The Fender G-DEC 3 is a solid practice amplifier for a beginner or professional.
The Fender G-DEC 3 is designed to be the ultimate practice amplifier, which is a pretty big challenge. Practice amps, even good ones, are a dime a dozen these days. If your main goal is to purchase an inexpensive, reliable, and portable amp with some decent sounds, you’ve got a wide array of choices. So, it’s hard to find a product that sets itself apart from the crowd. Fortunately, the folks at Fender know a thing or two about making guitar amplifiers. The G-DEC, which standard for “Guitar Digital Entertainment Center” is a dedicated practice amp that focuses on making good sounds and usable practice tools available to beginning and advanced guitarists alike. Does it succeed? Let’s see.
The G-DEC is available in either a 1×8 15W version or a 1×10 30W version. I opted for the former, since that’s sufficient for my needs with a practice amplifier. The controls and inputs for the G-DEC are pretty simple. There are two 1/4″ guitar inputs (one on the front, one on the back), a USB port (for connecting to your computer), an SD Card slot, an auxiliary input for a CD/mp3 player, and a footswitch input. There’s also a 1/8″ headphone and stereo line out on the front.
The G-DEC contains numerous artist presets and loops that let you change your guitar sound (both the amps and effects) easily to match different genres (rock, blues, jazz, metal) and also use built-in loops that match the style. The onboard SD Card reader lets you play your own mp3 or WAV files if you wish. An onboard phrase sampler with overdub and export is included so that you can play with your own playing on the spot. A built-in chromatic tuner is also included. For the sake of simplicity, controls are kept to a minimum, with volume knobs the guitar, the backing tracks (“Band”), and the overall volume. All other controls for changing the sounds and loops are done through front panel push buttons. Also included is Fender’s own FUSE software that allows you to connect the amp online to download both Fender an user created presets and backing tracks.
Since the G-DEC 3 is one of my main practice amps (along with the Roland Micro Cube), it’s obvious that I think the amp is worthy of your time and money. That’s not to say the G-DEC 3 is perfect (or for everyone). When I’m practicing, I want to focus on my timing, technique, phrasing, etc. I don’t want to worry about my tone. That’s where the G-DEC shines. It contains a number of useful presets in a variety of genres (though they tend to lean towards the metal/shred player a bit too much) and loops. The onboard card reader is a godsend, since I can easily upload my own backing tracks. I play primarily jazz, blues, and classic rock, so I can tailor the tracks to my own needs. The onboard presets, though, are pretty good, and you’ll find presets that nail Eric Johnson, Phil Collen, Brad Paisley, Gary Hoey, Nils Lofgren and others very well. 100 presets and loops are included.
Also included and worth exploring in detail is Fender’s FUSE software that lets you download new presets and loops and adjust your sounds in greater detail. In fact, about the only complaint I have about the G-DEC is that you can’t really modify the sounds on the fly. The easiest way to do so is using the FUSE software. Otherwise, you’ll be scrolling through menus with buttons rather than turning knobs to modify the amps and effects. The controls are easy to use, so don’t be intimidated. Still, it’s not as intuitive as a conventional amplifier, but there’s also less to screw up as well.
The Fender G-DEC 3 is a solid practice amplifier for a beginner or professional. The price is right and the included software makes editing presets a breeze. My only gripe is that the included presets and loops aren’t too balanced; they favor the shred/metal players by far. But given the ease of uploading and changing your own presets, it’s hard to complain. If you want an inexpensive yet great sounding practice amplifier, the G-DEC 3 is a serious contender.
Name of Gear: Fender G-DEC 3 Fifteen
List Price: $399.99
Manufacturer Info: Fender Musical Instruments; fender.com
Pros: Excellent practice amplifier; online connectivity a plus
Cons: Modifying sounds can be time consuming