Fender bass amps don’t have the kind of global stage presence as the likes of Ampeg or Hartke, but it would be silly for them not to at least try and make something for bassists to make some noise when they make such good basses.
The Rumble series has been on the go for a while now. Suffice to say, if they were terrible they wouldn’t be! Let’s take a closer look and see who the Rumble 40 might be for.
At this price, it looks like Fender is aiming the Rumble series – including the 40 – at the affordable end of the market. Here are the main specs your dollar will get.
10” Fender Special Design
18 lbs (8.16 kg)
Nothing too shocking there. One cool feature that I like is that it the mids section of the EQ is split into low mids and high mids, giving you a little more tone-shaping at your fingertips. It also has a voicing section, which we’ll look at a little later.
Bassists on a budget who aren’t playing arenas.
The size and weight of the Rumble 40 make it ideal for home use. It won’t take up your entire living room, and will comfortably project noise without shattering windows or waking neighbors.
At the same time, it’s that size and weight that probably makes it a good bet for those playing bars or small clubs. They need some power behind their sound but don’t need to reach people half a mile away. It also won’t take up much of the precious onstage real estate of the smaller stages of such venues. Your drummer will be delighted.
Out of the box, the Rumble 40 smells vaguely like a new car. That can be chalked up to the black vinyl covering. Did you know you can use the same spray for cleaning inside your car for cleaning your amp?
Typical of the vast majority of amps, it comes with plastic knobs on a metal control plate. There’s nothing wrong with that, but – and this is purely personal – I think these particular knobs look ugly. And cheap. But it’s a budget amp, so I guess that’s OK. I’m going to put that thought aside though – amps are for listening to.
It’s a classic looking amp. The black vinyl is clean, and it comes with chrome corner plates holding it all together, matched with a silver Fender logo in its top front left corner.
I spy a few other elements that are nice to see. It sounds like a basic feature, but you’d be surprised how many amp come without a headphone jack! It reinforces its status as an amp appropriate for home use. Additionally, it has an XLR line out – perfect for live situations or recording.
So far so good. It’s got everything you need. But how do all these parts hold together?
As you’d expect from a brand like Fender, they take the build quality of their instruments pretty seriously. With the price of the Rumble 40, you can tell it’s not going to be US made. Quite frankly, if you were basing things on looks alone, you wouldn’t know any better.
When an amp is aimed at gigging musicians, construction quality is even more important. It’s got to be able to take being taken from a house or practice room to a car or van, to a venue, probably getting moved multiple times in the venue, then back to a car or van, and finally back to a house or practice room.
That’s a lot of getting moved around that it needs to be able to take! If it isn’t well constructed, it will fall apart. Obviously, I don’t have the capacity to do that in the context of this review. What I can say, is that everything looks like it’s held in place as solidly as it could and should be. Lifting it by the handle and giving it a gentle jerk, it seems like it’d be fine for more than a few shows.
Yay! Time to make some noise! I’m a very straightforward person when it comes to the sound of my musical instrument, and I like to keep it simple. I know what I like. At the same time, I’m intrigued by the various options available on the Rumble 40.
Apart from the standard stuff like master volume and EQ settings, a couple of things on the Rumble have caught my eye that I’m keen to play with.
Foremost of these is the overdrive circuit. I’m a devil for an overdriven bass. Ordinarily, I’d assume the use of a pedal for such matters – I feel like it’s not a common feature on bass amps. I also favor super-fuzzy bass sounds, so let’s see how far I can take this.
I’m used to guitar amps having separate clean and overdrive channels, but in the case of the Rumble 40, it’s not so much a separate channel, more of a circuit that you either engage or disengage. You can use a button on the amp’s control panel, or a footswitch. The footswitch isn’t included. Fender’s single-button switch should do the job, and you can pick one up for less than $15.
Pushing the switch, I liked the overdrive of the Rumble 40, but I can’t say that I loved it. Compared to a proper bass fuzz pedal… it’s hard to explain, but it just wasn’t it. I don’t feel like it was as fat as my favored fuzz bass would be. It’s a good place to start exploring the overdriven bass sound, but let it be known that you can go further.
Of the three voicing settings, vintage was definitely my favorite. It claims a tube emulation, which in the context of things I’ll let them off with, but it’s hardly running it through a Reddi. The bright setting, as the name suggests, boosts the high end of the tone. I’ve never been into that. The contour setting scoops out your mids. Again, I’m not a fan. I like a full, fat bass sound.
In that last section, I may have not been happy with all the options at my disposal on the Rumble 40. But I feel like that goes back to the fact that I know what I like – I’ve been doing this a while!
But this amp isn’t really aimed at me. The cost of this amp is what makes it ideal for those who haven’t been playing bass quite so long, and it’s the in-bult options that will help them listen to different tones, and figure out their own sound.
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I’m a big fan of Laney amps, and their RB2 is very much in the same ballpark as the Rumble 40. It clocks in at 30 watts compared to the Rumble’s 40, but shares the speaker size of 10 inches.
The RB2 is more of your standard bass amp. No fancy voicing or overdrive, just your EQ setting to shape your tone. It has two inputs, normal and high, better suited to different pickup outputs. Need a little extra kick? It’s got a compressor built in at the push of a button. Speaking of kick, it has an angled back for a “kickback” design. This is better for venues where you can’t raise the amp, so you can angle its sound towards your head.
Probably the most respected bass amp brand ever is Ampeg. If you like the idea of having that iconic brand in your backline, then you might want to take a look at their BA-110. Its specs seem like a combination of both the Rumble and the RB2: it has a 40-watt output, 10-inch speaker, and simple EQ.
Probably the most outstanding feature of the BA-110 is its rugged design. Honestly, I think it might be bulletproof. It’s got a steel chassis and impact resistant metal corners. What’s funny is that Ampeg describes it on their website as lightweight and portable… but it clocks in at 34 lbs. That’s double the weight of the Rumble 40!
There are some other options available in low wattage, low space amps. You can also check out the Orange Crush 50 for bass, and Hartke’s HD25.
Apart from those ugly knobs, I really can’t fault it.
Many gigging bassists will likely sneer at the 40 watts, and let’s face it: we all want to believe that we need at least 100 watts for a thundering bass sound. You really don’t though.
This is a smashing amp for bassist figuring themselves out. Quiet enough for home, practice, and small venues. Realistically, venues will be making use of that XLR output to run it through the PA.