Whether jamming in the garage or gigging around town, the Fender Frontman 212R is an amazing deal on a powerful tone machine. Fender's legacy for reliable amps with incredible sound is brought to this 100-watt wonder, which includes many of the same features of its bigger brothers in the Fender guitar amp line. With dual 12-inch drivers churning out 100 watts of solid-state power, the Frontman 212R is an outstanding choice for players in need of a versatile amp responsive enough for practice but powerful enough to fill small- to mid-sized venues.
Three Versatile Channels
The Fender Frontman 212R combines the classic sound of a Fender guitar amp with a great set of modern, tone-enhancing features. Foremost, the 212R includes three selectable audio channels to dial-in a full range of tones from crystal-clear cleans to thunderous distortion. The normal channel produces classic Fender clean tones with a volume control, three-band EQ, and enough shimmering warmth to function as a great jazz amp. The drive channel kicks the Frontman 212R into its first gear of edgy rock madness with a variable drive control to bring in any amount of overdrive. The additional 'more drive' channel kicks the fury up another notch, and offers a huge range of saturated overdrive tones ideal for metal and other heavier genres. Select between each channel and bring forth the exact right amount of distortion to match any genre and style.
Expanded Tonal Options
While the three selectable channels offer a great starting point to craft the perfect guitar tone, the Frontman 212R also includes a set of additional tools to further cater your sound. The 'mid-contour' button on the drive and 'more drive' channels adds a mid-range jolt for a more modern-sounding distortion. For the pedal-heads out there, the 212R allows easy effects looping by way of pre-out and pwr-in jacks. And, of course, what self-respecting Fender guitar amp wouldn't includes an independent reverb control? The Frontman 212R captures the very best in classic Fender reverb with its onboard reverb control for a full range of tones from subtle echos to full-on spring cascades.
Classic Fender Looks
Just like Fender's solidbody guitars and basses, Fender amps carry a proud visual legacy to match their classic tone. The Frontman 212R combines black vinyl siding with a silver-black front grille and chrome hardware in the classic Blackface style. With great tones and great looks to match, the Frontman 212R is an amp you'll be proud to take on gigs. All weighing in at a manageable 48 lbs, you won't have to hurt your back in the process.
- Classic Fender guitar amp tones at amazing price
- Three selectable channels -- normal, drive, and more drive -- for huge range of tonal variety
- Effects loop functionality with preamp out and poweramp input
- Mid-counter button on drive channel for added mid-range punch
- 100 watts through two 12-inch speakers -- loud enough for any practice and most venues
- Volume and tone controls on each channel
- Included footswitch connected to onboard jack
- Manageable 48 lbs total weight with comfortable carrying handle
- Independent spring reverb control
With versatile features, classic Fender tone, and a unbelievable price-tag, the Fender Frontman 212R is a great choice for players of any genre. Ideal as a first gigging amp for newer guitarists or as a backup for more experienced players, the Fender Frontman 212R delivers enough tone and volume to meet the demands of any situation.
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Capturing the best qualities of classic Fender sound, but with all the acoutrements of modern tone shaping technology, the Frontman 212R can dish out both the clear and crisp sound for which Fender is known or a huskier distorted sound well suited for more contemporary playing. Either way, this combo amp has enough punch to play a performance or riff through rehearsal.
The quintessential Fender sound is a result of brilliant tube amplification design. While the 212R is in fact a solid state design, it was built with "touch-sensitive" circuity that simulates the sound and feel of a tube amp model, meaning you can get that Fender tone, if you want it. But the 212R has more sonic qualities to offer than just classic mimicry.
With 100 Watts of power coursing through two 12-inch speakers, the Fender Frontman 212R is a viable choice for most small to mid-sized venues, yet it is still quiet and responsive enough to serve as an outstanding practice amp. The ability to serve as both a gigging and practice amp is a boon for beginning players starting on a budget and any player concerned about translating a finely tuned tone from rehearsal to performance. And, at 48 pounds, carrying the 212R from practice garages to clubs and concert halls is very practical.
The 212R's versatility extends to its sonic characteristics, sporting an awe inspiring assortment of tone shaping EQs, effects, and three selectable channels--Normal, Drive, and More Drive. The Normal channel exhibits the distinctly clean sound that made Fender famous. This channel comes with the usual knobs that allow for precise adjustment of low, mid, and treble range outputs. The Drive channel comes with a Drive dial that sets the amount of distortion, making it easy to get just the right level of lowdown dirty growl in the sound. The Drive channel also comes with its own set of bass, mid and treble controls compounding the number of possible tones. The mid-contour button activates a midrange EQ that sings with a more modern distortion sound. The More Drive channel acts as a buffer to the Drive channel increasing its response and intensity across ranges. To make navigating this sea of tonal options easy, Fender has included a footswitch that toggles between the Normal, Drive, and More Drive channels.
