A tale of three amps

speelyei

Squier-holic
Sep 22, 2020
1,100
North America
Craig has $160.
He buys a Frontman 25r for $60, and is pleasantly surprised at how good it sounds.
Impressed by his good fortune, he then contacts a seller with a Sidekick Reverb 25, and this amp costs Craig $29.
On the same day he buys a Champion 30 for $60. Both of these amps are purchased on his lunch break and he doesn’t have adequate time to consider them. He’s overconfident because the 25r was such a good buy, regardless of what reviewers or tube-only people think.
Well…
The Sidekick is basically a lemon, and a few hours later Craig gives it to the man who salvages cans and things from the dumpster.
The Champion is passable, but needs help. It hums and the knobs seem loose, and the amp has a peculiar smell. It’s effects are somewhat underwhelming.

Now Craig is watching videos about troubleshooting and reviving solid state combo amps.
But, he’s got an idea, and it’s a good one. You’ll see.

Alright, off to bed with you now! Morning will come quick, and you want to be all rested up! Ni night!
 

speelyei

Squier-holic
Sep 22, 2020
1,100
North America
The three are: Frontman 25r (my fave by a mile), a Champion 30 that I need to take home and give some attention to, and the Sidekick 25 which I just gave away.

I’m not real excited about wrenching on an amp, but it’ll be a new experience for me.

My big plan I alluded to is really pretty simple. I am going to make a cover for the front of the amp. It won’t just be a cover, though, it will also be a pedal board. It will align to a couple of pins that I mount in the front of the amp housing and secure with some guitar case style latches.

It’ll be several weeks before I get home, but that gives me time to plan.

We all like pics, so here’s a few pics of the Champion 30. Without even removing a single screw I already can tell that some of the solder points on the circuit board are going to need attention. The pots seem really scratchy, hopefully they can just be cleaned.

Many many thanks to all the YouTube folks who provide access to information in such a pleasant format, like this:


E45E43A1-E34A-43F1-A63E-DF407A52EF12.jpeg
A13A30E8-07F6-4323-B4EB-3A8CA850D4F1.jpeg
 
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dbrian66

Dr. Squier
Jul 14, 2017
9,741
Maryland, USA
I can’t wait to see what you come up with! I will be watching this thread.

I got a champion amp recently for $25. Didn’t even test it. Just gave the guy cash and brought it home. It was pretty clean, but had issues. A couple YouTube videos and a soldering iron later, it’s a decent sounding amp! Here is a thread of what was wrong if you get bored!

 

speelyei

Squier-holic
Sep 22, 2020
1,100
North America
I can’t wait to see what you come up with! I will be watching this thread.

I got a champion amp recently for $25. Didn’t even test it. Just gave the guy cash and brought it home. It was pretty clean, but had issues. A couple YouTube videos and a soldering iron later, it’s a decent sounding amp! Here is a thread of what was wrong if you get bored!

I’m on the same path! I’m hoping my new Champion clean-up goes just like yours did.

I hope it works out, otherwise I’ll have some buyers remorse. I kinda wish I’d held out for another good clean 25r. Those are pretty uniformly dismissed on forums and reviews, but mine sounds great.
But, if the Champion responds to a little attention, it might surprise me?
 

Lanaka

Squier-holic
Feb 11, 2020
2,266
Honolulu, HI
I have a 25-R...but I wanted something with a 1x12 and more wattage that could keep up with a live band situation, so I got a Princeton 112 Plus solid state....the Princeton handles loud volume a bit better, but honestly I prefer the tones out of the Frontman. It's a great sounding amp.

Tried the Frontman 212? I dunno, but assume, there's a Frontman 1x12 version. I love these beasts. They certainly are loud enuff to keep up with an overly enthusiastic drummer! 😉😁

FSR Frontman 212R in red tolex.
Fender_Frontman_212R-FF-C(1600x1000).jpg

FM212DSP
Fender_FM212DSP-FF-(1600x1000).jpg

FM100H
Fender_FM100H-FF-(1600x1000).jpg

I'm planning to swap the head portion of the FM212DSP and the FM100H so I effectively have a "Frontman 212-100H" and a "FM100H-DSP." Then I can use the 212R and the 212H* as a stereo wet/dry rig. And I'll either store the DSP head or sell it.**

* The 212H will have an adaptor plug installed that will allow me to connect an external head that will also automatically disconnect the internal head from the drivers. This way I can also use my 1960s Silvertone 1484 with the cab side of the 212H combo. In this case the red 212R will swap role from being the drive side of the wet/dry to the modulation side whilst the 1484 piggybacking the black 212H will take over the drive duties.

Silvertone1484-AAZC(4000x2000).jpg

** In case anyone is wondering, I'm doing the swap because the FM212DSP had a tiny but noticable delay in it's output when running parallel to the 212R. I think the DSP circuit is introducing a tiny delay, even if it's turned off. I WAS gonna just buy a FM212 or a regular Frontman 212 OR ideally another red Frontman 212R. But after a long whiles, only the FM100H showed up on CL. After finding out the head portions are all identical chassis-wise I decided to buy it and swap the heads. Only thing I'll need to move from the DSP head to the 100H is the speaker leads and the connections to the head, and maybe, the lower chassis of the head itself. I've already tested the FM100H plugged directly to the FM212DSP's speakers and confirmed no noticable delay on the output compared to the 212R.
 

grizzlewulf

Squier-holic
Dec 11, 2020
3,127
Lucerne, California
The 212 Frontman would probably be awesome for me @Lanaka I just got the Princeton because it was available locally, limited inventory round here. I'm also pretty satisfied now with my PA direct tone, so I'd probably just use my PA if I had a chance to jam with someone.... either way, the Princeton is up for sale locally. It'd be a good amp for someone who needs bright and clean tones at volume, maybe a country band, etc. Just not quite what I was looking for.
 

