With its Hostess cupcake looks, sweet tones, and practical feature set, this portable acoustic combo is a tasty treat for singer-songwriters on the move.
Big, loud sound that accommodates vocals and guitar nicely.
Quality digital effects.
Kickstand greatly aids projection.
Plenty of input/output options.
MGT-4 foot switch sold separately.
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One of the most exciting revolutions in acoustic amplification is the battery-powered movement, and the latest milestone on that thrilling adventure toward tonal freedom is Fender’s Acoustic Junior GO.
Portability is a huge part of the acoustic guitar’s appeal, so the notion of having an über-portable amp to bolster modern troubadour tones makes all the sense in the world.
The GO operates on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that Fender claims operates for five hours at top volume, or 12 at moderate volume. It also features a built-in looper, digital stereo effects, a USB record output, Bluetooth pairing, and universal voltage for global use.
The Junior GO shares cosmetics with the other new additions to Fender’s Acoustic range, including the standard Acoustic Junior ($379) and the expansive Acoustic SFXII ($599). The aesthetic is kind of like a Hostess cupcake, incorporating a few rich brown hues with frosting-white letters and graphics on top.
The cabinet is crowned with an old-fashioned leather handle and features a newfangled kickstand recessed under the bottom, which provides a slight backward tilt. I can’t recall anything quite like it, but all amps should have it. The top panel layout is clear and concise, with knobs recessed for protection.
Two identical channels are separated by identical sets of effects LEDs, a Bluetooth pair button, and a little looper section. Its three buttons are a bit small to be useful for something as tricky as hand-operated looping, which is practically impossible in the first place. Push the handle all the way down for best possible access to the looper buttons.
The MGT-4 foot switch is required but, unfortunately, not included, and it streets for about 65 bucks. It makes the onboard 90-second looper far more practical, scrolls through both sets of eight effects, and provides a tuner, so it’s well worth having.
The looper is global and makes it possible to loop vocals in addition to extra guitar parts. The cabinet is made of very lightweight plywood and sounds surprisingly good. Long-term durability may be of concern, so a protective jacket for the textured vinyl–covered little lovely seems in order too.
There is nothing junior about the GO’s tone. It boasts a big, full, and surprisingly loud sound that doesn’t squash when strummed with authority, or go “pop” when it’s accompanied by an authoritative vocal. Such quality is unheard of in an amp this size and price class. It’s impressive how the technology grows literally from year to year.
My primary test instrument was a Taylor 514ce equipped with a Fishman Prefix system. Vocal tests came courtesy of a Sennheiser e835. The Fender delivered a round, robust tone for both. One might even call it a “brown” sound, meaning warm and woolly, not strident or poking out in the middle.
The EQ curve seems to have a bit of a built-in smile, but it’s easy enough to boost the mids to make them more prominent when desired. Digital effects sound pleasing, and the factory-set parameters are practical. Stereo effects are mixed to mono within the box, as its speaker configuration is one eight-inch driver plus a compression tweeter.
I appreciate the quivering Vibratone effect for being rather unique on an acoustic amp, and it sounds especially watery in stereo though the headphones or via the very useful dual XLR outputs into a P.A.
For those who want to plug in and pluck away with a buddy, or add some vocal accompaniment, the Junior Acoustic GO is designed with you in mind. Its luxurious tone, onboard looper, bountiful I/O, and spacious effects also make it a fabulous solo gig partner.
The USB record output means you can go straight from the GO into a computer without an additional interface. The amp is surprisingly powerful, as all of its 100 watts are actually useable without significant distortion.
Weighing in at a mere 17 pounds, standing one-foot tall, and being nearly cubical makes the GO easy to dash and stash. All that acoustic-electric goodness jammed into such a potent portable package at a reasonable price makes the Fender Acoustic Junior GO worthy of an Editors’ Pick Award.
- PRICE: $499 street
- CHANNELS: Two
- CONTROLS: Both channels: knobs for volume, FX level, FX select, low, mid, high; phase switch
- EFFECTS: Identical set for each channel: room reverb, hall reverb, echo, delay, chorus, vibratone, delay + chorus, delay + reverb. Global looper with buttons for record/overdub, play/stop, undo
- CONNECTIVITY: Combination1/4”/XLR input with phantom power.1/8” aux line-level stereo input, 1/8” stereo phones out, foot-switch, XLR out right; XLR out left with buttons for mono/stereo and ch1-or-ch2 or ch2 + ch1
- EXTRAS: Micro USB record out. Recover and firmware update buttons. Ground/lift button
- POWER: 100 watts
- SPEAKER: 8” driver and 1” compression tweeter
- WEIGHT: 17 lbs
- BUILT: China
- CONTACT: Fender
Jimmy Leslie has been Frets editor since 2016. See many Guitar Player- and Frets-related videos on his YouTube channel, and learn about his acoustic/electric rock group at spirithustler.com.