Fender Rumble 100
Introduced about a decade ago, Fender’s Rumble line of combo amps was designed to offer power and portability at a reasonable price. True to form, the latest Rumble 100 provides all the tools a working bassist needs. It’s compact yet authoritative, competitively priced, and it can veer from springtime sweet to winter brash with a few small adjustments.
To Rumble is Human
The Rumble 100’s layout is one of the better I’ve seen on a combo amp. The front is dressed with Fender’s vintage-sparkle grille cloth, and the controls are wisely situated on the back edge of the amp’s top. (The ivory peanut-butter-cup knobs are a nice touch.) The only ornamentation is a simple Fender logo.
The control panel includes a gain control, three pushbutton tone presets (bright, contour, and vintage) and an overdrive section with drive and level controls. There’s 4-band EQ (with low-mid and high-mid controls) and master volume. The rear panel hosts inputs and outputs and the power switch. There’s effect send/return, a pair of 1/8" inputs (aux in and headphones), a jack for the optional footswitch, and an XLR out with ground-lift.
No Tumble, Just Rumble
The Rumble 100 is remarkably light—I could lift the 22-pound amp with a single finger. It earns top marks for portability.
Plugging in a ’78 Fender P immediately yielded great tones. I started with the EQ flat, where the amp gave the truest representation of my bass. The EQ provides excellent tone shaping, and I really dug the low-mid control, because some rooms need more of these frequencies for the bass to cut through. Meanwhile, the single 12" Eminence speaker can handle everything the 100-watt amp can throw its way without loss of punch.
The real fun, though, was cycling through the pushbutton options. The vintage setting does the amp justice with a bottom-end bump that eases up the tone’s warmth. It doesn’t necessarily cop the sound of a particular vintage model, but such tones are always welcome from a combo. The contour setting provides modern slap-friendly tones that lent my passive P an active feel. The bright setting is akin to a clarity switch, bringing my bass to life with just the right dose of added highs. You can use the voicing buttons alone or in combination, which can be very effective with the overdrive.
Fender didn’t equip the Rumble 100 with heavy overdrive, so you need a pedal for extreme tones. But the onboard overdrive breaks up the sound in just the right way, maintaining the integrity of the native bass tone. There’s a perfect amount of grit, and when paired with the tone switches, it can work wonders for such a compact amp. Engaging the bright switch with the overdrive dimed lends a cool, shiny guitar-like presence. (Given the current trend of two-member bands, who needs a guitarist?)
Fender’s Rumble 100 is a loud, smart combo that will make a nice fit in many a working bassist’s arsenal. Such a wide range of tones is refreshing, as is the simple layout and modest overall weight. Yes, this combo is definitely ready to rumble.
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