Lanaka

Squier-holic
Feb 11, 2020
2,266
Honolulu, HI
The 212 Frontman would probably be awesome for me @Lanaka I just got the Princeton because it was available locally, limited inventory round here. I'm also pretty satisfied now with my PA direct tone, so I'd probably just use my PA if I had a chance to jam with someone.... either way, the Princeton is up for sale locally. It'd be a good amp for someone who needs bright and clean tones at volume, maybe a country band, etc. Just not quite what I was looking for.

Yeah, the Frontmans are loud and clean sounding. Great for use with pedals! Their gain sounds are meh ok, but that's not why I bought them.

The PAs are probably basically identical in functionality as the Frontmans. I think I probably could use my Frontman/FM 212s as PA speakers! The stock drivers are designed to be clean speakers that don't color the tone of the amp section, at least, not until ye really crank them. The amp section is also exceptionally clean, unless ye hit the "gain" or the "more gain" channels.

Personally, I think the gain/more gain are sorta eeeh "ok" but a bit sterile. I prefer sticking my VT999 Behringer Vintage Tube Monster pedals, one in front of each amp in the wet/dry rig. and run both amps in the clean channel. This way the amps provide the volume, whilst my pedals and guitars provides the tone. Aside the VT999, all of my fuzz/distortions/drive/boost pedals goes into one, whilst all my modulation pedals (delays, echos, chorus, flangers, octaves, boosts, etc.) goes into the other.
 

Lanaka

Squier-holic
Feb 11, 2020
2,266
Honolulu, HI
I had the Frontman 212. It’s “eviction notice” loud. I felt it was a tremendous value for the money, but as a bedroom player, it was a bad fit. Sold it, finally, but it took a long time to find a buyer.

LOL, that's a perfect description for the 212! "Eviction Notice Loud," indeed! I've also call it "House Exploding Loud" too.

I cannot turn it past 2 without the wooden walls and jalousie windows of my place starting to vibrate from the SPL. I'm actually afraid of making the glass in windows shatter (which starts happening at 3-4 😱) and perhaps make the walls collapse (never tried and never will). Highest I've ever went was a 5 and briefly at that. Things hanging on walls start jumping off at that point. 😳

Still I kept my Red Raging Frontman 212R, I named it ʻUlanui, literally "Big Red." The FM212DSP is named ʻElenui, or "Big Black."
 

Lanaka

Squier-holic
Feb 11, 2020
2,266
Honolulu, HI
I have 2 Fender 25R amps. They both have ext speaker jacks. If they had a FX loop they would be perfect.

Now that sux! I like using the FX loop for my pedals! And was keeping an eye out for the Frontman 25R, if I ever see a decent one for sale here. At least one in clean/intact state. Saw one once but it looked like the thing was kicked down a long stairs into a cesspool. Took one look and said "NOPE!" I ain't touching that!
 

speelyei

Squier-holic
Sep 22, 2020
1,100
North America
Got the Champion 30 home in my suitcase.

Got it cleaned off a bit and popped it apart. The seller told me it had an aftermarket speaker. Any guesses what brand this is? That’s a brown textured paint, not rust:
EC2FFAF8-4088-4FDB-8FDD-D794D6329FB8.jpeg

Pulled it all apart, and there were some dust bunnies and bug exoskeletons inside. No sign of arcing or burning anywhere.
D15A3FE2-157B-466E-A78A-D6EDC5AC6168.jpeg

Took a bunch of reference pics and pulled the board out.

27B23F80-2477-4BCB-A568-66F509ECE547.jpeg
Much to my surprise, all the contacts and soldering looked great. Off to the store for some contact cleaner.
Sprayed out all the pots, gave everything another look, and let it dry for about 3 hours. Reassembled it, and took it in the house. Sounds great! Previous issues on the clean channel (Audible even at 0, jumps in volume, scratches) are all gone. The effects all sound better, and the amp sounds fuller. The dirty channel sounds great too.
 

Naked Strat Brat

Squier-Meister
Gold Supporting Member
Mar 27, 2022
419
North, Snow, UFO Ville!
Craig has $160.
He buys a Frontman 25r for $60, and is pleasantly surprised at how good it sounds.
Impressed by his good fortune, he then contacts a seller with a Sidekick Reverb 25, and this amp costs Craig $29.
On the same day he buys a Champion 30 for $60. Both of these amps are purchased on his lunch break and he doesn’t have adequate time to consider them. He’s overconfident because the 25r was such a good buy, regardless of what reviewers or tube-only people think.
Well…
The Sidekick is basically a lemon, and a few hours later Craig gives it to the man who salvages cans and things from the dumpster.
The Champion is passable, but needs help. It hums and the knobs seem loose, and the amp has a peculiar smell. It’s effects are somewhat underwhelming.

Now Craig is watching videos about troubleshooting and reviving solid state combo amps.
But, he’s got an idea, and it’s a good one. You’ll see.

Alright, off to bed with you now! Morning will come quick, and you want to be all rested up! Ni night!
Where did Craig find these deals?
 

fadetoz

Dr. Squier
Jun 29, 2011
6,127
USA
It's a bummer when you buy yourself problems. Just happened to my last week on the POD but I was lucky and it just needed a new power supply. I was hoping I wasn't going to have to send it back.
This thread makes me kind of want to get another Fender 212R just because it was loud and perfect for running my POD into.

I will resist...

Good luck on fixing that DSP....
 


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