Looking for a 10-15watt amp but cannot decide between Fender Frontman 10g and the Vox Pathfinder 10? This detailed comparison will highlight their differences along almost every dimension you can imagine.
The main difference is that the Fender Frontman has a more crunchy sound in the overdrive channel while the Vox Pathfinder 10 has a warmer clean channel. Other differences include the Fender Frontman’s closed back vs Vox Pathfinder’s open back. The Fender Frontmas is also cheaper than the Vox.
For more detailed differences, read on.
Both the Fender Frontman and the Vox Pathfinder are solid state amps. They do not contain any tubes and do not need any warm up before using.
Below are significant differences in their components and amp design.
- Channels: Fender Frontman and Vox both have 2 channels. They comprise an overdrive and a clean channel. The big difference is that the gain knob can be activated while in clean channel on the Vox Pathfinder. This is not possible with the Fender. However, activating the gain on Vox’ s clean channel completely changes the tone such that it doesn’t sound as clean anymore.
- Speakers: Fender has a 4 ohm speaker while Vox Pathfinder has a 8 ohm speaker. The speaker in Fender is a special design while for Vox, it is a Bulldog speaker. The latter sounds better in general than the Fender stock speaker.
- Open/closed backs: Fender Frontman 10g has a close back while the Vox Pathfinder is open back. Both speakers are about 6 inches in size.
- Gain control: Vox Pathfinder has a gain knob that has different levels of gain control. Fender Frontman has only an on and off gain switch.
- Reverb: There are no reverbs on either one of the amp.
- Headphone Jack: Both amps have headphone jacks for bedroom practice.
- Price: Fender Frontman 10g cost about $60 while the Vox Pathfinder 10 is about $100. That is a 40% price difference.
- Clean tone: On the clean channel, the Vox Pathfinder sounds warmer and rich, and has a better bass respond (see below). In contrast, Fender Frontman sounds a bit static.
- Bass response: On the clean channel, Vox Pathfinder has a nicer bass response with a heavier thump even though it is an open back. Fender Frontman has a lighter bass response and even a slight ratting.
- Overdrive: Fender Frontman has a really crunchy dirty tone that can be achieve with the overdrive channel. It sound raw and angry, although not exactly at the heavy metal level. In comparison. the Vox Pathfinder’s overdrive channel need more work to get it right but still sounds more distorted than the Frontman.
- Loudness: On the maximum volume, the Vox Pathfinder registered a 115DB while the Fender Frontman did a 110DB.
How to use a Fender Frontman 10g amp?
As mentioned in the review, it excels at the overdrive channel. To get the best dirty tone in that channel, here is the recommended setting I used:
- Gain – Set to max
- Volume – Set to 4
- Bass – Set to max
- Treble – Set to max
This will give you a nice crunchy tone without waking up everyone in the house or your neighbor.
For the clean channel, there is not complicated set up. Just plug in, on the clean channel and adjust the volume. The bass can be a bit flat so you might want to increase the bass setting to the max. If you like more transparency in your tone, then just set the bass setting to minimal.
Can you used the Fender Frontman for non guitar use like violin or karaoke?
The answer is yes. It has inbuilt speakers and a standard input jack that most instruments can plug into. It also runs on normal power so you can just plug into any wall power.
With its simple set up, you can easily connect other instruments like violin and keyboard. It can even act as a karaoke speaker for a small room. Do note however, you will need to get your own cable that connect the instrument to the amp as the Fender Frontman only provide the power cable.
How to use a Vox Pathfinder 10 amp?
The Vox Pathfinder is best used for its warm and solid clean channel. There isn’t much to adjust except the volume and the bass. The default bass response is already very good so unless you are a bass lover, you can leave the settings as 3 or 4.
The main reason for Vox’s nice sound is its Bulldog speakers. Compared to the rest of these lunch box amps who carry stock speakers, these Vox speaker don’t sound mushy, unless you try to abuse it.
If you like to overdrive your playing, then here is how to toggle between the clean and overdrive channel:
- Start with the clean channel
- Play all the way until it becomes saturated
- Tag the gain on the clean channel
- Finally, roll it to the overdrive channel once the sound starts to saturated as well
If you are a beginner and wants a really affordable practice amp, I recommend the Fender Frontman 10g. Not only is it cheaper but the options are less confusing to use, especially its overdrive channel.
If you want something that sound warmer and have more options to play with, Vox is the choice. Note that it is more expensive and its overdrive channel needs some experience to bring out its best performance.
Regardless of which amp you choose, they are just practice amp. As such they have limited features such as not having a line out to connect to another speaker. There is also no foot switch for you to easily toggle between channels. Then again, if you are a beginner, all these should not matter.