I am not set up to do proper hardware reviews but since I wanted a small bass practice amp I researched them carefully and finally found an excellent comparison by bassbuzz.com on their YouTube channel. I urge you to watch and listen to this comparison of 5 top contenders your small bass amp dollar. I will tell you what I can about the amp — in fact, I bought one! — but to make up your own mind, you must hear it against several others. (Actually, I was leaning toward Ampeg before watching the video.) And if anything, the actual amp sounds better live than it does on the video. So thank you BassBuzz!
For some reason I have always avoided Fender amps. I used one in Godspell and found that a friend’s Peavey sounded even better at a much lower price. And I prefer my Mesa Boogie over any Fender Guitar amp. For bass I started off using a Roland keyboard amp that has a great low end, and then stepped up to a SansAmp for gigs that had good PA systems. So when it came time to look for a small practice bass Amp, Fender was low on the list. I pulled a big 180 on that idea!
I first started looking at the Rumble series when I saw them getting great reviews, especially the little Rumble 40 v3. Virtually every one I saw was FIVE STARS! Then I was finally hooked with this terrific comparison on YouTube that convinced me that the Fender at least deserved a close listen. Two problems: there is a pandemic on, and everywhere I looked they had sold out. Just the Rumble 40; it seems that every other size in the Rumble Series is available in most places. That was pretty impressive.
You can find the specs at Fender here. Just a quick summary: the amp is amazingly light, it has terrific tones, my 5-string Ibanez’s low B sounds just as present and clear as the high G string, and the separate overdrive controls let you play as overdriven as you want without knocking out the windows and without having to use earphones. I was most concerned about getting a good 5th-string sound out of a single 10″ speaker, and Fender’s “Special Design” speaker is amazing to hear. The other terrific feature is the separate overdrive section that let’s you get full overdrive sound at a low volume. (While I love the way my Mesa sings when lightly overdriven, it needs a level of volume that is just too loud for a family home at night.)
OK, on to the specs:
When I first saw the panel there were three little switches that I thought I’d never use: bright, contour, and vintage. Wrong again! BRIGHT really brings out the upper harmonics with a nice treble boost. CONTOUR scoops out the mids giving a rich tone that works great with overdrive as well as slapping. VINTAGE gives a darker, 60’s-like tone with some compression added. The way these switches revoice the amp is truly impressive.
I’ve skipped over GAIN, which controls the level of the incoming signal. This lets you adjust the preamp signal for most basses and also affects both distortion and overdrive. More on overdrive later.
First, the basic controls. MASTER is the overall volume control. A very cool feature is Fender’s built-in “Delt-Comp” limiter: turning the MASTER up high, or playing “more aggressively” triggers more compression and sustain, and it sounds great! The “tone controls” are more of a 4-band equalizer, with BASS, LOW MID, HIGH MID, and TREBLE. The extra control of the mid-range really makes a difference when you want a particular sound.
The OVERDRIVE button engages the overdrive circuit. DRIVE controls “the amount of harmonically rich preamp distortion” in the sound, while LEVEL controls the overdrive volume, as well as letting you set the overdrive distortion separately from the clean sound. A red LED shows that the overdrive is engaged.
The back panel has 1/8″ inputs for AUX IN (such as an MP3 player) and PHONES. There is a 1/4″ input for FTSW (footswitch), which allows you to turn on the OVERDRIVE remotely. The XLR LINE OUT lets you connect to an external PA or recording console, while finally a GROUND LIFT button helps with problems from improperly grounded equipment.
For those who don’t like the look of the Fender mesh speaker cover, it can be removed and put back easily via its velcro backing.
Of course none of this comes close to actually hearing the incredible breadth of sounds this amp can create, from the sweetest clean sounds to massively overdriven mania, the controls are very efficient at producing the full range of their functions. I wouldn’t hesitate taking this amp to the most important gig (of appropriate size), and at just 18 pounds, I could handle it and two basses easily.
SUMMARY: If you can find one, BUY IT.