FM 212R review by Fender

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  • Sound: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.4 (251 votes)
Fender: FM 212R
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Price paid: $ 300

Sound — 7
The clean sound is really good, probably the best I've ever heard from a solid state amp and better than many tube amps. The only exceptions to that would be a Roland Jazz Chorus or Fender Jazz King, both which cost way more so not comparable. Clean it sounds full, warm, punchy and articulate. It really does the Fender name justice in this category. But the dirty channel really really sucks. In fact, I bought a tube amp to replace it and now A/B the two for the best of both worlds. That amp is a British voiced Laney that sounds wonderful dirty but clean not even close to as nice as the Fender, which really illustrates my point. Often a great dirty amp sucks clean and viceversa. Other than that the Fender has a so so reverb. It works ok on about 3-5 but is very subtle. After that it sounds like you're playing in a tunnel, so pretty bad. But unless you play surf music or something that needs loads of reverb, this should be just fine, just don't expect that magical Fender reverb on their higher end amps. As for pedals, it takes them well enough without strange results like pops, crackles and the like, but dirt pedals sound terrible with it. Now this has been my experience with any solid state amp really. I kinda hate dirt pedals in general, so I suppose this is just my opinion, but I wouldn't recommend confiding in if you get this to cover your clean sounds and just get a stompbox for dirt you'll be covered. You'd sound amateur at best. Finally this amp has some serious headroom. I've never had to put the vol. over 5. I play it with two guitars, a PRS with a DiMarzio Super Distortion bridge pup, a really HOT pickup, and it only breaks up ever so slightly at vol. 5. With my Ibanez hollowbody that has really soft pups, it never breaks up, just gets louder.

Overall Impression — 8
I recommend this amp if you only want a good cleans amp. Combined with a separate amp for dirty you can have an awesome rig for a relatively small price, which is what I did and I am happy. But if you play rock, for instance, and want this as your single choice, skip it. All things considered, it really is faithful to the Fender tradition: great cleans, sucky overdrive.

Reliability & Durability — 10
It is strong as an ox. I've taken it all over the place and it hasn't failed in the least. It might be made in China but I find that is not the most important detail any more. My Laney, for instance, also made in China, has failed already after only a month of owning it. This Fender has had not problems.

Features — 7
Made in China, don't know when. This solid state amp isn't very versatile, since it really is only for cleans. Two channels, one clean one dirty, each with their own 3-band eqs and independent vol. master reverb. Effects Loop, comes with footswitch. No headphone jack or speaker out.

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    freddyp3
    This is a very comprehensive post on the Fender Frontman 212R. I have written several articles on this amplifier, and by reading your article, I can tell that you are well versed on this topic. Continue to provide us with great information about our gear. Hey guys, check out my site which is also gear towards unbiased reviews about the music gear that we purchase. www.myownmusicgear.com
    freddyp3
    freddyp3 wrote: This is a very comprehensive post on the Fender Frontman 212R. I have written several articles on this amplifier, and by reading your article, I can tell that you are well versed on this topic. Continue to provide us with great information about our gear. Hey guys, check out my site which is also gear towards unbiased reviews about the music gear that we purchase. http://myownmusicgear.com
    ADR65
    I find the Frontman 212 a great amp, the clean is superb, it needs the bass control up a bit
    craigstu
    Just bought two frontmans to go with my RP 350 processor,they really crank,i just play the clean channel through the amps and let the processor do the rest with the rectifier , awesome sound !!!