Every aspiring guitarist needs a guitar amp – that’s a fact. I’m sure that if you’re an amateur and you’re looking for gear recommendations, you noticed that a lot of people are recommending the Fender Frontman 10G.
I had the pleasure to test it out recently and to be honest, I understood why it’s so popular. The Frontman 10G has pretty much everything that any beginner needs – two channels, pretty good tone and affordable price. It’s not perfect, but it will definitely get you going.
All sound demos and photos below are mine. Let’s take an in-depth look at that model to see what exactly makes it so good. Of course, it’s not a sponsored review – I’m not going to hide any potential flaws from you.
Let’s start with a sound sample to give you a brief idea of what you can expect.
About Fender Frontman 10G
This is probably one of the cheapest (or maybe even the cheapest) solid-state combo with a Fender logo on it. You may think that it’s crap because of that, but it’s not exactly true – low price doesn’t mean that it’s bad.
I’ve seen A LOT of guitar noobs who are starting with this exact model, so it seems to be a go-to option for beginners. Think about it – this amp was introduced in 2008 and it’s still available on sale, so that means that it brings Fender a lot of profits.
Why do people buy it? Well, that’s pretty obvious. Classic Fender aesthetic, pretty low price, good tone and a few cool features – it all makes sense. I wouldn’t recommend this combo for more intermediate players though.
The main features of Frontman 10G include:
- a 6″ speaker (Fender Special Design)
- 10 Watts of power
- a 2-band EQ
- ability to quickly switch between clean and overdrive
- input for backing tracks
- output for headphones
That’s quite a lot of stuff for such a cheap and compact amp, right? These 10 Watts give you plenty of punch to practice at home – you can definitely annoy your neighbors with that if you’re up for it.
I think that the ovedrive switch is the most important feature of that combo. Things like that aren’t usually available in cheap amps, so that’s a massive advantage. There’s nothing more annoying that having to adjust all the controls when you want to switch from clean to crunchy tones.
As you can see on the photos, Fender Frontman 10G has a very simple construction – you won’t have problems with using it. There are only four controls – Gain, Volume, Treble, Bass – and one switch that activates the overdrive.
In my opinion, this beginner-friendly setup is ideal for amateurs. If you’re a noob, you most likely don’t even know what the EQ is, so that level of simplicity is awesome.
I don’t see any issues with the build quality of that amp – it’s made very well and it doesn’t feel cheap. So this is an another advantage, because sometimes budget amps tend to have a much poorer quality. Sometimes you can literally smell the cheap plastic, but don’t worry – the Frontman is not like that.
If I had to rate the build quality from 0-10, I’d give this combo a solid 9. The grip handle feels a bit cheap, but it’s not a big deal. The rest of the amp is completely fine – and that’s what matters the most in the end.
And I have to mention that this combo actually looks good in real life – it’s just generally aesthetically pleasing. That silver grille cloth looks very cool and even when you’re not using it, this amp is a great addition to any room.
For those who don’t want to read the full review, here’s a quick summary of all the specs. I personally measured the dimensions so you can be sure that they’re correct.
|Speaker||6″ Fender Special Design|
|Dimensions||28 cm x 26 cm x 14.5 cm|
I took some time and I recorded quite a few sound samples for you to hear. I know that it’s all basic, but it should give you an understanding of what exactly you can expect of that model. For the parts with reverb, I used the Fender Marine Layer pedal.
Sample 1- Clean Fingerpicking
Sample 2 – Clean Strumming
Sample 3 – Overdrive
Sample 4 – Clean + Reverb Effect
Sample 5 – Clean + Overdrive Effect
All of these samples come from my video review of Frontman 10G.
What I Don’t Like About This Amp
Let’s be clear – this is a good combo but it’s definitely not the best amp in the world. It produces a loud and nice sound, but it won’t sweep you off your feet. That’s understandable – it’s not meant to blow your mind.
I also believe that the cleans are way better than crunchy tones on that thing. Some people say that overdrive sucks here but I don’t agree with that – you just get what you pay for. So it’s a decent overdrive, but obviously it will never be the same as overdrive of a high quality tube combo.
Volume is an another issue – but it’s not necessarily a disadvantage. You have to be aware that this combo can get loud, but it can’t get extremely loud. So the volume level here is limited. You won’t be able to take the Frontman to your rehearsals or live shows because it’s simply not powerful enough.
It would also be nice to have a 3-band EQ here insteaad of the 2-band EQ, but it’s not a big deal. There are no built-in effects here either. I’m sure that this combo would be even better with a bit of reverb of chorus.
So summing up – the overdrive could be better, the limited power may (but not necessarily) be an issue and it would be cool to have more features in here. But on the other hand – remember that it’s the cheapest Fender amp out there. So you can’t really expect it to be on such a high level, right?
