Frontman 212R 100W review by Fender

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Features: 8
  • Sound: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.9 (56 votes)
Fender: Frontman 212R 100W

Price paid: $ 275

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features — 8
This amp was made about six years ago. It has three foot-switchable channels (Clean, Drive, More Drive) with independent EQ's between the Clean and Drive/More Drive. 100 watts, 2x12 cabinet, reverb, effects loop, all the standard stuff you would expect. One thing about this amp is the weight. It's HEAVY! Seriously. If this thing ever died, I would use it for a boat anchor. For a large boat. Like a battleship. It seriously weighs a LOT! If there was a way to put it on a "diet," I would.

Sound — 10
I play punk, progressive rock, and blues. It isn't the greatest for pure metal, but most Fender amps aren't. If you're looking for an amp for metal, buy a Mesa, a Line 6, a Randall, or a Marshall. That's not to say it can't do metal (More Drive + Mid Scoop button = pretty good metal tone), but it's not what it was necessarily built for. For punk, blues, or even progressive rock, though, it works pretty well. I do use some effects with it (DigiTech RP200, DOD Stereo Chorus), and it plays well with those in the effects loop. I was worried when I got it, because most solid state amps can sound "fuzzy" and "sterile" when overdriven, but this amp is surprisingly warm. I like it enough that all I use the DigiTech multi-effects unit for anymore is some delay and modulation effects through the effects loop. Also, this thing is very, very LOUD! I have to be really careful to not annoy my neighbors with it. What I don't understand is everyone's gripe with the reverb tank, since mine is almost too strong, but I'm not going to complain about that.

Reliability & Durability — 10
I'm very confident that this amp would hold up playing live. I don't crank it a lot, but when I go to jam sessions, it holds up nicely. I get a lot of positive comments about how good it sounds. I've stood on it, spilled beer and pop on it, kicked it, loaded it into car trunks, and it just asks for more. It's like a poor man's Twin Reverb, but without the added fragility of tubes. The tolex cover isn't even showing signs of wear yet, the speakers sound excellent, there's no noise. I did blow a fuse once in it (my own fault, never EVER plug a cable into the effects return with it on and touch the tip!), but even that was, relatively speaking, was easy to change.

Overall Impression — 9
Overall, this is a very good amp, much better than just about any other amp in this price category. Is it a "metal" amp? No. It can do metal, but that's not its strong suit. Can it do blues, punk, hard rock, country, jazz, pop, progressive rock, or just about every other genre you can think of? Yes, and it can do it very well. If it were stolen, I'd find another one and buy it, since this isn't the most expensive amp, and they're really a dime a dozen on eBay. I've had it six years now, and it hasn't let me down yet. Is it perfect? No, but for $275tax, I wasn't asking for perfection. That said, this keeps up with other amps that cost four times as much. I'm very pleased.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    hello ~ I'm a tube amp guy, but I'm not arrogant or snobbish. I play in a power trio, and I paid $100 for the 212 amp so wouldn't have to leave my SF Pro-Reverb at the rehearsal place unattended and worrying about it. What I discovered is an amp that has pretty good tone, and lot's of power. Not enough power evidently cause I typically run it wide open. That said, let me say that these amps are not at all bullet-proof. I've had to resolder the speaker leads, and touch up a number of cold solder joints in an effort to keep the thing operational. Unlike most of you, I find the drive function to be completely useful. I use it about half the time. I like the way it looks, but I'd never rely on it at a gig; it's just too prone to unpredictable behavior.
    Mine has been rock-solid. Seriously, haven't had a single problem other than when I blew a fuse in it, and that was my own stupidity that caused that (never ever EVER plug a cable into the effects loop return with the amp on and the cable not plugged into anything else, then touch the cable. I thought I had killed the amp!). Maybe I just got an exceptional unit, maybe I'm just lucky, but it's been very reliable for me over the last few years. Granted, I would love to get a good tube amplifier, I really miss my old Fender Blues Junior, but this amp, especially with a good overdrive in front of it (I'm running a Behringer VT999 Tube Monster with a Mesa 12AT7), is very, very good.