If you play the electric guitar, chances are you have already spent a nice amount of time checking out gear at music stores or online. There is an endless array of products online designed to make your experience more pleasurable and to help you find the sound that you hear in your head when you think of the perfect guitar tone for you.
One of the most important pieces of gear that you must consider as a guitarist is the amplifier you’re using. The amp plays a major role in your tone, affecting it even more than the guitar itself in some cases.
Picking the right amplifier for you is something that you should take some time with, as you want to make sure that you make the best choice among the options you end up considering.
Are you playing live shows? Are they in small venues or in stages? Do you want an amp that can keep up with a drummer and a bassist at your rehearsals, or would you rather have something a bit more manageable to be able to play comfortably at home without upsetting any roommates or neighbors?
It is not just the overall volume and weight of the amp that you should take into account. Some amps are best known for their overdrive and distortion sounds, such as Marshall or Orange. Others tend to favor players who prefer having a clear, pristine clean tone, which still leaves them the option to get their overdriven sounds from pedals if the amp doesn’t have a drive channel.
This review and guide are going to focus specifically on the Fender Frontmaster 25r. We will be going over its main features, checking in which situations this might be a good amp to have, and comparing it with other models that you might come across when looking for an amp within its price range.
Fender Frontman 25r – Specs Overview and Main Features
The Fender Frontman 25r is by no means a big and heavy amp, but it most definitely packs more of a punch than all the 10 and 15 watt practice amps that you can find at any music store (think Roland Cube 10GX, Fender Frontman 10G, or Yamaha THRII Wireless).
Fender gave it the classic Blackface look that has been a staple since its debut in the early sixties.
At its core, it is still closer to being a practice amp than a workhorse for those who are touring and playing in large venues. However, you can still use this amplifier for rehearsals and small gigs without fear of being drowned by the rest of the band.
It is a simple amp, offering only the essential controls over your guitar signal and a reverb worth taking into account if you’re thinking of acquiring an amp of this kind.
Let’s start by listing its specs and then go over the features that make this amp worth considering.
- Amp Type: Solid State
- Output Power: 25w
- Speaker: Single 10″ Fender Special Design Speaker
- Channels: Dual channel amp – Clean and Overdrive w/ Gain Control
- Effects: Reverb
- EQ: 3 Band EQ (Bass, Middle, Treble)
- Connectivity: Headphone Jack and RCA Input
- Footswitch: Yes
- Construction: Open Back Enclosure
- Weight: 25 lbs (11.4 kg)
- Dimensions: Height: 15.5 (39.4cm) x Width: 17″ (43.2cm) x Depth: 8.25″ (21.6cm)
Now let’s dive a bit deeper into the specs and try to understand whether this might be the best candidate for your next guitar amplifier.
It is a solid state amp, which can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on what you are looking for. Often, guitarists prefer tube amps due to their natural, organic response and the way their sound starts to break up as you increase the volume.
However, tube amps are also known for being more fragile, breaking down more often, and needing maintenance to make sure that they won’t let you down in a crucial moment such as an important show or during a recording session. Maintenance usually includes replacing the tubes, general cleaning, adjusting the bias, among others.
Because of these drawbacks, you might feel safer with a solid state amp – since they do not use vacuum tubes to work, they are much more reliable and stable, giving you some extra peace of mind at all times.
While their tone doesn’t really match the same sound and feel of a tube amp, solid state models have been evolving exponentially over the last few years, and they are sounding better than ever.
Plus, if you play mostly with a clean sound, you won’t really miss the overdrive that a tube amp on the verge of breakup produces, which is one of their most coveted features.
This amp has 25w of power, and although it can’t hold up against a half stack or full stack (50W or 100W amps) in terms of volume, it can still perform exceptionally well inside a rehearsal room with a band, and it can be a fantastic tool in the studio.
This is a great amp to consider if you want to have something that you can use safely at home and carry it to rehearsals and gigs at small venues.
It comes loaded with a 10″ Fender Special Design speaker. While 12″ speakers (present on amps such as the Fender Deluxe Reverb) tend to sound a bit more full, 10″ speakers tend to have a more present midrange, and they typically sound tighter than their 12″ counterparts. The Fender Super Reverb, one of their most legendary amps, also uses 10″ speakers.
Unlike the vintage Fender amps that did not feature a drive channel at all, this model features a dual-channel design. The best of all is that you can use the included footswitch to switch between the clean and distorted channels without having to touch anything on the amp itself.
The reverb is definitely worth mentioning. This amp does not have digital reverb or any kind of modeler. It features real spring reverb, which is something that isn’t very common in cheaper, smaller amps. You’d usually find it in more premium Fender amps such as the Princeton, Deluxe Reverb, Super Reverb, Twin Reverb, and others.
Having this kind of reverb quality improves your tone significantly, so if you don’t have a reverb pedal on your pedalboard, this amp can be a very good option.
It is also great that Fender includes the footswitch in the box, while some amps require you to purchase it separately. You can configure it for a few different functions, but the most useful one is to change between the clean and overdrive channels, especially if you don’t use any overdrive pedals.
The EQ section is pretty straightforward, with Bass, Middle and Treble control. The amp also features a headphone jack and RCA input for you to plug in any device to play backing tracks, drum loops, or anything else through the amp’s speaker.
Other than that, it is a light, portable amp with the classic Blackface looks that Fender popularized in the ’60s that can be extremely versatile.
