FM 212 DSP review by Fender

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.5 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.5 (40 votes)
Fender: FM 212 DSP

Price paid: $ 225

Purchased from: Used Music Store

Sound — 9
So far I've played it with my Fender 72 Deluxe Reissue, Epiphone Les Paul and Ovation Celebrity acoustic. The only thing I've found annoying is that playing the acoustic through the amp on the "acoustic" settings generates a kind of cracking/popping sound when attacking a chord. I've read other reviews that mention this same anomaly but I didn't get this amp to be an acoustic amp but it would have been cool to be able to use that feature. With the cleaner settings, the amp is very clear and strong. I mostly play clean and use pedals for distortion so I've not really messed with getting a dirty sound via the amp alone that much. A lot of the best sound comes if you can turn it up a bit and play with the gain, but with this sucker, it is hard to do that much before the neighbors start to complain. Something that took a while to get used to was the fact that when you switch amp model types, you really have to adjust the other settings too to get the right sound for that amp type. You can't just have all the knobs where you want them and switch amp types expecting a great sound. You must tweak the other individual settings for whatever amp type you are using to get the best sound. This is a little frustrating because if you want to use multiple amp types often, you must constantly tweak the other settings as well- no "set it and forget it". I've found a couple of amps types I like (a British and HOT Rod model) and usually don't deviate from those two- one channel for each. The effects are fine but I typically just add a bit of reverb (or nothing at all) and let my pedals handle the effects. The variety of sounds you can get from this amp is nearly infinite and that's great if you like to experiment and play around but for practical purposes, you will probably find a couple of amp sounds you really like and stick with those- using pedals primarily for adding your coloration.

Overall Impression — 10
I play blues and rock mostly and this is more than suitable for that. If it were stolen or lost, I would be disappointed because I know Fender no longer makes this specific model and I would not be able to get something with this much power and versatility for such a low price (probably why they quit making them- they were too good for the money). However, I would try to get another, if I could get it for under $250 or so. Just as a basic amp that you can line an effects pedal board directly into and have that much power is worth it to me - even if I never use all the other many features. Just being able to use it as a basic 100 watt powered 2x12 cabinet with my board is awesome in itself - that is probably what I like best about it. To be sure, this is NOT a top-line Fender tube amp but it is also NOT going to cost you $500 or more. The raw, solid state power and ability to model some cool amps (though not perfectly) is well worth what I paid for it. I chose it mainly for the fact that it is a Fender, it is POWERFUL and it was not expensive. Also for the fact that I can use it in virtually any situation. If you can find one for under $250 and have the same needs as I, get it. You will be glad you did.

Reliability & Durability — 10
This thing was used, sounds great and there is no evidence that it has never been repaired. Being a Fender, I would expect it hold up well and I do not feel compelled to lug a second backup amp to a gig if I'm using this. With my pedal board, I can always run straight into the PA if I have to.

Features — 9
This is one of the earlier models of the solid state combos with built in amp modeling and on-board effects. It has 100 watts of power and two 12" speakers. I was looking for an inexpensive (but not cheap) I could use for home practice/noodling, band rehearsals and small to medium size venue gigging without the need to mic or line-out for volume's sake. This amp totally meets those needs for sure. It was not expensive, it is very loud and versatile enough to do whatever I might need it for and then some. It has two channels that can be set identically (one isn't necessarily clean or dirty by default). I found this very helpful for fine-tuning settings because you can get a sound you like on one channel, duplicate the settings on the other and tweek one while switching back and forth to hear the difference. It can use a foot switch for channel switching though mine didn't come with one. It has pre-amp out which lets you run big cabinets off of it if you want. The power-in line allows you to bypass all the modeling and settings and run a stand-alone effects pedal board straight into it (not through the guitar line in) and use it basically as just the raw power amp and speakers while all your effects are on the pedal board (I use a Line 6 Floor POD Plus and it works great). This is nice if you depend on your effects board and don't have any need for the effects on the amp (which are ok but if you are serious about effects, you have pedals anyway). In my situation, the effects on the pedal board and the amp are largely redundant and the ones on the board are better, more versatile and easier to access quickly. It also has a headphone jack but this would deprive the neighbors the enjoyment of your magnificent talent.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I'm trying to compare the Fender FM212 DSP with the Frontman 212R and the Champion 100. Does anyone have any information or experience with this? Thanks.
    I picked one of these up a couple years back for $175 - honestly I haven't played through an amp for 15 yrs...but I really do like this amp & am about to blow the dust off it as I'm finally going to do some gigs w/trio or 4 pc(been solo w/laptop & bose L1 system for years)The variety of sounds are great to have, today I'm gonna attempt the loop on it to bypass all & use HD500 fx only OR my VL3 - so many toys