From the Champion 50XL to the Mustang GT Series, here's why you should add one to your collection.
By Mike Duffy
While the debate between tube amplifiers and solid-state has raged on over the years, one could take that to the next level when also considering modeling amps.
The basic difference between solid-state and tubes is that solid-state amps boost the incoming signal without using vacuum tubes. Instead, circuits with semi-conductors enhance the electrical current of your guitar.
Modeling amps go one step further, adding in additional digital processors that can recreate the sounds of a variety of different amplifiers and effects.
So why would you want to add a modeling amp to your arsenal?
Check out a few pros to consider.
Because modeling amps are based on computers and chips, they are quite light, and therefore, portable.
The Mustang GT 40 weighs in at a mere 14 pounds, while its bigger sibling, the Mustang GT 200, tips the scales at a manageable 34 pounds. As for the Champion 50XL, it tips the scales at 19 pounds.
For a gigging musician — especially someone in a Top 40 band who needs to cycle through several tones over the course of a set — a modeling amp can be a great way to achieve that in a single amplifier without lugging several amps and a massive pedal board to the venue.
Again, this goes back to the circuitry. Glass tubes use filaments similar to light bulbs, and they can be fragile, causing noise or signal loss and the need for replacement.
What’s more, tubes can wear out, even if that happens to occur at a barely perceptible rate. Over time, it is inevitable — remember, vacuum tubes are a decades-old technology — whereas a digital amp will faithfully recreate your dialed-in settings time and time again, barring any major issues.
“If your tubes start going bad, whether from age, use, climate, whatever … your sound’s going to change,” said Fender Amplifiers Product Development Manager Rick Heins.
Options abound when it comes to modeling amps. For the Fender Mustang GT Series, you could call them limitless.
The Mustang GT amps are equipped with Bluetooth and WiFi to connect to the Internet, allowing them to receive new features and hardware updates. Also, when paired with the companion Fender Tone app, users have the ability to seamlessly modify the different amp models and effects and save them to their Mustang GT. From artist-curated presets to presets added to the cloud by an ever-growing community, the Mustang GT presents a wealth of creative potential.
The Champion 50XL also packs a wide selection of amp models and effects, with four "stompbox" effects (Compressor, Overdrive, Distortion and Octaver) adding flexibility to the 12 amp tones that range from pristine clean to full metal distortion. A full complement of twelve classic effects, ranging from reverb and delay to Vibratone, provide the perfect platform for sonic experimentation.
As in many things in the world of guitars and amplifiers, it comes down to what sounds good to you. While it's true there are some players who refuse to play anything but a tube amp, the benefits of a good modeling amp are clear.