Fender has just introduced a new amp and effects modeling device, the Fender Mustang Floor. I haven’t heard it yet, but it’s an interesting box, and I’ve got a few harp player-oriented comments to share.
From the early reviews on sites like Sweetwater.com, it appears that the main attraction of the device for guitarists is its faithful modeling of Fender amps. Since many harp players use and love Fender amps, this is a plus. Another plus is the nine footswitches for controlling amp models, FX, and so on. More footswitches means fewer footpresses in performance to get the sound you want, which is all to the good.
Where the box falls down for harp players is in the FX section. The two most popular FX in my series of patches for the Digitech RP series devices are the pitch shifter and the rotary speaker; I know that I can’t live without a low octave doubler anymore, and the rotary speaker is terrifically useful in many, many different styles. Neither of these FX are included in the Mustang Floor, and two of the nine FX included–the ring modulator and step filter–are pretty unlikely to interest harp players. Ditto for a number of the other mod FX, such as the variations on phasing, chorus, flanging, and so on.
This is okay so far as it goes, but then we add in the price–about $300–which is $100 over the suggested retail price for the Digitech RP355, a very capable device that gives harp players a wider range of amp models and useful FX–and the value for money question comes up strong. CORRECTION Nov. 3 2012: Street price for the Mustang Floor is about $200, so the same as an RP355. The RP355 offers more variety, as described above, but the price-performance comparison is certainly a lot closer at $200 for a Mustang Floor.
I think the Mustang Floor will appeal most to harp players who want a traditional Fender amp sound with good reverbs and delays, and nothing more. However, those players will need to ask themselves whether it’s worth springing for the Mustang Floor over the Tech21 Blonde pedal, another Fender amp emulator that costs about $150 new, is much smaller and lighter than the Mustang Floor, produces an excellent range of Fender amp tones, and runs on battery, a very convenient feature at a jam session. The Blonde doesn’t include reverb or delay, but many players don’t seem to find either essential, and those that do can easily add either or both to the FX chain when they feel like it.
I’ll look forward to trying this device out, and will report on what I hear when I do. in the meantime, if you get a chance to check out the Mustang Floor, let me know what you hear.