Fender Rumble 100 and 500

Duff Battye puts two of Fender’s new Rumble combo series to the test. Will they make the earth move for him?

Fender Rumble

The 2014 NAMM trade show in California saw guitar and amp giant Fender launch their Rumble series of bass amps. Specifically designed as a lightweight portable amp range, they’ve included combos with 500, 200, 100, 40, 25 and 15-watt outputs, as well as separate Rumble 500 and 200 heads and 410 and 115 cabinets. This month we’re testing the Rumble 500 and Rumble 100 combos. Will the range stack up against the competition?

Build Quality
As you’d expect from Fender, the build quality of the two amps on test is very high. The combos both feature a lovely silver logoed front grill, a thing of beauty. This can be removed, which is a bit of a faff, but it does give the speaker nerds among us a different option. In line with the classic feel of the silver grill, the control buttons are a tasty ivory colour and are both chunky and robust. Both the 500 and 100 feature the same basic controls – input, gain and master, and four tonal controls – bass, low-mid, high-mid and treble. There’s a range of effects: bright, contour and vintage ‘voicing palette’ settings and an inbuilt overdrive with an on/off button plus drive and level controls. On the back of the units, both have an effect loop, line out and inputs for headphones, optional footswitch and aux in, but the 500 also features an external speaker output and horn tweeter.

In terms of build, Fender has really nailed the key to a portable amp combo – the weight. When these combos first arrived I assumed they had sent the wrong models, as they are so light. The Rumble 100 comes in at only 22lb with the Rumble 500 not much more at 36lb. Gone are the backbreaking days of lugging amps up and down stairs. Both combos have enough capability sound-wise for most situations, with the added benefit of being easily movable.

Fender Rumble 100

Sounds And Playability
The smaller Rumble’s 100 watts of power are channelled through a 12” Fender Eminence speaker. For a lightweight amp it has a lot of power, certainly enough for a small gig or practice situation. The signal remains clear as you push up both gain and master controls. The four tonal options tangibly affect the sound, which is a relief as a shortcoming of many small combos is their lack of tonal options. The speaker did struggle when bass and master were touching max: not a problem encountered by its bigger brother, which – allowing two 10” Eminence speakers with the option of feeding an external speaker – steps up without losing definition. This amp is loud, and certainly suitable for most gigging situations.

Standard tonal controls aside, the added extra effects are slightly disappointing: the ‘vintage sounds’ button adds warm fuzz to the amp, in line with its classic styling, but the bright option seems to remove much of the bass oomph and the contour option adds little but flattens the standard sound. Of course, it’s a moot point whether internal overdrive/distortion effects ever really offer anything significant, but the Rumble series will do little to undo that argument. This is a shame as the standard sound of the amp is so strong and clear.

Conclusion
Fender have set out to produce a portable, lightweight, powerful series of bass amps. The weight, clean sounds and tonal options of the Rumble 100 and Rumble 500 suggest that they have succeeded with ease. However, for some reason they have felt the need to include some fairly redundant effect options. These are good amps, but had they been simpler, they might have been great ones.  

Technical Specification

Fender Rumble 100

Price | £298.80

Power | 100 watts

Speaker | 12” Eminence, removable grill

EQ | Four-band

Effects | Bright, Contour and Vintage controls; Overdrive circuit with on/off, drive and level

Features | Effects loop ¼” send and return

Inputs | 1/8” aux input, optional footswitch input

Output | 1/8” headphones out

Weight | 22lb

Rumble 500

Price | £598.80

Power | 500 watts

Speakers | 2x 10” Eminence, removable grill

EQ | Four-band

Effects | Bright, Contour and Vintage controls; Overdrive circuit with on/off, drive and level

Features | Effects loop ¼” send and return

Inputs | 1/8” aux input, optional footswitch input

Outputs 1/8” phones out, external speaker output with ground lift

Weight | 36lb

 

 

 

Posted in Reviews

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