3/22/2015

Review: Fender Rumble 40 Bass Amp


Well, the grill cloth tain't stock, that's for sure! I put that on the other day.

I've been using one of my PA units as a bass amp while I've been hunting for something portable and practical (since when we play "live" I usually just put a bass direct-in to the mixer board with a tube pre in front of it). I stumbled on the Rumble 40 while actually checking out lightweight bass heads (I have plenty of vintage 12" cabs on hand), but at the price point I simply couldn't argue with its super weight (18 lbs!!!) and all that control customization available on Rumble v3 units.



This has a 4-band EQ and the two mid settings are very useful if you're a player like me and want to imitate some of the "board noise" rhythm you get out of an upright bass while playing on an electric. 

Aside from that, the overdrive channel is actually usable in that it retains a lot of bottom-end warmth. This is something that's not always true with overdrive channels on bass amps. This is solid-state, of course, but I can't complain. I doubt anyone in an audience would know the difference vs. tube drive after you plug this through a PA and are competing with other players.

There are also 3 buttons: bright, contour, and vintage which activate tone circuits. I keep mine on "bright" to get more clarity and precision out of my sort-of swampy low, clear high setup (30" scale with flatwounds and a lipstick pickup). The "contour" setting gives a scooped mids/high setting while the "vintage" boosts lows and creates a big old... thud... like you'd expect from a traditional bass amp.


...but what's this? Headphone out? 1/8" in for jamming? And a footswitch for the 'drive? Plus... my favorite bit... line out in an actual XLR with ground lift button. As someone who's foregone big amps and uses an amp as a personal monitor rigged to the PA when "live," all this stuff is what I like to see.

That said, this is no flyweight: it puts out plenty of power for coffeehouse to smaller venue stuff but will certainly not have enough juice to do rock clubs. But if you're of the modern mindset you're going to be going to the PA mains for most of your sound anyway, so why lug hundreds of pounds of gear when this will do that same work for you?

My vote = it's got me excited to practice in off-hours. Enough said!

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