• Amazon: Fender Mustang Floor
• Pros: Intuitively easy to use, with a good set of amp models and well-produced effects, along with plenty of footswitches and sturdy construction.
• Cons: The number of different effects and amp models available is fairly low, and there isn’t much scope for on-the-fly editing during a performance.
• Overall: A fantastic pedal. It’s ideal for casual players, but also has a fair amount to offer serious gigging musicians, despite some minor limitations.
The Fender Mustang Floor is what you get when you rip the amp-modeling and effects-laden processor from a Mustang III/IV/V amp and stick it into a sizable multi-effects style floor unit. The result might not have the overwhelming number of amp models and effects you’ll find with many options on the market, such as the Zoom G5, but when it really comes down to it, do we need hundreds of amp models and effects, or should we be more concerned about the quality of the sounds offered? Does Fender’s entry into the world of effects pedals fall short of the competition, or simply remind us of the importance of quality over quantity?
Looking at the beastly pedal, the first thing you’ll notice is the relatively simplistic layout. The right hand edge of the unit is occupied by an expression pedal, directly to the left there is an LCD screen (with a pushable dial and a small collection of buttons) and the remainder of the pedal is taken up by nine metallic button-style footswitches. If you’re familiar with the Mustang amps, the layout will make you feel right at home, but even for those completely new to Fender Mustangs, the Floor pedal has a comfortingly straightforward layout.
For connecting up, there are plenty of options on the Mustang Floor. The back of the unit is complete with a 1/4 inch input, stereo 1/4 inch outputs, dual XLR outputs, a MIDI in and out, two jacks for a mono effects loop, an auxiliary input (1/8 inch), a headphone jack and a USB port. There’s also a spare 1/4 inch jack for an expression pedal or optional footswitch.
The Mustang Floor comes stocked with 12 amp models, including models of classic Fender amps such as the ’57 Deluxe and the ’65 Twin Reverb, as well as some more generically-named ones for guitarists looking for a specific sound, like British ‘80s. For effects, there are 7 stomp effects, 10 reverbs, 9 delays and 11 modulators to choose from. You can store your sounds in any of the 100 preset locations included on the pedal, some of which come with factory sounds pre-programmed in. While many other pedals on the market have selections that dwarf that from the Mustang Floor, there is still more than enough to experiment with here.
You can use the Fender Mustang in one of two modes: “Preset” or “FX Select” mode, selected using the dedicated “Mode” footswitch. In “Preset” mode, the “Bank/Preset” switch allows you to change between banks, and in “FX Select” mode it allows you to change between presets. This means you can navigate between presets hands-free, even if they’re in a different bank. You can also choose a preset with the dial next to the LCD screen, and the buttons below it can be used for parameter adjustment. If you want on-the-fly control over a parameter, it can be assigned to the expression pedal. By pushing down the toe end of the expression pedal, you choose between altering your chosen parameter or just using it as a volume pedal.
Fender’s FUSE software also comes with the pedal (which you download for free), and allows you to control effects parameters on your computer, including some which otherwise can’t be edited. Connecting up via USB allows you to make these edits and save effectively unlimited presets on your computer, as well as giving Fender the opportunity to update the pedal’s firmware.
Is it Quality Over Quantity?
For anybody familiar with multi-effects pedals, especially those put off by complex arrays of dials, switches and buttons, the simplicity of the Fender Mustang is a breath of fresh air. The advanced manual is a mere 12 pages, and in reality, you probably won’t even need it anyway. That’s how easy the Mustang Floor is to use; a welcome change for anybody who feels like using most multi-effects pedals might as well require a freaking degree, and one taught entirely through badly-written manuals, at that.
The sound quality is also excellent, overall. With the overdrive-heavy amp models like “American ‘90s,” you might find the undertones a little overpowering (even after reducing the bass it’s still not ideal), but for the most part they’re responsive and sound great. Not perfect, of course, but right up there with what you expect from high-end amp models. For stompboxes, you have a fantastic selection, with plenty of options for tweaking the sound and generally authentic results.
As long as you prepare, the fact that the Mustang Floor is primarily composed of footswitches makes it well-suited for live use. The only challenges may come if you need to make on-the-fly changes, because the display screen is a little small, and you’ll need to stoop over to press buttons and turn dials to alter anything other than the parameter you’ve assigned to the expression pedal. However, if you have your sounds sculpted before you step on stage, arranged sensibly and ensure you don’t need to make any changes mid-set (you could, for example, make a few small tweaks to the sound of one preset and save the result separately), then the Mustang Floor works pretty well live. It’s definitely worth considering other options if you’re a serious gigging musician, though.
The Mustang may not be able to join in the “we have more amp models than you” one-up-man-ship the industry seems obsessed with, but it’s an important reminder that it’s better to do fewer things really well than a ton of things to a mediocre standard. If you can live without little bells and whistles like drum machines, loopers and an extra 50 effects you’ll probably barely use, then the Mustang Floor is great for its straight-to-the-point effectiveness and ease of use. For a full-time gigging musician, it’s worth thinking about whether you’ll need easy on-the-fly editing before you make the purchase, but for most casual players, the Mustang is a great option – more than suitable for home use and the occasional gig.
Amazon: Fender Mustang Floor