Price paid: $ 150
Purchased from: small local store
Sound — 9
This is designed to be a clean sounding Fender amp reminiscent of the old reverb amps. It has a great clean sound but will distort once taken above the recommended volume "3". The distortion channel is a good overdrive/fuzz sound, somewhat classic sounding and can handle 80's metal to some extent, but sounds best for classic rock and blues. This is NOT a modern metal or high gain amp and was never meant to be one. This is a classic voiced practice amp that can handle small gigs. For the folks Who wanted a high gain amp or stack and got this amp, don't blame the amp if you're pissed. It works best with single coils or classic humbuckers, unless you want a raunchy 80's metal sound. The amp came with some setting recommendations, like Gain = 0 and Volume = 10 for a very bluesy tone, or Gain = 10 and Volume = 2 for what they called "barbed wire". The recommendations rarely had the treble or mids above 5. There are many cool tones in this amp and it handles modeling pedals well as long as you tweak the tone to adjust for it's bright nature.
Overall Impression — 8
I was originally looking for amps that had built in effects but the store owner didn't stock those anymore because the models changed every 6 months and he'd be stuck with older stock no one wanted. He ALWAYS stocked the Frontman series because of their durability and great classic tone. Since buying it in 1997, I've tried other amps to see if I'm missing out on anything and ended up getting a DigiTech RP50 for the effects and for a small portable unit I can take with me. I mostly play classic rock, blues, and older style metal and this amp does it all. The reverb is deep sounding and has the typical POP when you turn off the amp as the capacitor discharges. If it was lost or stolen, I'd definitely consider getting another Frontman, but probably a lower watt model. This thing is too loud for my setup.
Reliability & Durability — 10
It's lasted 12 years and going. This is a practice amp so I wouldn't gig with it. Some folks say it hums or gets very noisy. Mine used to hum but I found a fix for it at guitarnuts.com that involved properly shielding the guitar. Wouldn't you know it, the hum disappeared. It was a cheap guitar too, and the shielding was achieved with regular old aluminum foil from the grocery store. Since then, I've gotten a better guitar that was properly shielded and still no hum.
Features — 7
I got this amp in '97, so it's from the first series. As has been said, 2 channels, reverb, headphone/line out, speaker out, footswitch jack. It was part of a package that had headphones and a footswitch. According to the schematics, it's rated 25W at volume "3" and has 75W total capacity, so 25W RMS. The volume knob is sensitive and gets a big jump in volume from just under "1" to just above "1" on the volume knob. Sometimes, I get volume with the knob at "0", but it is 12 years old at this point.