Who is This Amplifier Best Suited for? Biggest Selling Points
These are some of the reasons why you might want to get this amplifier:
At 25 lbs, it is not the lightest amp to carry around, but it still doesn’t even get near some 2×12 combos, or having to carry a head and a 4×12 cabinet.
This combo has a good ratio of size, weight and power, since it still performs well when playing with other musicians, while sparing your back when you need to transport it.
At 25w of power, this amp stands in a sweet spot. It isn’t an underpowered amplifier like a 5w or a 10w model, which is what many people get as practice amps, but it also isn’t an amp in which you can barely touch the master volume without starting to shake everything around you.
This makes it usable in a variety of scenarios, allowing you to really take advantage of how many different jobs it can perform efficiently.
If you are worried about needing to have your amp repaired or breaking down in an important situation, you should take into account that solid state amps tend to be more reliable than tube amps simply because of their design. Many players favor the tone of tube amps, but you will need to care for your amp a lot more thoroughly than a solid state one.
If you already own a bigger or better amplifier that you keep at a rehearsal room or a studio and you are looking for something a bit smaller and more modest to keep at home and practice at bedroom volumes, this is a great addition to your collection. It is extremely usable at low volumes, but also has enough power to be useful in other scenarios.
Fender amps are best known for their clean tones. If you’re a player that doesn’t venture into overdrive and distortion much, you might as well get an amplifier that focuses more on the clean sound rather than a dirty tone.
Not to say that the overdrive channel is not usable in the Fender Frontman 25r, but the real value is in its clean tone.
The fact that you get a real spring reverb in an amplifier that is by no means expensive is a great selling point. Spring reverb has been a staple on countless players’ rigs, and this is a great way to add that sound to your arsenal.
You might not have a reverb pedal on your pedalboard yet, and this fills that void perfectly. Even if you do, a reverb tone like this one is always worth having.
What are Other Amps Within the Same Price Range Worth Checking Out?
Even though the Fender Frontman 25r is a great amp choice for its price, there are also alternatives that you can consider acquiring instead without leaving its price range. It all depends on personal taste and what kind of sound you are currently going for. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions:
GuitarCenter – Orange Amplifiers Crush12 12W 1×6
Orange amplifiers have been around for decades, and many people love them for their distorted tones. This one is not as powerful as the Frontman 25r since it has half its power. It also has a smaller speaker, but it has a different sound that you might prefer over the Fender’s clean tone.
GuitarCenter – Acoustic Lead Guitar Series G20 20W 1×10
The Acoustic Lead Guitar Series G20 is almost as powerful as the Frontman 25r, the 5 watt difference isn’t going to be very noticeable. It also features a 10″ speaker and two channels. It is a bit lighter than the Frontman too.
GuitarCenter – Kustom MOD-L20 20W 1×8
The Kustom MOD-L20 is a modeling amplifier, meaning that it has several different sounds built into it. 24 different amp models, to be precise. It also comes with several digital reverbs, delays, modulation effects, EQs, cabinet simulators and signal enhancing conditioning, which give you endless combinations to craft your tone with.
GuitarCenter – Fender Frontman 10G 10W
In case the Frontman 25r is too big or heavy for your needs, you can consider the Frontman 10G, Fender’s smallest offer in its guitar amplifier catalog. The only real advantages of having this amp over the 25r are the weight and the fact that it takes up less space. Other than that, the Frontman 25r sounds better and outperforms this one in every category.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Is the Fender Frontman 25r Loud Enough for Rehearsals and Gigging?
Answer: Unless you are playing with musicians that use very loud amps (100w or more), the Frontman 25r can put out a very fair amount of volume for its size.
It might not have as much weight and body as a bigger amp with more powerful speakers, but at least it can be useful in a very wide array of scenarios, whether you use it at home, at a recording studio, or in live shows, as long as you aren’t playing in very big venues.
Question: What Kind of Reverb Does the Fender Frontman 25r Have?
Answer: The Fender Frontman 25r is equipped with a great spring reverb unit, which is a huge improvement from the digital reverb that is usually found on cheaper amps like this. Fender is known for its characteristic reverb sound, and you can capture it with this small, affordable amp.
Question: Is the Fender Frontman 25r a Good Practice Amp?
Answer: The Fender Frontman 35r works amazingly well as a practice amp when played at bedroom volumes. Despite being small and light, it still packs enough of a punch to be used comfortably in a band rehearsal, studio recordings, and small gigs.
Question: Is the Fender Frontman 25r a Good Choice for a Pedal Platform Amp?
Answer: If you’re planning to get an amplifier to use it with pedals (overdrive, distortion, modulation, time based effects, etc.), the Fender Frontman 25r is a great choice, as it accepts pedals very well. Most people tend to prefer amps that have a good clean sound and a fair amount of headroom when they play with lots of pedals, and this amp strikes a great balance in those areas.
Question: Is the Fender Frontman 25r a Solid State or Tube Amplifier?
Answer: The Fender Frontman 25r is a solid state amplifier, which means it runs using transistors instead of vacuum tubes. Tube amps have been around for longer than solid state technology, and while it is older and less stable, many players still crave the characteristic sound that they produce.
Nevertheless, solid state amps are getting better every year, and in some cases, it is almost impossible to tell them apart in a blind test!
You should consider getting the Fender Frontman 25r if you want an amp that isn’t very expensive but still gets you a lot of value for the money.
It is easy to transport, comes with a footswitch in the box to change between its two channels, a real spring reverb, and the classic Fender Blackface look. If this is the kind of sound and aesthetics that you like, this can be a great addition to your collection!