I get asked all the time for guitar amplifier recommendations from guitarists that want to have a good amp to use in their live band. The amp I use and love is the Fender Cyber-Twin SE and I highly recommend that guitar amplifier. The Cyber-Twin SE is a professional quality amp which is also fairly expensive but I believe it’s worth every penny. That being said, many guitarists who are just starting out in their first live band are looking for quality guitar amplification and they don’t have a lot of cash to spend on an amplifier. That’s why today I’m going to talk about the extremely affordable Fender Frontman 212R guitar amplifier.
A guitarist playing in a live band faces two very common problems. Those problems are the need for excellent sound quality and volumes loud enough to be heard with the drums and bass. You really need an amplifier that will deliver good, loud volume while still sounding good at those higher volumes. The Fender Frontman 212R delivers both incredibly good volume and excellent sound clarity at those high volumes. I would have to say that the 212R’s biggest strength is its ability to get loud! With this amplifier you will be able to easily be louder than your drummer which will help you to hear better onstage. One thing you want in any amplifier is volume headroom because you can always turn it down but if you can’t turn up loud enough, you’re out of luck. With the Fender Frontman 212R your volume problems are solved.
Keeping good sound clarity at the loudest stage volumes can be a challenge for any guitar amp. Fender is famous for keeping the sound of their amplifiers consistent over the entire volume range and the Frontman 212R keeps that reputation alive. The clear channel never seems to change no matter how loud you turn the amplifier. The distortion channel will give you some extra grit as you turn the amplifier up but it too remains consistent at all volume levels.
The Fender Frontman 212R does have some weaknesses. It is a very treble heavy amplifier and you will need to really watch your high frequencies. It seems to play better with humbucker equipped guitars. The distortion channel, named “drive and more drive”, gives passable distortion but you will really want to run a traditional distortion stompbox or a distortion modeling pedal with this amp.
Although the Frontman 212R’s strengths are volume and consistency it is a little weak in the tone department. You will want to have some effect pedals to sweeten the tone of this amplifier up. Remember, your main advantages with the Frontman 212R is the low price, high volume, and tonal consistency of the amplifier. I would suggest picking up a distortion pedal with tone controls, a chorus pedal and a delay pedal to use with the 212R. With that selection of pedals you can get some extremely good sounds out of this amplifier.
In summary, the Fender Frontman 212R is a great amp if you’re just getting started playing out in a live band. It will solve your most common problems of volume and sound clarity while not breaking your budget. The 212R is really at home on the stage and is meant to be played in larger rooms. If you live in an apartment, you better have some understanding neighbors!
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