Hands-On Review:Fender’s Family of G-DEC Amplifiers

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A G-DEC for every guitarist


Every guitarist I know is a bit of a gear junkie. Sure, I know a few  who really don’t get caught up in the whole “my guitar hero played my  favorite lick through this certain stompbox and if I could just get that stompbox I could nail that lick” game, but they’re weirdos, and I avoid  them. It’s like communicating with an alien, talking guitars with those  guys.


I will admit, however, there are times when simplicity is better.  Mostly when it comes time to practice or jam alone at home. It’s nice to  be able to just sit down with your guitar, plug into one piece  of gear, and enjoy some quality playing time without too much hassle.  And that’s exactly why Fender created the G-DEC—the Guitar Digital  Entertainment Center.


The concept of the G-DEC is to be an all-in-one, easy-to-use groove  box. It packs amp modeling, DSP effects, a drum machine, MIDI synth, and  phrase sampler into one combo amp. It’s set up to be your own personal  backing band, ready-and-waiting for you to step up and play. It’s  shockingly easy to get busy rockin’. In fact, the G-DEC worked so well  and became so popular Fender soon decided to introduce a few more G-DEC  models to complement the original and offer guitarists of different  stripes a ’DEC more customized to their needs. Now there are four  G-DECs: the original G-DEC, the G-DEC Exec, the G-DEC 30, and the latest addition to the family, the G-DEC Junior.


The original


The first G-DEC was a real eye opener. It gave guitarists a true plug-and-play practice  and jamming unit in an easy-to-move, single-channel 15W combo amp with  an 8" speaker. A powerful DSP synth engine delivers 100 Performance  Presets: 50 from the factory, and 50 for you to set up yourself. Each  Performance Preset is made up of a guitar sound with an amp model and  effects, drum beat, bass line, and accompaniment instruments like  keyboard or organ. The Performance Presets are organized around musical  genres, so you can play reggae, jazz, blues, country, swing, funk, and  hip-hop.


When you first select a preset with the big Data Wheel on the LCD  screen, it’s just the guitar tone by itself. You press the START button  to get the groove going and the jamming comes pretty effortlessly—it’s  that easy. Sit down, plug in, select a preset, and hit play. The LCD  clearly and conveniently gives you information such as the beats per  minute and key, as well as giving you a nice interface for customizing  the presets to fit your individual taste or style. Being able to set up  your own presets is a huge help for working on riffs, chord  progressions, leads, or even scales and arpeggios. There’s a headphone  jack so you can jam in private, and a second input lets your friends  play, too.


An onboard phrase sampler gives you 14 seconds of recording time with  tempo control and an auto-loop feature. With the sampler you can record  your own licks or record a section of a song to learn, which is easy to  do with the RCA inputs. Connect your CD or MP3 player and play it  straight into the phrase sampler. A MIDI port lets you download updates  and allows you to stream MIDI files to play along with.


Fender G-DEC Family
Fender G-DEC Family

The executive suite


The G-DEC Exec was the next ’DEC out of the box. It takes the brain and brawn of the G-DEC and wraps them in stylish cosmetics that easily fit into surroundings  more upscale than say, the bedroom or garage. It has all the standard  G-DEC features plus a sublime three-color sunburst maple cabinet,  deep-colored oxblood grille cloth, and deluxe padded cover.


Rocket power


With the G-DEC 30, more is the name of the game. Introduced along with the B-DEC (the DEC for bass players), the G-DEC 30 gives guitarists more of everything they loved about the original,  including power (30W instead of 15W), speaker (10" instead of 8"), and  sounds (more amp models, effects, and backing tracks). Another key  feature of the G-DEC 30 is a more advanced phrase sampler that supports a composition mode, has  28 seconds of sample time, and an overdub feature. The extra power and  sounds mean you can take the G-DEC to band rehearsals and jams and not  get blown off the stage. And the extended phrase sampler capabilities  turn the G-DEC from a jamming machine into a respectable tool for  guitarists who want a songwriting buddy as well. If you’re into keeping  your hands free, the ULT-4 Footswitch is a smart investment for your G-DEC 30.  This 4-button footswitch gives you mode select function; start and stop  of backing tracks and phrase samples; program select; and tuner select.


