Hands-On Review:Fender Rumble Series Amps Review
Real-deal bass amps for rock-bottom price
By Dal Carver
Fender bass amps may not loom as large as their legendary basses, but they long ago set the standard. In the old days, if you played a Jazz or Precision, you very likely played it through a Bassman. Even today, an old Bassman is considered a choice amp-not heavy on the wattage but unbeatable for sweet tube tone. And Fender has never been one to rest on its laurels. The modern Bassman amps employ state-of-the-art technology to achieve incredible power and tonal flexibility while still paying tonal homage to the original. With such an impressive track record on the bass side of things, it is an occasion worth noticing when Fender introduces a new line.
Fender's new Rumble bass amp line proves the point. The Rumble combos are very attractively priced and even at first glance show promising features: carpet coverings, oversize corner protectors, heavy metal grilles, and cabs that seem plenty solid. They also have a big Fender logo plate on the front that gives even an affordable amp a certain cachet. Its design is that of the original Fender bass amp logo, as Fender gets back to its bass roots.
There are basically four sizes of Rumbles: a 15-watter with an 8" speaker, and a 25-watter with a 10" speaker that fall pretty much in the practice-amp category. Then there are 60-watt and 100-watt models, both of which clearly qualify as gigging amps. The 60-watter has a 12"; the 100 has a 15" woofer and horn.
Little amps that can
The Rumble 15 is clearly a practice amp, but it's a good one. As long as you don't over-crank it, you get a tight, surprisingly full sound. With CD inputs, you can easily play at a comfortable but subdued volume along with music. If you need to get really quiet, headphone outs allow silent practice. It's a compact little bugger-easy to live with-and solidly built, just like the bigger Rumble combos.
The 25 is a notch larger and more versatile. It has all the practice-friendly features of the 15 (CD input, headphone out, compact size, etc.), but adds an effects loop and enough power for lower-volume group playing. It would be appropriate for church, folk back-up, semi-acoustic bands, quiet jazz, or general lower-volume jamming.
I liked the sound I got from it. Very tight. Its effects loop can function as a direct out for recording. It is a nice size for the studio and its 10" speaker gets a clean, focused sound that's well-suited for recording. All in all, this is a sweet little amp, perfect for serious practice and way better sounding than you'd expect for its modest price.
Free light show
The 25 gave me my first look at the Rumble stage lights. The 15 doesn't have them but the other three do. I wasn't aware of them before I started playing the amp, so I was surprised when I noticed the row of red LEDs glowing inside the bottom port. Then I noticed that the lights pulsed as I played. Sure, it's a gimmick... but it's a cool gimmick. As you play, this row of LEDs pulses with the heavy notes, and hence the beat. Gives the audience something to look at, and if you're practicing alone in your room late at night, they not only create ambience when you dim the lights, they also help you keep time. Visual reinforcement.
The big boys
The other two Rumble combos are a 60-watt with a 12" speaker, and a 100-watt with a 15". Both can be classed as gigging amps, and both step-up in features to a more professional level. Each adds an XLR line out, the EQ is upped to 4 bands, and a mid-scoop switch is added for quick trips to the land-o-funk. The Rumble 100 also adds a piezo horn tweeter.
With a 12" speaker driven by 60 watts, the Rumble 60 produces a compact tone with very clear lows. It is not an amp you want for loud rock or reggae, but it is highly versatile: funk, fusion, country, and jazz applications; practice, lower- volume rehearsals and gigs; and studio session work. It's an amp that's built for intermediate bassists, has many features pro players demand, and is priced for beginners. Cool.
If you plan to gig or need to play over rock drums, the 100 is the amp you want. Like the 60, it is equipped for pro use. It drives a custom-built Fender 15 and piezo tweeter with 100W of power. It has four tone controls. It also has a mid-scoop switch for a quick, easy tone change. I like the scoop sound it gives you-a very usable tone for different musical styles. If you play rock or metal, you probably want some mid growl. Just leave the mid scoop off and tweak the mid knobs for the degree of edge you need.
The 100 gets plenty loud. I couldn't turn it all the way up without shaking my crib to shreds. I can't imagine a situation where it would fail to give you the stage volume you need. And if you do need to get louder, it has an XLR out for going to the board.
If you're a beginning or intermediate bassist looking for a decent amp at a low price, look no further. The Rumble amps are well-built, sound great, and their low prices make them about as accessible as amps can get. Fender makes it really easy to rumble. Check 'em out.
|All Rumble amps have|
|Rumble 15||Rumble 25|
|Rumble 60||Rumble 100|