Fender FM210R

TG would flog the family silver to own an amp embossed with Leo Fender's signature.

Fortunately, for parents everywhere, getting the Fender FM210R into your setup won't necessitate such underhand tactics. Despite its cultured appearance and unbeatable kudos, this latest combo from the big 'F' weighs in at a mere £199.

If you lick envelopes for a living, it'll probably take you a month to earn that. If you practise international law, it'll take you about two hours. Either way, this 2 x 10 solid-state amp is your ticket into the Fender club. Let's just hope it doesn't sound like a backfiring Sköda.

The FM210R is a solid-state combo. With all due respect, Fender seems to have this model earmarked as a gig weapon for the up-and-coming guitarist.

That means it will probably spend its entire life being humped around in a Transit van, hoisted up stairs and dropped onto stages where it will have lager and cigarette butts strewn all over it.

Valve amps – for all their sonic advantages – are heavy and expensive. They also need cranking right up to get the best from their tone, which makes them impractical for anyone who doesn't live on a desert island.

Our advice? Don't sweat. If you like the FM210R's tone, nothing else matters.

In use

The FM210R doesn't like staying at home. It lives for the stench of snakebite and the roar of the crowd. As such, it would be a criminal waste of this amp's potential if you kept it locked away in your bedroom under a pile of dirty socks.

With a 65-watt power output and a pair of specially designed 10-inch speakers, there's enough grunt on offer here to leave small venues with a nasty ringing in their ears. You've also got two separate channels…

The FM210R features a Clean channel and a Drive channel. The basic idea is that you set the EQ levels for each and then swing between them via a stomp on the footswitch (not included).

In theory then, and without bending down to fiddle with your amp's front panel, you could move seamlessly from a chiming verse about how much you love your girlfriend, to a seething overdrive chorus about what a bitch she actually is.

It's a great feature, and exactly the kind of thing you'll use on the live circuit.

Keith Richards has always claimed that Fender amps sound best played with Fender guitars, so TG duly reached for our trusty Telecaster and slid the lead into Input 1 (it's got a lower sensitivity for non-active pickups).

Starting at the Clean channel, TG was impressed by the tone on offer. It really complements a singlecoil pickup when you bump up the treble and it brings out a bonafide country 'n' western twang when you dig in with a pick.

Cranking up the bass takes the edge off the bite nicely and ushers in the kind of depth and warmth that make chord sequences soar. The only slight letdown came when we tried the FM210R's spring reverb. It is a good effect to have in your arsenal, but we found it too subtle to create real atmospherics.

TG is a filth enthusiast. As such, we were shaking with anticipation as we jabbed the Channel Select button to take us over to the dark side. Starting out with the Drive dial on about 5, the FM210R delivered a creamy distortion that would be perfect for blues and parent-friendly rock.

Inevitably, we didn't hang around there for long. Edging the dial up to 8 was where things started to get really serious. Even played with a Telecaster, we could almost hear our riffs growing testicles and chest hair.

There's a great sense of beef at this sort of level - especially if you crank up the bass - and a useful metal 'scoop' when you hit the Mid Contour button.

MusicRadar Rating

4 / 5 stars
Pros

Distinguished tone. Sturdy builld. Great price.

Cons

Not the most versatile amp on the gear market.

Verdict

What you're looking at here is a genuine gig monster with a chunky output and tone so good that you shouldn't have to tweak it.

Audio Output Power

65

Available Controls

2 x Guitar Inputs Bass Channel Select Button Clean Channel Volume Mid Contour Button Power Output Reverb Treble

Channels

2

Country of Origin

China

Depth (mm)

230

Height (mm)

398

Weight (kg)

16.2

Width (mm)

565

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.