Junior G, man


The littlest member of the G-DEC clan is the G-DEC Junior.  In spite of the Junior tag, it has just as much power as its pop, the  G-DEC—15W through an 8" speaker. However, its cabinet is a little  smaller and lighter. The main thing Fender has done is make the  operation of the G-DEC as simple as possible while keeping all the  essentials that make each of the ’DECs so much fun. There are still  Performance Presets in all the musical styles (rock, blues, country,  metal, pop, hip hop, jazz, reggae, etc.), 16 amp models, and 15 effects,  all of which are selected by their own amp-style control knob instead  of an LCD screen. You also get Gain, Volume, and Tone controls for basic  control of your guitar signal; and Loop Volume, Tempo, Key Select, and a  Start/Stop controls for manipulating the Performance Presets. While you  sacrifice a little control, this setup is very intuitive and laughably  easy to use. It should be particularly appealing for those guitarists  who don’t like sorting through menu options on LCD screens, or someone  who just doesn’t need the phrase sampler or customizable options of the  regular G-DEC.


The best part of the G-DEC family is their value. Take a look through the features of each one and check  out their very friendly prices. They’re a phenomenal deal with sweet  sounds, an impressive amount of tweakability, and are easily twice as  much fun as any other amp you’ve ever owned. Guitarists of every level  will have fun with their own G-DEC.


Features & Specs


  • 15W power
  • 8" Fender Special Design speaker
  • One channel with dual inputs (instructor setup)
  • Headphone jack
  • Easy preset navigation
  • Tones from Heavy Metal to Jazz to Punk to Country
  • Selectable drum beats, bass lines, and other instruments
  • 70 preset drum loops and metronome
  • 100 Performance Presets (50 factory, 50 user)
  • 17 amp models
  • 29 studio-quality effects
  • 10 reverbs
  • Each preset includes a drum loop, bass line, amp tone, and effects
  • LCD screen
  • Controllable tempo
  • Internal synth with MIDI
  • Lots of effects
  • Guitar tuner
  • Internal phrase sampler with line in and slow down
  • Future software upgrades loaded via MIDI
  • Shoulder strap for easy carrying
  • Black Tolex with silver grille cloth
  • 16 lbs.
  • 15-1/2"W x 13-1/2"H x 7"D

G-DEC Executive:

  • Cosmetically upgraded G-DEC
  • Sunburst maple cabinet
  • Oxblood grille cloth
  • Deluxe padded cover

G-DEC 30:

  • 30W power
  • 10" Special Design speaker
  • Teacher input on rear panel
  • Easy recall of guitar tones
  • Special effects
  • 85 preset drum loops plus metronome
  • 100 Performance Presets (50 factory, 50 user)
  • Special Composition Mode
  • Internal synthesizer with MIDI
  • MIDI song file storage
  • Guitar tuner
  • CD or MP3 device input
  • 28-second Phrase Sampler with overdubs
  • Future software upgrades loaded via MIDI
  • Optional footswitch allows remote access to select features
  • Left and Right line outputs with speaker-emulation
  • External speaker output
  • 19.5 lbs.
  • 17"W x 15-3/4"H x 8-1/4"D

G-DEC Junior:

  • 15W
  • 8" speaker
  • 16 amp types
  • 15 effects presets
  • 15 drum and bass accompaniment loops
  • 14 different keys
  • Drum-sound-only setting
  • Tempo from 30-240BPM
  • Independent volume for guitar and loop volume
  • MIDI port
  • CD or MP3 player input
  • Headphone jack
  • 15 lbs.
  • 13-1/4"W x 12-1/2"H x 7-1/4"D