Aug 12, 2013

Fender Frontman 10G Amp Review

          The Fender Frontman 10G is a small, portable 10 watt practice amp.  All good, but its low price shows through its lack of tonal variety.

          For just $60, the Frontman is a good companion to your first electric guitar.  Construction is solid and very lightweight, and the size can easily fit in a backpack for portability.  Convenience gets a 9/10 because it would be nice to also be able to take batteries as an alternative.

          The sound quality leaves a lot to desire though.  Even before getting a better amp I could tell how lacking it was.  The big problem is that the small speakers can't handle any bass.  The sound is a little thin and not "real" sounding.  In other words, it's $60 and definitely sounds like it.

          The controls include a volume knob, which is actually quite powerful, treble and bass control, and an "overdrive" button and gain knob to control the overdrive.

          On clean settings it's fine, the volume can be cranked up and it makes decent clean sounds.  Again, it's very trebly, but for lighter music that's okay.

          Making it sound good for rock takes some working with the dials.  Making it sound good for metal is impossible.  For harder music, the thin treble tone is just not good enough.  Also, it gets somewhat fuzzy more than harsher.

           I would like to explain something that I had to figure out on my own.  The volume control on the guitar really isn't just volume control, but is another gain knob.  Gain makes the tone "dirtier" as well as louder, unlike the master volume.  So the guitar's volume knob affects tone quite a bit.

           That being said, turning up gain and guitar volume and turning down master volume makes a world of difference in sound.  With overdrive channel on, gain at max, and guitar volume at max on this relatively clean sounding amp, it suddenly turns into a rock amp.  Without the guitar volume high, though, the overdrive channel isn't very effective.

           Anyway, while it can attain a decent level of gain, (still no metal) the tone is just lacking something.  Played side by side with the $100 Fender Mustang 1 on similar settings the Frontman was simply blown out of the water.  The difference isn't in the effects as much as the feeling of the sound; the Mustang sounded like a full powerful guitar should, even with a Squier Strat, while the Frontman sounded like a toy - too much treble and not enough depth to the notes.  It sounded okay, but flat and lifeless.  Subtle nuances in playing are just lost completely in the amp.

           Even more, the effects are nonexistent.  While a modeling amp like the Mustang has virtually unlimited sounds and hundreds of dollars worth of effects pedals in it, the Frontman 10G has absolutely no effects.  Volume, gain, treble, bass, that's it.  Some might like the simplicity if they aren't playing a wide variety of music, but it really is a big downside otherwise.

Easy to use
Decent Clean channel

No bass
Flat boring tone
No effects
Small range of sounds
Poor high gain sound

          To wrap things up, the Frontman is cheap and convenient for a first time player, and the very limited options of sounds is actually a good thing for a new guitarist to not have to worry about.  Another nice thing is the shockingly loud volume that such a small amp can produce.  On the downside, sound quality is just cheap sounding and the virtually nonexistent range of tones is a big problem for anyone past beginner.

          If you want a practice amp for playing just basic effect-free clean sounds, this is fine.  However, you probably will want some effects later, and it's well worth it to just save the little extra cash for an amp with effects than to spend much more on pedals and still have a worse sound.  Overall, I'll give it a 6 out of 10 stars.  I strongly recommend getting the Mustang 1 instead if you can.  It will be well worth it down the road.


  1. I love these little amps. As long as you understand it's purpose then it won't disappoint.
    My friend in my band has one of these which I tend to use when we rehearse at his place. It's easy as I just roll up with my guitar and a pedals.
    For that purpose this amp works great. It actually reminds me of an old tweed champ I used to have to some degree. I think it would be useful for recording too.

    So as you can probably tell I am no tube snob. I was until about 2 or 3 years ago when I ended up using solid state amps a lot out of necessity. I also love the Frontman 25R, which the same friend of mine also has.

    1. The convenience of this little amp sure was great, but I couldn't stand the sound quality personally. When I upgraded to the Fender Mustang I was completely blown away by the improvement, especially in bottom end sound, distorted sounds, and the plethora of special effects.

      I've been kind of longing for the simplicity of a little practice amp again though and I just picked up a Vox Pathfinder 10 to try out. Pretty similar in features to the Frontman 10G, slightly larger speaker and a little pricier, but much better reviews regarding the tone and looks. I'll have an unboxing and review up in a few days I'm sure :)


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