Who Should Get It?
As I mentioned before, Fender Frontman 10G is mainly created for amateurs. Of course, you can also use it if you’re a bit more advanced but to be honest, if you’re experienced you probably need something better.
So if you’re a guitarist who’s looking for their first guitar amp – this is the way to go. And yeah, I know that there are A LOT of other good amps out there. Think of Orange Crush 12, Marshall MG10 or Vox Pathfinder 10 – they’re all awesome. I’m not saying that this Fender is the best, but it definitely deserves to be on the top.
You can also look at it from the budget perspective. I’m sure that we all love to pay less than we have to. So why pay more for a fancy combo when you can get this Frontman for a reasonable amount of cash? Things get even better when you find it on the second hand market. This stuff is cheap!
What Kind Of Music Can You Play With That Amp?
Having the ability to quickly switch between clean and overdrive gives you a lot of tonal possibilities. I’d say that it’s a very versatile amp which you can use for pretty much any genre of music.
So whether you want to play some classic rock and blues or something a bit more alternative, that’s completely fine. The amp also works quite good with pedals, so if you already have a pedalboard – that’s even better for you.
You can also crank the overdrive and try to play metal with that amp, but let’s be honest – it won’t sound that good. I mean it’s possible, but I wouldn’t recommend this combo if you’re a metalhead. It’s definitely made for something a bit lighter.
Pros & Cons
Here’s a quick recap of all pros and cons for those who aren’t reading the full article.
Advantages of that amp include:
- low price
- overdrive switch
- great clean tone and pretty good crunchy sound
- two-band EQ
- beginner-friendly controls
- awesome look
- solid build quality
- compact size
But when it comes to the disadvantages, you have to bear in mind that they include:
- limited power – you won’t be able to use that amp for rehearsals or shows
- no built-in effects
- grip handle feels a bit cheap
- overdrive is good, but it definitely could be better
So as you can see, despite of this huge amount of positive things that I can say about that combo, there’s still quite a few cons too. I don’t think that they’re that relevant though – especially if you’re a beginner guitarist.
Although Fender Frontman 10G should cause you any trouble, there’s a few things that you can do to make sure that it will serve you for years to come. It’s not a tube amp so everything is much easier here.
Here’s a few things that you can do to keep it in mint condition:
- regularly clean the front panel with damp cloth
- don’t throw it at walls (even when you’re pissed that you can’t play fancy solos yet)
- check the speaker if you’re noticing problems with sound quality
- visit someone who repairs amps in case of any other issues
So as you can see, it’s all pretty obvious. Just treat it with respect and it won’t cause you and problems!
You’re probably aware that there are A LOT of different amp manufacturers out there. You know all these names – Marshall, Orange, VOX, Blackstar and so on. Each one of them has a similar small beginner-friendly combo in their offer.
But out of my experience (and yeah, I tested all of these amps), there are only a few that can compete with the Frontman 10G. That includes:
- Orange Crush 12
- Marshall MG10
- Vox Pathfinder 10
- or Fender Champion 20 (but this one’s way bigger, louder and more advanced thanks to the built-in effects).
If you’re a beginner, all of these amps will suit you. It all depends on your budget and your own preferences when it comes to tone. As you can imagine, they all sound a bit different.
I have to say that I particularly like the Orange Crush 12. I recorded a few videos about that combo and I recently wrote an article about it, so if you’re interested, make sure to read that post on my blog (the sound demos are included as well).
The main problem is that the Crush 12 doesn’t have the overdrive switch like the Frontman. So as a result, you’ll have to adjust all the knobs manually just to add some punch to your tone. That’s pretty annoying. But on the other hand, the overdrive in Crush 12 sounds better than in Fender. So again, it all depends on what you’re looking for.
I’m not going to tell you which one you should buy because it’s your own decision. But if you’re on the hunt for a new combo and you don’t want to spend too much, the amps that I mentioned are probably the best ones that you will possibly find.
Summing up, Fender Frontman 10G is a nice and cheap practice amp recommended for home use. It’s created mainly for beginners and that’s totally fine.
If you visited this review, you’re probably looking for information whether this is the best option for the aspiring guitarist. And the answer is YES, it’s a good option. It will definitely encourage you to play and practice more.
But just don’t expect it to be on an extremely high level. It’s functional and it sounds good, but it will never sound the same as a high-quality tube Fender amp for a few thousands of dollars. I’m sure you already know that though!
Thanks for reading this review, who knows, maybe it was helpful! If you end up with getting that thing, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section. I’m sure that other guitarists who are in similar situation as you would love to read about your experience with the Frontman 10G.