Mustang IV review by Fender

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.4 (54 votes)
Fender: Mustang IV

Sound — 9
Here's where I need to backup an give a little history, about 6 months ago, I bought a used mustang 2, I was getting tired of my Vox AD30VT (great for cleans not for dirty). So I picked up the FM-II. Wow the cleans are better than the Vox, Plus the distortion was just what I was looking for, result - the Vox sold on craigslist 3-days later, I will never regret it. After playing for a while I decided to upgrade to the FM-IV to have the stereo sound, Love IT! Now I have 2 mustangs. II - for the bedroom, the IV - for the Jam room! The Mustang is great for any style of music, at any sound level. It reacts like a tube amp in regard to pick attack. And the sound too, Is much better than the Line 6 crap! (sorry line6 owners... It's true).

Overall Impression — 10
Overall this will be my only main amp for the foreseeable future. I'm extremely thrilled with it.

Reliability & Durability — 7
Basic construction, Not high end at all. Tolex covered particle board, seems sturdy enough. Has a good strong handle. Would survive a short fall, wouldn't test it though! Will last years if properly cared for. As for the aux in & headphone inputs, I have my doubt as they seem a bit fragile.

Features — 9
Mfg'd in 2011 by Fender China. This amp has more sounds than you can shake a stick at! Has a great Satriani sound all the way to the cleanest of blues. Has 100 presets and these are all pretty good, Sounds like Fender hired guys that actually know what a good preset sounds like. Plug it in, Turn it on, the 1st preset is called "Liquid". It's like sliding down a water slide coated in oil! Man does it sound sweet. The headphone jack is great for late night quiet practice. The fuse software is fun to tweak amp presets. Or logon to the the ever growing online fuse community an download their presets.

23 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I'm a guitar player of 30 years. Played only fender twins, music man 130 watt tubes, etc. plugged effects into them to get sounds I wanted and needed...always in the pursuit of a sound. Thousands of dollars come and gone in this ever futile effort. Name the amp and the effect and I've probably eith owned or tried it. Now, I purchased a line 6 spider 3 112 75 watt several years ago for fun and to put in my living room to goof off with. Yep pretty fun, a bit goofy, but not really a serious amp. I recently was in the music store looking at yet a few more smaller tube amps and I came across the Mustang 4. Thought what the hell and took it in the private room along with the othe tube amps I was checking out. I plugged into the Mustand and..what the hell! This thing blew me away. Way Louder than the 50 watt bogner 2x12 I was checking out! Sounds so full and rich and clear and overdriven and lush etc etc. this thing was pushing air across my pant legs! I'm sorry all you tube snobs but this amp sounds great and now I can simplify my life finally! No more pedals, no more extra tubes and even a back up amp really. No more wrenching my shoulder socket, lol. I love this mustang 4 and you know what... The truth is, nobody out there in the audience gives a rats ass anyway, it plays awesome and sounds awesome. Great amp
    I couldn't agree more. Like yourself I've been playing and gigging for almost 50 years and I have to chuckle when I see these kids on here say modeling amps are for beginners. The REAL beginners are the ones that haven't been in the business long enough to know that the only ears that matter are the ears of the audience. After all they are the ones paying the bills. And their ears could care less about tube amp "warmth". The fact is most of these kids can only play one style of music, so they don't need this kind of variety. Those of us that have been around long enough to remember when you could actually make a full time living as a musician know that your value is based on your ability to play various styles from one song to the next. Like yourself I view the modeling amps as the answer to all my prayers. An amp that will give me truly authentic sounds as I move from rock to jazz to blues to country to rockabilly to funk to R&B throughout a set, priced this low, and this light weight! What more can one ask for as a gigging musician???
