Amplifiers are pretty interesting devices, you don’t give much thought to them but they essentially become a part of the family. For bass guitarists, it is still the same, especially the amplifier you start with. There are some interesting amplifiers out there, some better suited for starters, but the Fender Rumble 40 has always been a great option for smaller bass amplifiers. Fender has the Rumble Series for a long time now and we know what to expect but still, the Fender Rumble 40 is praised as one of the most excellent ones out there.
The Fender Rumble 40 is a combo bass amplifier and it is generally a smaller one compared to large amplifiers in the Rumble range. I have always been a fan of the Rumble series and to be honest, I have started playing bass guitar on the Fender Rumble 25, the first version that was released in 2003. This one here though is a bit larger a little more advanced than the one that I have played with, and if the reviews are to be trusted, the Fender Rumble 40 is something to be reckoned. While I don’t doubt Fender, its budget range amplifiers have been a little lacking in terms of sound and features. But the Fender Rumble 40 looks to be reasonably priced and I think that it can deliver plenty of performance.
Specs and Features
While most beginner bassists will start on Rumble 15 or 25, that are a bit underpowered models, but just enough for practice. The Fender Rumble 40 has a bit more power, making it a perfect option for practice but some gigging as well. It has all the features and controls that make it a completely different amplifier than the smaller siblings. Also at that price, for 40 watts, you better deliver some excellent features so let’s check them out.
Like I said the Fender Rumble 40 is a 40-watt practice amp that puts it on the weaker end of the spectrum, but this one promises to bring out plenty of volume and depth. Some call this size basement friendly, and I think that is more than correct. The Fender Rumble 40 is also packed with a single 10-inch speaker that is from Fender’s upgraded range. For those that do not know, Fender had some problems in the past with smaller speakers, but it seems to have sort things out.
The biggest selling points of the Fender Rumble 40 are its excellent tonal shaping capabilities. Yes, the extra power is a nice thing to have, however, this is what makes this smallish amplifier a superb one for both beginners and experienced users. The Fender Rumble 40 has 4-band EQ settings that help you shape your sound to your needs, without any limitations. On top of that, it has 3-buttons for further sculpting palettes. For example, you can boost the highs to add a bit of twang to your sound, add a low-end bass boost, or opt for the classic bass tone with vintage character and tonal capability. These features put this amp into the higher end of the spectrum and allow you to freely explore the tonal capabilities of your bass guitar. This is also crucial for finding your sound which is a very important aspect of everyone’s musical journey. On top of that, the Fender Rumble 40 has built-in overdrive which will allow you to get hard and heavy with your sounds, proper Fender style.
I knew what I was getting with the Fender Rumble 40, as I had some prior experience with its smaller sibling. The Fender Rumble 40 looks like a pretty simple bass amplifier with the cube shape that is pretty attractive. This amplifier is wrapped with some nice vinyl though, which is of the highest quality and feels nice to touch. I should also state that this one is very well made with a plywood box, with sealed enclosures and vented ones as well. It is a great amplifier that can handle plenty of abuse. It is not large measuring 12×16.5×16.5-inches in total and weighs just 18 pounds so you can carry it easily from your band van to the venue and vice versa. On the front, you will see the classic Fender look with the silver mesh grille and the Fender logo on the top left side.
On top of the device, you will spot the handle for carrying the device easily, and I reckon that you can easily carry the Fender Rumble 40 in one hand and your bass guitar on the other hand without any difficulty. The controls of the Fender Rumble 40 are located on the top as well on a metal plate that connects with the back part of the amp. It doesn’t have the classic Rumble dials though which is a bit disappointing, but we will let it slide. On the control panel, you will spot the input plug, then comes the gain knob which has three buttons near it, the Bright, Contour, and Vintage buttons for tonal shaping. After that, you will spot the dials for the overdrive channel and the button for it, I would also suggest you buy the Fender 1-Button Contemporary Footswitch for surfing between channels on the fly, as the button may be a bit difficult to reach. After that, you will see the 4-band EQ which consists of the Bass, Low Mid, High Mid, and Treble knobs, and the master volume knob in the end. On the back, there are also inputs for adding pedals, headphones, or a tape recorder for example.
As a bassist, I like to stick with the classic tones of my Fender Player Jazz Bass which is as traditional as it comes. But I tried to extensively see what the Fender Rumble 40 delivered in terms of tonal shaping. What impressed me the most was the overdrive, which delivered a superb dirty channel with plenty of grit in it. Combined with the Electro-Harmonix Bass Soul Food Bass Distortion pedal it worked wonders and I got to admit I had plenty of fun with it. The extra tone functions also worked very well, especially the Vintage mode, which delivered a delicious classic one.
The Fender Rumble 40 comes as definitely the most impressive model when it comes to tonal shaping for beginners. Plus with the extra power in it, you can gig with it without any problem, in smaller venues though. It is a pretty solid option and I am surprised by my self why I haven’t considered this one earlier. Definitely well worth its price. If it was a little prettier it would be the best one ever at this price.