Frontman 212R 100W review by Fender

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.9 (56 votes)
Fender: Frontman 212R 100W

Price paid: $ 500

Sound — 8
The sound on the clean channel is superb. I think it is the best sounding clean channel I've heard aside from all-tube Fenders I've played. Now, I am a Fender amp nut, so I'm partial obviously. On the other hand, the Drive channel isn't that great. It can be used for a crunch to a mellow bluesy overdrive just fine, but past 6 on the knobb it starts to get really harsh and muddy. I compliment it with a Boss overdrive/distortion pedal and get really great results though. The boost channel isn't very smooth, but does boost the volume a lot. But again, if you already have the overdrive set high than the boost will only take it into total screachy mayhem territory. I mainly rely on the Boss pedal for more gain. The other problem is the treble isn't nearly good enough for most hard rock. I think the makers voiced this for a strat and I play a much less tinny PRS. Maybe with a strat it's just right, but for my mahogany humbucker guitar it sounds a little lacking. Again, the Boss pedal allows me to tweek in some extra treble and the final result is just awesome anyway. Finally the reverb tank just downright sucks. It is weak. But a replacement is simple. However since I don't use much reverb I haven't felt the need. I have to mark down to 8 because of the drawbacks of the Drive channel and reverb. But if you add a good pedal, this can be a centerpiece in a badass rig. As for the volume, man is this thing loud. And plently of headroom, while still allowing for a little crunch if you use a guitar with hot pickups. With my PRS If I'm at rehearsal volume I have to roll a tad off the volume for total clean. But with a hollowbody I have with softer pickups, I never get any crunch at all until the thing is just too loud to be in the same room with. By then the hollowbody with feedback uncontrollably anyway.

Overall Impression — 9
I think it is an excellent value and has reaffirmed by believe that Fender makes the best amps around. Combined with a couple of good pedals and this baby can sound incredible in a variety of styles. Not the best for metal, but for anything from jazz to blues to hard rock it does great. Finally, I really dig Fender's classic looks. Makes me feel like I'm playing a Vintage tube amp from the 60s.

Reliability & Durability — 10
It's tough as hell. Nothing wrong has happened to it and I gig all the time with it. I don't see why anyone would bring a backup amp to a gig. It has really solid input jacks, a sturdy burch frame and general Fender quality (as for their amps, I actually dislike their guitars). The fact that it is solid state makes it inherently reliable. This, and the price factor, is why I got a solid state in the first place. Having previously owned a DeVille, I thought this would be a serious step down, but in reality it isn't all that different. Yes, a tube amp will sound better, but it will be much less reliable and for me, there are so many other factors that contribute to a musician's sound other than the amp, that I chose for reliability of the tube's single and solitary benefit.

Features — 9
Made in China, don't know what year. The amp has two channels, one clean and another overdrive with a boost on the footswitch, and independent 3-band tone controls and vol. It has a master reverb that isn't that great but useable. 100W of power that in practical terms are loud as hell. two 12" speakers made by Fender. Total sold state. I give it a 9 because the reverb isn't that great. Also, it doesn't have an external speaker out. This is instalable though.

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I play through this amp now. Great clean channel. The OD channel (And boost) are useless. Run any effects through the clean channel, and this thing is a beast.
    mr pinch
    humbuckers sound great on fender solid state amps to me. relaces the lack of mid-range from the amp.
    I have this and on the basic level its ****ing useless but jam all the pedals and effects you want in it and its pretty damn good.
    I had this amp for a time and I can honestly say this was the worst amp I've ever played. Big loud and flat toned.
    Had one once upon a time, I wanted a cheap combo I could take to small band practices since I couldn't fit my head and cab into my car. So I got this, and I can only say it was a waste of money. The cleans were usable but fizzy (as one would expect a cheap solidstate amp to be). Decent pedalboat, but saying "it sounds like crap, but it gets better if you schllop 10 effects on top of it" isn't really a positive. The OD channel was horrid for everything. Everything. It EQ'd horribly and always had a layer of fizz on top of it no matter what you did. Basically, I sold this to an unsuspecting beginner guitarist over Craigslist as soon as I could.
    it sounds like shit unless you add some of your personal effects to it, like epiexplorer said. i modified my circuit board and now it sounds beautiful
    10....yep....cause we all know this is better than *insert any random better sounding tube amp*.....
    A good blues tone on a solid,my codlings...I have one and since I paid just under 200$(used) I'm happy with it.
    Decent "honest" sounds, but the speaker cone in mine ripped within half a week. Could have just been a bad one of course though
    I tried this at a music store, and i have to say... what a monstrosity. I'm glad i went with a Super Champ XD, a real tube sound (well, its hybrid) thats the same price brand new...
    Honestly I cant believe you paid 500. I paid 300 brand new for mine. I've beat this thing to shit with all the gigging I've done and the only problem I've had with it so far is that just before my first gig with it the fender speakers went out. But it allowed me to then replace them with vintage 30's. With those the amp sounds better and as well increased volume. With stock speakers I would be around 6, now I'm barely above 2. I'd rather have a true tube amp head and cab, but for the money its not bad. The clean is nice enough for me. I stay away from the overdrive channels and the onboard reverb. I just run all my pedals through the clean channel, and its worked reliably for me. I'd say decent overall, but if you have the money to spend, there are better amps out there.
    If an amp can't stand alone, tone-wise, then it isn't worth the effort. A really good amp shouldn't have to rely on effects to get a usable tone. A turd sandwich is still a turd sandwich. You can add the best condiments and put it on the best bread and it'll still be a turd at the center. Bon appetit.
    Nick Curleo
    Not sure what everyone is complaining about, I'm pretty happy with mine. Had it for just over a year now, and no problems other than the piss stain on the speaker cover from when a family of raccoons moved into my garage. Still sounds great though.
    I would not have one! You can't expect that much for $300 new in the box. I give it a 5..their are better amps out there. Too run of the mill common.
    Meh... I picked the Super Champ XD instead for $300... It's a real tube amp and has great "voices" which are DSP renderings of other famous amp models (Vox, Marshall, Mesa-Boogie) With the 200 I saved I could get a nice cab and run it through that... SSS S olid S tate S ucks...