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I know this amp looks small, and it is physically but it is huge in what it has inside and in the sounds it can make!
Click image to enlarge

Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier

It’s small, it’s big – You decide

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted - 8-31-2012

When I returned to playing guitar after 35 years off the yearning for a large amp, say a Marshall Stack, was quickly overcome by common sense and the lack of room in my office, the only place where I would be appearing. Then while cruising the Internet looking at smaller amp offerings I hit on the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier. I kept going back to that listing and could find nothing I didn’t like but lots of possibilities so I ordered a Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier along with my Fender Telecaster.

The Basics

The Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier is in effect a practice amp that thinks it is much more. Those are not random musings either as there is lots of stuff packed into this little powerhouse. With 30W of power through a single 10” speaker I can’t rattle auditoriums but I can blow away my office. Actually the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier really is capable of the auditorium thing because it has left and right outputs that can go right into the soundboard and out through the PA system. There is only one instrument input on the front panel but another is hidden in the rear making this a great student/instructor amp as well. For student and pro players Fender included a chromatic tuner in the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier that is always the push of a button away!

The Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier also has a headphones jack that allows you to rock only your world when others may not share your enthusiasm. We also find a high-speed, low-latency USB port on the front panel which has wide-ranging possibilities that include connecting directly to your computer and into sound editing programs. I found that the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier showed up in my Adobe Audition program and that I could record directly from the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier and edit the sound in that program.

 

The front panel is rather sparse. On the left is the main input and tone control. On the right side we find the band volume, overall volume, the SD slot, headphones jack and the USB port that leads to why there are so few other controls.
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We also find an SD slot that not only lets you store unlimited numbers of presets and recordings it can help you learn to play guitar! Fender teamed up with Hal Leonard who produces a series of instructional books designed specifically for the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier. These books come with and SD card that adds jam tracks and play-along lesson tracks. Hal Leonard offers books on many popular artists and groups including: Nirvana, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, ZZ Top and AC/DC along with genre-specific versions for Country, Acoustic, Hard Rock and a special version of the venerable Hal Leonard Guitar Method – Book 1!

There is only Volume, Tone and “Band” dials on the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier because this is a modeling type amp that comes with 100 presets built into the computer within that provides a huge range of options in the kind of sound you want to produce from pure country to pure metal. Many of the presets have jam tracks included that you get to control in speed and volume. You can also record your own jam track and play along with it as often as you like. There is so much available within the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier that it takes some getting used to if you are not accustomed to a wildly versatile amp.

The rear panel has a mini-plug input that lets you connect most devices like IPods etc. to bring in even more music you want to play with.

Fender® FUSE™ Software

Among other included software titles you get Fender® FUSE™ Software (for PC and Mac) that really throws the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier door wide open. This nifty bit or software gives you full control of the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier including all of the 100 presets included and thousands more available (free) on the Fender web site.

You can edit each of the presets right down to adjusting the controls on the simulated stomp boxes! The Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier comes with gobs of built-in effects including overdrive, modulation, reverb and delays with many versions of each of those. You literally get to add stomp boxes and adjust their controls to develop the exact sound that you want!

Plugged In

The center of the front panel (left) is dominated by the computer controls. From here you can select any of the 100 presets, band jam tracks, tuner, metronome and more. On the right is a sample of the Fuse software screen that literally lets you build an amp and effects group.
Click images to enlarge

Though I was impressed enough with all of the Fender-issued hype about the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier I was most surprised when I plugged my new Telecaster into it. I fully expected a somewhat diminished kind of sound but what came out was full and clear that projected the sharp Telecaster twang just as I remembered it through full-on play-out-for-money systems. I would find that you can make the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier do pretty much anything you want short of actually blowing the windows out and it’s not all that far from that capability either.

The range of presets that come installed is amazing and gives you a good selection of styles from blues to full-on metal, jazz and pretty much whatever you might want in between. Being able to plug the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier into your computer and tweak all of those and thousands of other presets, as well as building your own presets means you are the limiting factor, not the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier.

One of the things I found myself doing was playing one tune or lick over and over as I worked through the presets to compare how it sounded in each of them. It is interesting how an individual preset can change how some of the strings sound as compared to in other presets. The good news is that all of this versatility should let you develop the exact sound you are looking for, and then you can save it!

I’ve gotten so caught up in the range of sounds the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier is capable of that I haven’t spent as much time with the Hal Leonard learning system as I planned though I have gone through a couple of the songs. If you are familiar with the Hal Leonard learning systems this one follows their tradition of easy and effective.

Conclusions

Video Tour

I have been thrashing the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier for a few months now and continue to find new sounds it will produce. The duration of the novelty factor alone is worth the $299.00 (8-28-2012) street price but there is way more to this little amp with the big sound. I should add that despite the small appearance the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier is capable of playing way louder than I anticipated and that is without losing clarity. The Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier is just an all-around great amp at an all-around great price.

If you want a learning or practice amp, check out the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier. It’s no Marshall stack but it does sound like one if you want it to. As a second amp the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier is way easier to use than setting up the big stuff. If your playing future is like mine and remains in the office or spare room the Fender G-DEC® 3 Amplifier brings lots of capability without taking up a bunch of space.

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