FENDER FRONTMAN II 15B BASS AMPLIFIER
Recommend this product?
Whenever one is considering purchasing an entry level musical instrument or amplifier, there is always a question as to how much money one should spend, and how much quality a beginner actually needs in a musical instrument or amplifier. One must balance the fact that a beginner may not wish to continue to progress with their playing, and that buying a good quality musical instrument or amplifier would be sacrificing a lot of money foolishly. On the other side of the equation is the fact that buying a cheap musical instrument may make the process of learning the instrument extra difficult as well as unnecessarily frustrating for the beginner. I very clearly remember the first guitar that I had was unable to hold itself in tune, and the action was so bad that the steel strings cut into my fingers like razor blades. Another consideration is that sometimes the sound that the inexpensive musical instrument and/or amplifier produces is so horrendous, that it turns the student musician off. Clearly, buying an entry level musical instrument or amplifier is not an easy task. I shall try in this review to give the reader sufficient information to make an informed buying decision regarding what I perceive to be the pros and cons of the Fender Frontman II 15B Bass Amplifier
Like all of the amps in the Frontman II series of Fender amplifiers, the Fender Frontman II 15B Bass Amp features all solid state circuitry for reliability and ease of use. Part of this circuitry is the Deltacomp circuit, which is an adaptive compression circuit that dramatically lessens the chance for distortion in the power amp section, and the result is a tone that is more clear and punchy than would usually be expected for a bass amp in this price range. The appearance of the Fender Frontman II 15B Bass Amp is reminiscent of the famous Blackface series of Fender Amps from the 1960s, and it features skirted control knobs, black textured vinyl, and a silver grill cloth. The Fender Frontman II 15B Bass Amplifier also packs a lot of power (relatively speaking) into a compact space. The amp produces 15 Watts RMS of power, and sends it to a Fender Specially Designed 8-Ohm, 8 inch speaker, in a solidly built cabinet. The amp is compact and light in weight as well. It is 15 inches high, 17 ¼ inches wide, 9 ¾ inches deep, and only weighs a mere 21 pounds. This makes the Fender Frontman II 15B small enough to fit into the trunk of a compact car, and light enough to easily move around with relative ease.
It is very important for a beginner to have an amplifier that has controls that are very simple and straightforward to understand and to use, as well as being easy to find and to operate. This cuts down on frustration, and gives the student musician the feeling of being more in control of the situation. As such, one on the things that makes this amp so desirable for the beginning musician is that all of the controls and functions of the amp are so very easy and straightforward to understand and to operate. All of the controls, as well as the input and output jacks, are located on the front panel of the amp.
To begin with, there is only one Input, and that is of course suitable for most bass guitars. Next on the front panel are the Volume Control, followed by the Low Control (which adjusts the low frequency levels), the Mid Control (which adjusts the mid-frequency levels), and the High Control (which adjusts the high-frequency levels). The front panel also has several useful input and output jacks. There is an Auxiliary In RCA input jack that can be used with a portable CD player, drum machine, etc. These input jacks are not linked to the Amplifier Volume or Tone Controls, and as such, any adjustment to the volume or tone of the device that is being plugged into this input must be controlled from outside of the amp itself. The last output jack on the amp is a Headphone Out jack for use with stereo or mono headphones. Using this jack automatically by passes the speaker, and makes late night practicing in ones room an easy chore to accomplish. This jack can also be used as an unbalanced line output by using either a stereo or mono guitar jack, and the Fender Frontman II 15B Bass Amps signal can be sent directly to a recording device or to the board of a PA or similar sound reinforcement system.
And now, on to the sound of the amp, and its overall functionality. The Volume and Tone Controls are not very responsive. There is not much difference in sound on the Volume knob once you reach about 5. Further increases in the Volume knob beyond this point do not do very much. I must confess that this was also the case for each of the Tone controls as well. The amp seemed to sound its best when the volume was set to about 3 or 4, and the tone controls were approximately between 4 and 6. I was using a 1964 Fender Precision Bass to test this amp out, and different bass guitars may of course sound better or worse at these or different setting. At these levels, the amp sounded clear and punchy, which is perhaps most attributable to the Deltacomp adaptive compression circuitry. However, turning up the Low Tone knob past 6 caused the amp to begin to rattle and buzz. Cranking the volume of the amp and the Tone controls to 10 caused a distorted and indistinct sound, and the speaker began to flap. An 8 inch speaker is not something that I would recommend for amplifying any instrument, but for a bass, it certainly is not the best of choices.
I must also confess that 15 amps of power is not very much for a bass amp, and I would definitely not recommend this amp for practicing with a band. I would never recommend using this amp for live performances for any size room. The only room this amp is really suitable for is your bed room. It is however loud enough and clear enough for practicing by oneself. It is a reasonably good practice amp, but I would not really recommend it for other purposes.
In sum, I like the Fender Frontman II 15B Bass Amp. It is a good value for the money. However, even though it carries the Fender name, it will have limited resale value should you ever decide to sell it and upgrade to a bigger or better amp in the future. Practice amps in this price range, and especially bass amps in this wattage range, regardless of who or what manufacturer they are made by, really do not have much resale value. If you are considering getting a practice amp for a beginning musician, and then are planning to try to sell it someday to upgrade to a better amp at a later time, I would recommend getting an amp with more power, such as the Fender Frontman II 25B Bass Amp (25 Watt RMS) or even the Fender Bassman 100 (100 Watts RMS). Either of these small amps would be easier to sell, especially the Bassman 100, and they also sound considerably better as well, and further, they do not cost significantly more money.
Like the saying goes, You get what you pay for. Buying an inexpensive practice amp or an amp for a beginning musician represents a compromise between price and quality. Ultimately you will have to decide what is the best decision for you, based on your needs, expectations, and finances. I hope that this review has been of help to you in this regard.
Well, I would like to thank you very much for taking the time to ready my review, but now if you will excuse me, I must get back to my practicing.