back in the mid 60s as a new type of gear that was ideal for students - sounding great and easy to play. Because of this pedigree, Mustang instruments earned a cult following in the 90s music scene with grunge artists able to score these great instruments at an affordable price. These guitars featured unique styles of pickups, switching, and tremolo arms. Perhaps most unique of all was their shorter scale length of 24 and even 22.5 inches.
It was perhaps this smaller scale length and beginner-friendliness that may have inspired the name of Fender’s series of wildly popular practice amps which took classic amp tones and pared them down into something far more portable than lugging around a suitcase-sized Twin Reverb and a bunch of pedals, cables, and adapters. However, even a modest brand-new Mustang LT25 8” practice amp is still a bit cumbersome when it comes to something that is super tiny and lightweight. Granted, it is VERY portable; but this small-but-mighty amp still tips the scale at 15 pounds, will cost you about $150, and won't fit in your gig bag OR pocket.
Enter the Mustang Micro Headphone Amp! Now again, most guitar players think of Mustang guitars and practice amps when hearing “Mustang”, and most pro audio folks will think of a headphone amp (booster) when they hear “headphone amp” - but this is literally a way to turn your headphones into a guitar amplifier (or 12)! This super tiny machine from the folks at Fender is chock-full of amazing features and comes in at about $100. Best of all? The entire unit only weighs a few ounces, is smaller than a deck of cards (and the Ernie Ball Volt) and comes with a lithium-ion battery for 4 hours of wireless tangle-free jamming!
Controls are super simple, as the tiny plastic box features the same ¼" jack we all know and love, a large volume knob and Bluetooth pairing button on the front (top?), and amp/eq/FX/mod buttons on the side. The battery/data port is also USB-C which is fantastic news as this polarity-neutral port is quickly becoming the latest and best standard for charging/data/etc.
While the layout might be simple and stripped down, it’s what’s inside that counts. Fender has managed to cram all of the amazing tones and features of the aforementioned Mustang practice amps into this tiny thing, meaning players get 12 amp models ranging from ‘Fender Twin’ clean awesomeness to heavy-handed high gain even-more-awesomeness, 12 effect combinations with parameter modification controls, a fully adjustable EQ, and a master volume to keep levels where they belong in your mix (as well as to not damage your hearing).
💥 FRET12 PROTIP: WEAR HEARING PROTECTION and use good judgment with any headphones or amplification devices. We only get one set of ears, so protect them!
For fans of high-quality pro headphones, this unit THANKFULLY comes with the industry standard 1/8” headphone port meaning you can use your best studio cans for proper guitar sounds. BUT remember earlier when we were talking about tangle-free and wireless? You WILL need to have one wire running from your headphones to this unit, but that far and away beats having cables strewn about all over your hotel room/tent/car/airliner wherever you find yourself jamming on-the-go.
But fear not, fans of wireless, you can stream music FROM your phone via Bluetooth TO this device so you can jam along with your fav tracks, backing tracks, playlists, and/or WIP song ideas and not have a cable cluttering up your workflow. This ensures you can have the ease of wireless connectivity where it counts, but not need to worry about latency between your hands and what your ears hear.
“Mustang Micro supports Bluetooth audio streaming from your mobile device, tablet or computer to Mustang Micro and features automatic Audio/Visual sync, making it a great tool for practicing and learning songs. And you can even record your favorite guitar tones and the Bluetooth audio stream simultaneously using Mustang Micro’s USB-C output. It’s the ultimate guitar karaoke machine!”
The unit also features a rotating jack, meaning that once it is plugged in to your axe of choice, you can maneuver the unit so it best fits the contours of your guitar’s body. Furthermore, the USB-C interface means you can easily connect this unit without any dumb proprietary connectors to your DAW of choice, making recording the tones you hear easier than ever.
Rather than needing to find things on tiny knobs or reading small displays, Fender has simplified the user interface with a simple color-coding scheme. No numbers, words, or weird lawsuit-dodging nicknames to have to memorize! So, you can read the manual to find out the real names of what you like, but with some quick scrolling, you might find yourself saying “I love the pink tone for my clean and the blue tone for my dirty.” Granted, this means players will need to memorize some colors of their favorite settings, but that also may lend itself to choosing tones based more on what their ear likes versus what some display text says.
As you’ll see in some of our FRET12 video picks below, there are some fascinating new abilities that this tiny device can bring into our box o’ tricks. For instance, once your ears become accustomed to your favorite amp settings inside the Mustang Micro, you could, in theory bring this with you to a guitar shop, and without harassing any of the long-in-the-ears staff members, audition new guitars with an amp setting you can objectively compare against! This takes a lot of those “X factors” out of the equation when trying new guitars and pickups- i.e., ‘Is this guitar really better sounding? Or is it just that its cranked up loud in a store?’
Guitar Movies shows us the true magic of having 12 amps in your hand, and being able to play anywhere “I find excuses to bring my guitar everywhere now because it’s so much fun”.
YouTuber Elmo Karjalainen wants to find out just HOW epic (or not) the Mustang Micro may or may not be!
And for those of you looking to just hear the Mustang Micro and not a random guitarist yapping away, here is Henning Paul demoing this piece of gear - All sounds, NO Talk!