    I bought the Mustang IV a couple months back and I love it. Here’s why. I’m in a classic rock/R&B cover band that plays out 5-8 times a month in what is probably the worst environment for gear I can think of. We’re in a coastal resort town in the southeast US. Most of the gigs are outside in high heat and brutal humidity in the summer and in the winter propane heaters are fired up to help keep the listeners and musicians warm. And of course there’s nice corrosive salt air and pop up thunderstorms. And playing indoors can be even more hazardous. The venues are usually small with no stage and dancers right on top of you. Me and my gear have been accidentally doused with beer and umbrella drink contents many times by wild enthusiastic dancers. And having fx engaged or turned off by dancer missteps is almost a nightly occurrence. All great fun, but like I said, tough on equipment. Needed to change up my gear so went looking. I wanted the following and got it in the Mustang IV: Reliability? Check. It’s a freakin’ Fender. Nuff said. And no tubes to worry about. Definitely at the top of my list. Don’t feel the need for a backup and don’t have room for one in my car anyway. Just want to play the gig with no issues, not worry about babying an expensive tube amp. Power? Check. 150 SS watts and 2x12. Good to go in large and small rooms or outdoor gigs with or without going through the PA. Portability? Check. It’s only 47 pounds. Not what some would consider a featherweight but easy to get in and out of the trunk of a car and a flight of stairs is not a problem. I was looking at an Egnater with 2X12 and it weighs 91 pounds! Smaller footprint on stage? Check. Not that we play on a stage very often but that’s why I needed a smaller footprint. Don’t want or need pedals or a pedal board. The Mustang has every effect I could ever need and then some. Everything is controllable on a 4 button footswitch which I can easily slide out of harms way when I see trouble coming. Of course stuff still happens. Had a couple stompers trigger some things a couple nights ago. Glad the footswitch is way sturdy. Affordability? Check! I was definitely on a budget and at $450 US this amp is a steal. 150 watts, amp modeling, fx and 2x12 Celestions? Yes, yes, yes, yes. All well and good you say, but what about…. Sound? Check and double check!! Amp sounds are really good but the trick is tweaking. And I don’t just mean messing with the EQ controls. The cool thing is on the second level of amp settings you can adjust the SAG and bias. In addition to doing those adjustments the trick for me since I play a Les Paul is watching the gain on my guitar and rolling off the tone controls. Absolutely tube-esque! And as I mentioned every effect you’ll ever need. In the end it’s all a matter of what sounds good to you. As mentioned in earlier posts the audience doesn’t know the difference and they don’t care. They just want to party to some good tunes. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have a nice tube amp. And I'm no beginner. When I started playing solid state amps weren't even around. (I hate to think about that!)Played through tube amps for many years. Was really looking at Egnaters and Blackstars. But as a working, weekend warrior musician when it comes to cost, practicality and sound the Fender Mustang is the **** hands down.
    Over the years I have owned a Fender Super Reverb (silver face) a Fender Twin, a Messa Single Rectifier, an Ultimate Chorus, an Ampeg VT22, and a variety of cheap SS and tube amps. Ive giged with most of the amps and found them all to be what I wanted them to be. All amps, it doesnt matter if they are SS or tube need to be tweaked, and it is your ear that makes that successful. I just bought two new amps, A GDEC3 30 and a Mustang IV. They are both amazing amps, the technology that went into these amps is amazing. Out of the box I've had hours of fun with both amps. The mustang is loud with amazing head room and an array of presets that are usable and with a few tweaks can be what I want them to be. Tubes are so great and the sound is so round and real but I can say these new Fenders are most of the way there. And I get them all, I get all the tube amps I want, not just one (although I was a bit shocked that there was no 4 x 10 Super in the mix). Are you a diehard tuber, thats cool, I was one once, now Im a diehard tone seeker.
    I have a Mustang III and three great tube amps. I doubt if I will ever turn the tube amps on again other than to see if they still work ... or maybe if I need to play a large venue that needs my 100W head and 4X12. I am not a newbie ... have been playing over 40 years. Unless you have ears like a freaking bat, you cannot tell any difference between the Mustang modeling and a real tube amp.
