Frontman 212R 100W review by Fender

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  • Features: 7
  • Sound: 7
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7.3 Good
  • Users' score: 7.9 (56 votes)
Fender: Frontman 212R 100W

Price paid: £ 100

Purchased from: Private

Features — 7
I don't know when this was made but it was made in China and I'd be surprised if it was ten years old. It has a clean channel and a drive channel which can be boosted via the footswitch, There's bass treble and mid on the clean and a shared eq between the two switchable drive settings which includes a mid scoop type button named as "contour." FX loop on front panel. Presentation is good with traditional fender styling and speakers badged up as Fender. The amp is extremely light even for a solid state.

Sound — 7
I can get a good clean country sound out of it on the clean channel but it wont "bite" or sound nicely driven even at high volume without a pedal. It does a decent jangle and takes a chorus pedal well, so it's easy to get a Johnny Marr type sound. The bareness and lack of even a slight bite makes it hard for me to approach playing blues on it, though a very skilled player might get something decent out of it. Deals with my humbuckers well but my single coils sound a little thin. Overall the clean channel is approaching a good old Fender valve amp, it's not as good but it's a great way of approaching learning to use and work with the Fender clean tone considering the money.

Drive channel is passable but from AC/DC type distortion onwards, I personally found it unworkable, I couldn't make it sound convincing. It'll give you a bit of an SRV sound for the quicker stuff and the riffing but getting the feedback nice and warm like on a Fender valve amp will take a lot of work. Metallers should maybe forget about this amp unless they intend to use a lot of effects through the clean channel but be warned, this amp is BRIGHT so you'll need to mess about with the eq's on your multi-fx. I'm still working on that one.

For what it is and what it cost though, I'm ok with it. If I want metal I have a Randall and this "Frontman" does have the Fender sound in shovels full and like I said it's a great way to learn what can be done with a Fender amp for a beginner or a great bit of nostalgia for someone like me, playing 30 years on and off that's just started practicing again.

Reliability & Durability — 8
It's solid state and the build quality seems ok, so I kind of trust it not to fall to bits any time soon. Every now and the tightening the screws on the amp mounting will stop a lot of problems with vibrations by the way.

Overall Impression — 7
I play old fashioned hard rock, '70s British glam, '80s American glam, blues, pop, easy listening, country and a bit of avant-garde. I've been playing about thirty years on and off. This amp on clean is ok for country lead, pop rhythms and easy listening leads (cheat jazz the way I try it). The drive channel I find ok for rapid Texas blues styles and kranky buzz saw '70s glam rythm and soloing. I'd be nervous playing a slow blues that needed warm valve feedback but a better player might pull it off, seems almost there but not quite, a little thin perhaps. If it were stolen, I'd look for a Fender valve amp because this amp has done a nice job of re-introducing me to what Fender amps are about but it does have limitations. As I said though, for the price, it's great.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    An example of the tone you can get with this amp if you're willing to be patient and tweak the knobs a bit:
    Only effects are a DOD FX65 Stereo Chorus and a Digitech RP200 for delay effects. Overdrive is the "Drive", solo is "More Drive".