Since the invention of guitar amplifiers, there were some interesting devices out there that were used for different scenarios. One of the most interesting amplifiers out there and also the ones that have always got my attention from the get-go were practice amplifiers. Back in the day, there were small valve amps that were pretty bizarre actually when you compare them with today’s amps. They had just a single volume dial for control. However, recently we have seen some excellent models, the most notable of them being the Fender Frontman 15G, which has established itself as one of the most solid practice amps out there.
Like I said in the beginning, we will talk about a super popular practice amplifier that is super small and compact. The Fender Frontman 15G is pretty interesting as it is a solid-state amp that is designed especially for beginner guitarists out there. The most interesting thing about the Fender Frontman 15G is that it is featured in so many Squier by Fender Starter Packs. It is a pretty cheap amplifier, just enough power to get you started with playing the guitar, and very easy to use overall. I have had my fair share of experience with beginner practice amplifiers and I have to say I don’t quite like them. But the Fender Frontman 15G has quite a reputation, so it is worth checking out.
Specs and Features
The Frontman series amplifiers from Fender have been some pretty interesting models, as they delivered a classic Fender tone, with not a lot of features. They are generally dedicated to budget buyers, which is interesting to see from Fender, as they don’t quite do that. Squier generally handles that. Taking a look at the spec sheet and feature list of the Fender Frontman 15G reveals what I was expecting, a very stripped off package, a basic set of features, so let’s see.
Like its name implies the Fender Frontman 15G is packed with 15watts of power, which is pretty small for a solid-state amplifier. While a tube amp at 15watts is pretty good, at solid-state is very little. But it is dedicated for beginners to practice and get around with. It also packs an 8-inch speaker which is a Fender Special Design one that should deliver a good enough performance. Fender had quite some issues with their speakers in their combo amps, but reviewing their recent models has revealed they have gotten around that.
One thing that bothers me a lot about the Fender Frontman 15G is that it rocks a closed-back design. This makes any repair or modification a bit difficult to achieve. I would suggest everyone that has a bit of electrical knowledge to swap the speaker for a better aftermarket model that comes with a very low price. Then again a beginner shouldn’t even bother with these things at all and just have fun with this amplifier as much as they can.
In terms of signals, they have dual selectable channels which include the classic normal and drive channels. The normal channel corresponds to the clean channel and the drive one is for the overdrive or distortion channel. So far so good. The Fender Frontman 15G has the most crucial feature for beginners though, it can accept headphones so you can practice in your bedroom without deafening your neighborhood. Trust me you will need it. On top of all that it has 3-band EQ and auxiliary ports for different settings.
Looking at the pictures of the Fender Frontman 15G I knew what I was expecting. I got this amplifier in a package with the Squier by Fender Strat HSS Pack which is a great package for beginners actually and it has become my favorite gift for younger relatives that are interested in music. This package has a Squier Stratocaster with an HSS pickup setup, some lessons, picks, straps, cables, and the amp. It is a good looking amplifier though. It has the classic closed-back, Blackface style body. It has black textured vinyl covering that looks pretty premium actually.
On the front end side, it has a silver grille cloth that is a traditional Blackface style and the Fender logo on the top left-hand side. On top of the amp, you will find the handle for carrying this 13.25×12.5×7.25-inch large and 15-pound box. On the front, you will also find the control panel. From the right has the main input, then it has the normal channel volume dial, gain dial, drive volume dial, and after that the treble, mids, and bass dial. On the right side of the control panel, you will spot two auxiliary in ports and the headphone ports ending with the power switch. I would recommend getting the Fender 1-Button Footswitch for switching easily between the normal and drive channel without trying to press the small button.
I have quite a high standard for amplifiers, and I can comfortably say that I am very nitpicky when it comes to amplifiers. However, for amplifiers in this price range, you have to lower your standards significantly, because let’s face it, these won’t allow you to deliver those delicious tube amp tones. If I have to rate the Fender Frontman 15G based on the category average, I can say that it is a pretty average amplifier. The clean channel impressed me though, as it delivered a natural sound without messing a lot with my signal. The Frontman series has established itself as one of the most versatile amps when it comes to pedals. I tested with the Boss DS-1 Distortion, which is one of my favorite pedals and it did a great job at delivering some nice tones, so there’s that.
Everything considered the Fender Frontman 15G is not an amplifier that you will test the limits of your tones and explore your style. It is not an amplifier that you will gig on. But the silver lining is that the Fender Frontman 15G is one of the best amplifiers out there for beginner guitarists that can’t invest in high-end options, and I don’t recommend investing in such devices. Performance is pretty good for the price and for practicing it doesn’t get any better.