Reviewed: Fender Rumble 800 HD Bass Amplifier

Fender Music Australia | fender.com.au | RRP: $999

When I was growing up and learning an instrument, Fender were considered as royalty. Our high school music room was stocked with Squiers, and the rehearsal rooms were filled with budget Fender amps that still resembled the crisp and full sounds of the higher end Twin Reverbs or the Bassman. The Fender Rumble was one such amp - even in the 00’s it was a great workhorse amp for musicians of any level, even for barely beginners such as ourselves.

Now a mainstay of Fender’s bass range, the Rumble has slowly been rebuilt and diversified for the modern market. The Rumble 800 HD Bass Amplifier is one such example of this. An 800 watt Class D amplifier with onboard EQ and overdrive, as well as a bunch of input and output options that make it a great product even before I mention that it’s small enough to fit into a hardcase that travels with your pedalboard. The 800 HD is the flagship of the Rumble’s new series of heads, match perfectly with their range of cabinets, and if 800 watts is excessive, it’s available in 200 and 500 watt versions.

 

Opening the box revealed a pleasantly tidy package of a product. The 800 HD is lightweight, extremely portable and inconspicuous. The enclosure feels solid and looks sleek, housing the eight knobs that make up the front panel and multitude of options that comprise the back. From left to right, you’ve got an input before the Gain and some handy tone shaping controls at the push of three different buttons, then the overdrive. It’s not a given that bass amps will feature overdrive on board, but for a modern market, Fender is ahead of the game. The overdrive features Drive and Level controls, an on/off switch and a handy bright red LED that signifies the circuit’s activity. The overdrive itself remains fairly static in volume, and so the Level can be used to either push or pull back your the volume with the overdrive, which can also be controlled via foot switch. The four-band EQ section sits beside this, affecting low, low mid, high mid and treble, before finally reaching the master output, red power LED and iconically styled Fender ‘Rumble 800’ logo. The back panel allows connectivity for parallel speakers, with a maximum output of 800 watts @ 4 ohms. The DI out has a ground lift, as well as a handy pre/post preamp section for recording a super clean DI, or a more dialled one if you choose.

 

 

 

The front panel controls are easy to navigate and dial very quickly. Magnetic feet nestle the 800 HD into a matching Rumble cabinet if you choose, and assist in keeping the head stationary at all times. The tone shaping controls offer a bright control for high end and attack boost, but also a contour and vintage control. The contour offers a more modern, scooped style of EQ, while the Vintage control, offers a low mid bump and a little more size without distorting. The vintage button offers a particularly 70s style of growl and super low lows. Even beyond this, the four band EQ offers more accurate EQ bands than a standard three band might allow for. The overdrive channel can then be used to tie it all together as much or as little as you’d like, but even pushed doesn’t get too nasty.

 

The Rumble 800 HD Bass Amplifier is the bass amp that dreams are made of. It’s compact, immensely powerful, lightweight and packs more routing options than you’d realistically need - but they’re always there. Simple controls, clear faceplate and a well laid out pre-amp section allow for super fine tuning of tone to create the perfect mix for your next gig, and probably a lot more after that. Dial in your tone, punch in some contour or vintage colour, push the overdrive and rest assured your head isn’t going anywhere once it’s secured atop a matched Fender Rumble cabinet. For beginners and professionals alike, the Rumble series offers a solution, either in small or large cabinet or increasingly powerful heads, a crescendo that ends in the Rumble 800 HD Bass Amplifier.

Hits and Misses

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Simple controls

Onboard overdrive

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