Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fender Rumble 350 2x10 Bass Combo Amplifier Review

Howdy!

Things have changed a lot in the amplification world since I bought my first bass combo, a Peavey TNT 150. Technology and construction have improved so that these amps are more efficient and powerful, not to mention lighter, than ever before. This holds even for entry-level units, such as the Fender Rumble 350 2x10 bass combo amplifier that we are looking at today.

The Rumble 350 combo not terribly huge, measuring 25” tall by 23” wide by 14” deep. It is covered in black vinyl with a metal grille, and it weighs in at around 65 pounds – so much for that stuff I was saying about new amps being lightweight. It does include removable casters, which are a godsend until you get to that first staircase. There are spring-loaded handles for when it comes time to tackle that staircase or when you are loading it into the back of your mom’s minivan.

As you probably guessed from the name, this is a 350-watt amp (at 8 Ohms). This is a solid-state unit, and it has a variable-speed fan to keep it cool. The power is output through two 10-inch Fender Special Design speakers (whatever that means) and a piezo horn, which can be switched off.

The front control panel has plenty going on. Only one input is provided, and it has a -6dB pad switch. There is a switchable overdrive section with a gain control and a blend knob that mixes the clean and the overdriven signals. Tone shapers include two preset switches (Punch and Scoop) as well as a three band EQ with a semi-parametric mid control (level and frequency).

There are a few extras, too, including an effects loop, A pair of AUX IN RCA jacks, a ¼-inch headphone out, the footswitch jack, and an XLR line out with a ground lift switch. There is also the horn ON/OFF switch and the power switch (on the front!). I really like that they included the RCA jacks and headphone jack, as it is sometimes nice to plug in a CD or MP3 player and practice silently.

Fender is bucking current trends, as there is not much to be found on the back except for an IEC power cable socket. Surprisingly, there are no speaker outs.

I tried out the Rumble350 with a few different basses with vastly different outputs, including a passive Precision Bass, a Sadowsky vintage P, and a Musicman Bongo 4H. Without overdrive, the amp did not color the tone of the instruments, and I had no complaints at all. The sound had a warm character to it, and this would be a good amp for classic rock or blues.

The two shaping presets are a bit of a mystery to me. I tried them out with a variety of playing styles, including the hated popping and slapping, and could not get comfortable with the tone it produced. I had a lot better luck using the EQ knobs to get to where I needed to be.

Well, I do not usually use overdriven sounds, but I tried out those controls, and I liked having the option of turning the function on or off with a footswitch. It worked reasonably well on the Fender and the Sadowsky. All bets were off when I plugged in the Bongo as its 18-volt preamp distorted the crap out of this thing, and not in a good way (even with the pad switch pressed). It would probably be acceptable for harder rock or metal, as long as you do not need too much volume from the combo itself.

All of this is with the volume set at less than 50%. Up to this point the amp played very loud, which would certainly be enough for a small club, or to hear yourself onstage if you are running the bass through the PA too. With or without the overdrive, at over 50% the speakers started to fart out, and there was not more usable volume to be found. It is a shame that there are no extra speaker outputs…

The Fender Rumble 350 2x10 bass combo is a loud enough for small to medium gigs, and though its tone is not the greatest, it will get the job done if you are not too picky. If you look at Fender’s bass amp offerings there are not many choices, so they really need to step up their game if this is the best they can come up with. This amp has a list price of $649, and a street price of $499. For sure you should try it out BEFORE buying.

Mahalo!

1 comment:

  1. I played through a few different rumbles when I sidelined in music retail. I thought they were all dookie.

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