    My main amp is a JCM800 with two cabinets and I previously owned a Fender Super Twin Reverb (180w) so it's fair to say I like a tube sound. When I first heard the Mustang IV, though, I bought one straight away and remain very happy with the amp. The FM-IV is very useful to me because it produces a range of tones that I cannot get with my JCM800. When I played my latest guitar, a Gibson Midtown Custom through the FM-IV, set on the Fender Twin Reverb model, I was able to get some gorgeous tones with sparkling highs. Anyone listening would not have been able to tell whether the amp was valve/ss but they would have said the sound was fantastic. My other guitars including Strats a Tele and a Gibson Les Paul Custom all sound very good through this amp. When they said the FM-IV was loud, they were not joking. It is easily loud enough for a gig or for entertaining your neighbours at the other end of the street. Reading the posts, I think too many players get hung up on the valve/ss thing and do not appreciate there are good and bad versions of each. The FM-IV is an outstanding example of a great, modern ss amp that will keep most players amused for a long time. And it comes at a bargain price.
    Seref wrote: Most cheap tube combos are low gain/low volume one trick ponies. A Blackstar HT-5 or Vox AC4 won't be heard over a drummer, and are not the amps you want if you're playing anything heavier than hard rock. Modelling is for beginners for a specific reason, and that reason isn't affordability. It's so they can figure out what they like, experiment, and then later on down the road they can buy a real tube amp. Not to mention that you would need to add an extra $150 to the price tag of a cheap little tube amp for a multiFX unit to make up for the lack of effects that are present on a modelling amp. You guys have to remember that just because an amp is a tube amp doesn't mean it's good. A cheap amp will sound like shit whether its SS or modelling or tube. With that in mind, a 212 combo that is as versatile as the Mustang IV is a good investment in my book. And lastly, the latest line of Mustangs are killer amps. Sure, they're not tube and blah blah. But for small casual gigs and even some limited recording work, they get the job done. So what if it's not a Twin or a AC30 or a JCM800? Boo hoo.
    Agree, there's a lot of elitism and dismissing anything digital because people like to jump on the bandwagon and repeat what others say. I was looking at guitarist Andy James pedal lineup, he uses Blackstar HT valve distortion but also some inexpensive Digitech and Boss noise/tone shaping pedals. I've read some fairly negative reports about cheap valve heads and the various problems they can have. As far as I'm concerned the Fender Mustang offers something I like... STEREO! I have 2 x stereo guitar FX processors and stereo combos are almost non-existent.
    Here's the deal with this amp and the SS vs. tube debate. THERE ISNT A SINGLE PERSON ON THIS PLANET THAT WANTS TUBE AMPS TO BE BETTER. - well, maybe tube manufacturers Tube amps are a pain in the ass for several reasons - we all know what they are. So I desperately WANT SS amps to be just as good. So does every guitarist. who wouldnt want something half the weight, with no warm up time and no tubes to deal with etc? of course, we all want that. So, when I stumbled across a mention of these newfangled (new to me) amps, I got kind of excited at the possibility. I thought to my self (have they finally done it?). So I went to GC on a slow day and axed to be put in the bass room (guitar room was occupied) with the IV and grabbed a nice strat (sales dude was super cool as usual). Fired that baby up and within minutes my heart sank. YET AGAIN.... I was so bummed. Might it sound okay or even good to some? sure, it sounds decent enough on some of the patches. And it does actually respond to pick attack fairly well. but it is totally missing the MEAT and balls (lol, that reads funny) of a tube amp. And I was sooo hoping it would sound great because that 2x12 was sooo freaking light! Anyone who plays tube amps knows what I mean. Either modeling toys sound like shit, or, they sound decent but FEEL like shit. Where's the beef? Where's the oomph? Is it a wattage problem, I wonder? I am NOT talking about volume. I would love to hook the preamp modeling portion of this amp up to a 500 or 1,000 watt amp and see if maybe thats the issue. I have no idea all I know is how goddamned dissapointing it is when it comes to feel. For a beginner, sure, its fine. but once you have played a nice gritty overdriven groove on a tube amp and spank the strings and get that punchy, powerful responsive feel and sound that has guts and makes the guitar come alive....THAT is the difference and its so vital because it makes you want to play. you feel like you are interacting with the guitar and amp. Modelers feel dead and lifeless. I will say that it doesnt necessarily have to be tube. I have a Sansamp Psa 1 rack unit that is SS but its 100% analog signal path. its not digital. And its powered with a tube head. Sounds very good and FEELS very good. (actually, feels better than it sounds which is a bit odd). So, I think thats what most people experience when they go from a tube amp to a SS digital modeler. Its not that we don't want it to be good. I mean, my god man, who wouldnt want a $500 do-it-all amp that they can easily carry around and never have to worry about reliability? Nobody. Thats what we all want. But they just dont get it. And that, to me, is the most unbelievable part. These legendary amp makers have to know they dont feel right. Hell a regular SS fender combo amp feels okay, it just doesnt sound good. And, I've come to the conclusion that tubes in the preamp section dont matter as much as the saturation and oomph provided by the power tubes (not an expert in this area but it seems to be the case). So....that begs the question...when is a Mustang coming out that has a tube power amp section? p.s. the mustang heavy distorted sounds blow regardless of the power section. Not surprising with Fender though. Not their thing.