But the options and features don't end there. The 212R comes with a reverb dial for more effect choices and PRE OUT and PWR IN jacks for simple effects looping, rigging multiple amps together, recording, or the connection of other various devices of mass destruction.
-2 Inputs, 1 Regular Sensitivity, 1 Low Sensitivity
-Channel Select Button, Toggles Normal or Drive Channels
-More Drive Button for More Drive Channel
-Full Bass/Mids/Treble EQs for all Channels
-Mid-Contour Button for Special Drive Midrange EQ
-Drive Channel LED Indicators
-Footswitch and Footswitch Jack
-PRE OUT and PWR IN Jacks
-Type: Solid State
The name Fender is synonymous with the word quality. Loved by beginners and veterans for its quality of sound and affordability, The Fender Frontman 212R, Fender's most popular model, exemplifies this virtue but also guarantees value.
zZounds Expert Review
I spend a good amount of my time teaching guitar, and many of my students are younger. My first thought when unpacking the Fender 212R was about its likely success as a 'first band' amp. A ton of my entry-level students seem to gravitate to Fender's 15-watt Frontman practice amp, and the 212R will give them a similar look, feel, and tone with enough power to handle ensemble performance.
That's not to say this is a glorified beginner's amp. It has plenty of pro-level features, including footswitchable channel selection, an effects loop to get your pedalboard into the mix, and a solid Fender sound backed by 100-watts of power. Intermediate axe-slingers and crafty veterans should have no problem dialing up some tasty tones.
In Your Faceplate
As with most Fender amps, the control layout is very straightforward. On the left, a pair of 1/4-inch input jacks await your instrument cable. Jack number 2 is padded, so if you have extra-hot pickups or are planning on running high-output pedals up front, you may want to give that one a go.
Next are the controls for channels 1 and 2. You get dedicated Volume and 3-band EQ knobs for each channel, and the dirty channel adds a drive knob, a 'more drive' switch for added gain boost, and a shape switch for the midrange EQ. With the shape (labeled Contour) switch engaged, I was able to get a more progressive mid-scooped tone often used for harder-edged music. Channel controls are followed by a single reverb knob that is used for both channels.
On the far right, 1/4-inch jacks for the (included) footswitch and effects loop (Pre-out/Power-in) are readily accessible. If you plan to keep your pedals in front of the inputs, you can always use the Pre-out to drive a power amp/cabinet rig or as a PA send or direct recording option. The channel EQ knobs are still in effect for these applications.
Next To Godliness
Fender amps are probably best known for their clean tone, so I started with Channel 1. It's a far cry from the warmth and richness you get with a Fender tube amp, but fared as well or better than many other solid state amps I've used. For the price (compared to a vintage Blackface, for example), the 212R exhibits an acceptable amount of Fender-ness with plenty of headroom. I was using a Schecter with fairly hot humbuckers for the demo, and the clean channel didn't start to break up until I hit around 8 on the volume knob. That said, Channel 1 seemed a little quieter than I would have expected out of a 100-watt, 2x12 combo.
The clean channel was very pedal-friendly, offering a stable platform for a variety of distortion and modulation effects I tested. Some amps don't seem to play nice with pedals, but the 212R was very transparent, letting the texture of the pedal shine through in a musical way.
Down And Dirty
Switching to the gain channel, I was impressed by the tight solid-state response and the clear note articulation that jumped out of the speakers. Depending on your taste in overdrive, you may not even need to add additional pedals to the signal chain. For me, the tone was a little bit sterile, but I'm partial to the chunkier tube amp sound. Again, at a fraction of the price of a Hot Rod DeVille, the 212R has plenty of bang for the buck. The gain boost afforded by the 'More Drive' switch was decent, and the transition back and forth was smooth. Keep in mind, the EQ settings for Drive and More Drive are the same. I wouldn't necessarily be looking to dial in a whole new lead tone with this amp, just to push it a little farther out front when the time is right.
Quality reverb is another hallmark of Fender's amp line, though the tank on the 212R sounded a bit empty. The spring unit was much smaller than I was expecting compared to other Fender amps, but not sure if that's the culprit or not. I had to crank the 'verb knob up more than half way to get a noticeable coloration. In a pinch it will work, but if I relied heavily on reverb, I'd probably run an external processor in through the loop.
Overall, the Fender Frontman 212R is a solid journeyman amp. It's relatively lightweight for easy gigging, and I liked the open-back design with velcro fasteners for the power cord and included footswitch. I'm constantly tripping over those kinds of things, so it's nice to know there's a convenient place to tuck them away without damaging the internal components. The tone is solid, if not quite on par with some of Fender's flagship tube amps, but you'll be hard pressed to find a better solid-state workhorse in this price range.