Frontman 212R 100W review by Fender

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  • Features: 7
  • Sound: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 6
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 7.5 Good
  • Users' score: 7.9 (56 votes)
Fender: Frontman 212R 100W

Price paid: € 200

Features — 7
This amp was made in China but I don't know the year. It has a clean and an overdrive channel with a "more drive" option that's not great in my opinion, but we'll talk about that later. Those 3 modes are switchable through a footswitch provided with the amp. The cones are connected to the amp directly so you don't have the possibility to use the speakers as a cabinet with another amp as well as you can't connect this amp to another cabinet. There's also the reverb effect that I all I say is that they could have made it better.

Sound — 8
It's a solid state amp so you won't get the sound of a fender all tube obviously but I got really impressed, especially by the clean channel is very clear and warm. The overdrive channel is a little less impressing but it's still good for the price, but if you're planning to use it a lot I recommend to buy a pedal for the distortion, and if you play metal you must buy one. Because I think the solution that Fender's engineers found for the Metal sound was the "more dive" channel but it was simply unusable to me because of the noise it makes even when you're not touching the cords. It may be because of my Stratocaster's single coils (I haven't had any issue with those before), but I assure you that the noise almost covered the sound! There's also a problem with the volume: it absolutely lacks of sensitivity it'll sound loud anyway.

Reliability & Durability — 6
When you see this massive amp you think it'll never die, at least that's what I thought. I used it with my band a couple times like 4 months ago and it worked just fine, now and it hasn't leaved home since then. But one night suddenly it broke, I stopped hearing the sound and all it emitted was a continuous loud noise, I don't know what happened and I don't want to know, for me this was just a temporary accommodation. Now I'm going to use it as a cabinet for my new tube head (after having done some wiring work). I think mine is an isolated case but I really can't give more then a 6 for reliability and durability.

Overall Impression — 9
When I had to choose an amp for this price I had no doubt, I went straight to this one, and I would do it again if you ask. In this price range I tried the Marshall MG100 (the combo) and all I can say is that it is more expensive and it sounds definitely worse (with the cleans there's no match at all). The lack of sensitivity in the volume makes it not perfect for home usage but if you have the right neighbours you can also afford to play it at home. So, in the end the Fender Frontman 212R comes at a very affordable price and sounds really nice and I'd recommend it to anyone.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I had mine for over a year now and I can seriously say... it rocks! Yes, agreed... the drive channel and reverb are pretty average to say the least, no argument there... now the clean channel... that's another story... it is very good. Over the years I owned and tried/tested a wide range of amps (both, tube and SS) and I have to say I finally found my tone plus it didn't cost me a small fortune and, I'm very happy with it. I use a Boss FRV1 Reverb and a Boss BD2 Blues Driver to get the sound I always wanted. I could rattle on about tube vs. Solid and ra ra ra... I'm just quite content with my 212R and my tone... nuff sed...
    I just replaced the Reverb Tank on my Frontman... what a difference! Turn the dial to about 2 and I get the same reverb I used to get with the original on max... On about 4 I get a fairly decent sound, almost as warm as the FRV-1 I've been using. After a bit of tweaking the Bass, Mid and Treble and both channels and roll down the Tones on the guitar I can now go from a nice clean to a bluesy sound without using my BD-2 and FRV-1... The aim here is two fold... I'm not wealthy, I do not have the income to indulge in expensive gear... yes I could Lay-by, borrow, save or just use my Mastercard... that is not the aim... I don't want to rely on expensive amps and guitars to make me a better bluesman... I am who I am and I am where am at, this is the gear I have and I'm making the most of it...
    I should've mention the tank is an Accutronics 4EB3C1B... and... I totally reckon this unit has really changed the tonal characteristics of this amp...