    I think there will always be tube purists who will claim all ss amps are inferior. I've been playing for over 40 years and have had Fender twins, Mesa Boogie and Peavey tube amps. I prefer the Mustang IV for it's versatility and ease of operation. I can get the sound I want and not have to worry about carrying a ton of pedals or noise from a tube amp. Let's not suggest one amp is better than another. Let's just make music the best way we can.
    I own a Fender Mustang II (think I posted a review somewhere) and I just bought a Mustang 4 (V2). The jury is out but so far I strongly prefer the II (V1) as the 4 seems to AMPLIFY SOME of the problems of the II..... I may return the 4(V2) and buy a Blackstar Stage 60... I will post a full review of the Mustang 4 (V2) when I get a chance and if I decide one way or another to keep it. Of note - My Mustang II clean tones are really bloody good, as good as my Twin Reverb (say 85%) but on headphones they sound so much better (bypass cheap speakers in the FM-II etc). AS far as the SS vs Tube argument goes... most music we hear today is DIGITAL.. digitally made, manipulated, fabricated etc but if one listens to someone playing one of those Lazy J amps in clean (see the guy from Vintage Trouble playing "Nobody Told Me") and one would say the great Tube amps simply sound better (at 5 times the price). Also, to those saying Blackstar Stage series are 100% tube is slightly incorrect as they have a SS front end and all tube back end...
    Purchased new a few weeks ago....took it back. Sounds like a screechy cat. Very Empty and hollow. Effects are nice, but not worth it. Vent back to a Vox VT80+. Night and day. By far a much better gig amp.....
    I would love to check one out. My neighbor has the smaller combo version. Some of itvsounds good but other parts do not. His may not get loud enough as its a low watter. Having an amp that can get close to the classic sounds of Fenders will suffice with all the effects. I have stomp boxes, G Major, and a modeling amp and liked the modeler for practice and live cause it was light, easy, simplevto set up and well the metal tones were close enough anyways I have not found the amp for me and have played the Marshall Plexi, Marshall JCM800, Marshall JVM410H, the Marshall JCM 2000 DSL 100, Peavy Ultra Plus, Peavey JSX, Fender Hot Rod deluxe III, Line 6 Spider III 150 W, VVT coupla models and unless u jack the tube amps beyond making me deaf just to practice. Ive played thru a Dumble and i know the bloom and like it. Point is even if u buy a tube amp it may not do you. Get something that makes your skin crawl when u play it and that is all that matters. Kepp it simple unitl u are thevheadlining act making money.
    Had the IV mustang and its good with its effects and flexibility and to me it depends on what you want in playing I now have a ORANGE rockerverb 50w and yes it's pricy and its all tube but no fizz and in my opinion has the perfect tone I want the mustang left me hungry for better tone
    rv_phoenix wrote: Plain Chinese modelling crap. Technology might have come a long way, but still isn't able - and will always remain unable - to make equal an emulated and a natural sound. For the very reason the emulated sound is emulated after the natural, and we know that, in such a process, a 100% efficience is impossible by nature. More than that: being considerably cheaper, Mustangs have bad speakers, much worse than regular Eminences that can be found on Fender all-tubes. So, no, Fender Mustang isn't a good amp. You can't use it onstage or in studio. (Studio work is merciless: the monitors show all the flaws of a record, and every modelling toy finds itself in pain, when submitted to the test of the studio.) Buy a decent all-tube and learn to bring it to overdrive by the way you play!
