Once you plug in, the Greta is most comfortable delivering clean, subdued tones
that won’t wake the family or neighbors.
And it’s in these lowest reaches of the amp’s
volume range that you also hear the most
tube character. Lowering the tone control
also helps enormously on this front, and
a Stratocaster or Telecaster at these levels
will sound great and surprisingly rich for
jangling arpeggios and Mark Knopfler- or
Richard Thompson-style leads that benefit
from middle or out-of-phase pickup positions and a roll off of the guitar’s tone. Set
up this way, the Greta is perfect for recording demos or deliberately lo-fi applications.
Despite its tube circuit, the Greta runs
up against its biggest shortcomings at more
aggressive volume and tone settings. When
pushed, the 4" speaker tends to break up in a
manner that most players probably won’t find
appealing, and it gets downright harsh with
both volume and tone controls wide open
and a bridge pickup selected. If you move
to your neck pickup and roll back the tone,
it’s possible to get some pretty cool Randy
California-like, super-compressed and muffled
lead tones that will actually record pretty well.
However, chording at these settings tends to
yield a less-than-pleasant sludge unless you’re
Line and speaker outputs
working at very slow tempos with more open
jazz voicings. The amp definitely sounds better through an external cabinet, and it will
drive any 8-ohm cab—though the tones will
still be of the very lo-fi variety.
Most players do not expect a practice
amp to sound like a Princeton, but even
with the lower expectations this product
category instills, many players are likely to
see Greta’s nearly $200 street price as rather
steep. Like any practice amp, she does have
tones that will reward adventurous play-
ers—especially in studio situations. But
she also never quite realizes the potential
implied by her tube circuitry. Which is a
shame, because there are other small amps
on the market that will do the job for sig-
nificantly less cash—even if they’re a lot less
fun to look at.
Pros: Imaginative package for a practice amp.
Fender Pawn Shop Series Greta, $199 street, fender.com
Cons: Few useful tones for anyone but lo-fi junkies.
Some low-quality materials. Expensive.
Ease of Use