    I agree with you that the sound is emulated after a real sound so it will never sound better than the original: It just can't because it's modeling the original sound if you know what I mean. But I can't comment about this amp, haven't tried. But why can't they make their own sounds with digital technology? Then they wouldn't be emulating anything.
    Mmm, for those people that want tube sound from their solid state amp, just buy a Bravo Audio Tube converter for 60$ on ebay, it will give you the real tube tone that you require, harmonics & increase gain to any distortion effect that you have. I use it on a Fender 212rR & I have nothing but compliments of the tone that comes out from my 100w ss amp.
    Yeah I got this and it works for me because I'm not famous. I just play bars and clubs locally. This amp lets me dial in whatever sound effects I need. They may not be top of the line sounds but most people in the general public don't care and don't know the difference. For the average low-rung working musician this amp works just fine. If you're a serious recording artist or something where your tone really matters, than you'll probably want the top stuff.
    I'm thinking of getting either this amp or a Vox VT120. Does anyone have an opinion on what I should get? I don't want to buy a "proper" valve amp cos I would honestly have no idea what I'm looking for so I thought getting a modeling amp seems like a good place to start - just so I can find the "sound" I like. So anyone recommend which one I should get? Cheers
    I just bought this amp, and I've played both SS and Tubes. I dig on this because I live in an apartment and have a 7 week old baby [and the gf hah] and having a tube amp right now would seem redundant esp. because most of my ideas come to me late at night and since i play genres ranging from indie pop, noise rock, and stoner, it's sweet to have all these different sounds. I do however plan on getting a nice OD/Dist. pedal to boost for the Fender clean presets, not enough bite for me [that i know of, my epi dot is in the shop and im playing my half working fender tele that has seen it's bad days and sounds like shit] so hopefully the OD will sound good with the Dot when I get it back.
    I'm a beginner and totally agree with you. I have a rolland 80 cube.
    ciadude2 wrote: Tube amps aren't ALWAYS better. Like if the guitarist is new and just starting out and wants to be able to learn and experiment a modeler is fine. My first two guitar amps were the Vox VT-30 and then the Peavey Vypyr 75. I have no regrets at all, because they were fantastic learning tools. I know play out of a 6505+ head with a JCM900 Cabinet. Hell of an upgrade. Yeah tubes generally sound better but for a learner, modelers are fine.
    Seref wrote: To be fair, there are good tube amps in the $450 range. A Fender Blues Junior or a Jet City JCA20 are some pretty sweet amps, but they are flawed in the way that modelling amps aren't--those amps are very limited and not versatile at all. A Blues Junior is a great little amp but to play more than two Blues and Classic Rock, you're going to need to invest a lot of money in pedals.
    Yes, but if you have found your sound you don't need versatility. Like me: I only want a Marshall sound. That's what I like so my next amp will surely be a Marshall. But of course modeler is the best choice as a first amp. Then you will know what the amps that the modeler emulates will sound like. But who pays 450 bucks for their first amp?
    Plain Chinese modelling crap. Technology might have come a long way, but still isn't able - and will always remain unable - to make equal an emulated and a natural sound. For the very reason the emulated sound is emulated after the natural, and we know that, in such a process, a 100% efficience is impossible by nature. More than that: being considerably cheaper, Mustangs have bad speakers, much worse than regular Eminences that can be found on Fender all-tubes. So, no, Fender Mustang isn't a good amp. You can't use it onstage or in studio. (Studio work is merciless: the monitors show all the flaws of a record, and every modelling toy finds itself in pain, when submitted to the test of the studio.) Buy a decent all-tube and learn to bring it to overdrive by the way you play!