The author is a guitarist and bassist with over 35 years of experience as a musician.
Fender Rumble 15 v3
This review takes a look at the Fender Rumble 15 v3. It's a little bass amp that sounds bigger than it should, and it's the perfect practice amp for newbies and veterans alike.
The Fender Rumble 15 fills a void in the bass amp world and has few rivals when it comes to sound, quality, and value. There are plenty of small bass amps out there, but many inexpensive, low-wattage combo bass amps aren’t constructed well enough to properly carry the full low-end range of even a four-string bass.
The result is a thin sound, and often a speaker and cabinet that sound like they’re ready to disintegrate.
There are also some really good small bass amps at high price points, but if you only have $100 to spend, you might feel like the situation is hopeless, and you’re limited to inferior amps that will have to be “good enough.” Fortunately, Fender's Rumble 15 might be exactly what you’re looking for.
The Fender Rumble Series amplifiers feature options ranging from wall-shaking 500-watt models down to the little guy of the line, the Rumble 15. In this review, I'll also take a look at a couple of other amps from Fender, the Rumble 25, and Rumble 40.
All are affordable, compact combos that will work well as a practice amp for any level of player. If you are a newbie on bass, matching the Rumble 15, Rumble 25, or Rumble 40 with one of the top bass guitars for beginners is a great way to build an inexpensive but high-quality first rig.
Bass Amps for Beginners
When beginners are looking for their first bass amp there is one piece of advice I always consider most important. That is, you should choose an amp that’s good enough to serve as a practice amp well into your career.
This means, even as a beginner, you shouldn’t be going with a cheap amp that sounds bad and falls apart when you hit the low E string. You need a piece of gear that lasts, and when you can keep on using it long after you’ve switched to a bigger main amp you’ll have gotten your money’s worth.
There are a lot of great small bass amps for beginners, so there is no reason for a newbie to settle for a sub-par first bass amp. In fact, the Fender Rumble Series has a few amps at the top of the list, but there are more great beginner bass amps from brands like Hartke, Ashdown, Ampeg, Eden, and others.
Fender Rumble 15 Construction
The Fender Rumble 15 v3 is a 15-watt combo amp with an 8-inch speaker. The cabinet is actually bigger than you might expect. Fender’s web site lists the dimensions as 14.96 inches wide, 14.96 inches tall, and 8 inches deep, and the weight at 16 pounds.
Compared to the previous Rumble 15 model, this amp is more square, and Fender has managed to shave off about six pounds. The old Rumble was a great little amp, but the v3 version is has a very cool vintage design, with controls mounted on top instead of on the face of the amp.
The Rumble 15 is a solid little bass amp, and its build comes through in the sound quality. This little amp is equipped with few features, but if you’re just looking for a small practice amp you don’t really need much that the Rumble 15 can’t provide.
Visually, I really like the look of the v3 Rumble series. Even though these amps have a vintage vibe, they still pack cutting-edge Fender technology. There's a new 3-button voicing palette in the larger Rumble models, improved speakers, and lighter enclosures.
Aside from the appearance of the amp, the Rumble 15 seems to be the Fender amp that has undergone the fewest changes. That's okay. The older model was a pretty impressive little amp, and the v3 version is carrying on the tradition.
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Rumble 15 v3 Features
- 3-Band EQ: Bass, Mid, Treble, that’s it. Parametric EQs and graphic equalizers are great on big amps, but for a little guy like this a functional, 3-band EQ is all you need.
- Headphone Jack: It’s nice to be able to plug in headphones. It’s a ¼-inch jack, so you don’t need an adapter to use studio-quality headphones.
- Auxiliary Input: Used for plugging in CD or MP3 players or other audio devices for practice. Again, the Rumble 15 v3 is intended as a practice amp, so this is a nice feature. You can jam with your favorite music and work on your chops.
- Volume Control: Even at moderate volumes the Rumble 15 has more than enough power to be heard alongside an acoustic guitar. If you’re looking for an amp for a band situation with a drummer you’re going to want something bigger anyway. This is a practice amp, and the best performance situation you should expect out of it is small coffee-house type gigs.
The Fender Rumble 15 is a rich, full-sounding amplifier, surprising for its size, and exactly what you need for a practice bass amp. Expect nothing less from Fender. This is one of the guitar and bass companies that set the standards in the music world, so it's no wonder even their smallest bass amps sound great.
You don’t necessarily have the EQ options for dialing in precise tones as you would with bigger amps, but what you do get sounds very good. If you play a four-string bass you should have no trouble with the low end. The sound is clear, deep, and plenty loud for a little amp. With a 5-string, as with most small amps, it may be necessary to back off on the bass frequencies.
Overall, if you go into your relationship with the Rumble 15 expecting it to be a basic practice amp, or possibly used for low-volume rehearsals, I think you’ll be quite pleased with the sound quality. If you feel like you need more tone-shaping you can experiment with pedals, such as an outboard graphic EQ.
You could also add a distortion pedal if you feel like you need overdrive. Or, you can skip the pedals entirely and step up to the Rumble 25, a slightly more powerful amp with overdrive and more advanced EQ controls.
Fender Rumble 25 v3
The Rumble 25 is part of the v3 Rumble Series. It's similar to the Rumble 15 but includes a few more features you might find useful. At a price bump of only 20 bucks or so, it might be just the amp you need.
The Rumble 25 is a bit larger and heavier than the Rumble 15, but still very light at 21 pounds. It pushes 25 watts through an 8-inch speaker. Like it Rumble 15, it has a 3-band EQ, headphone jack and aux in for MP3 players and whatnot.
It also has a push-button contour control and a push-button overdrive, which you don't see in the Rumble 15.
Basically, if overdrive and slightly better tone-shaping are important to you, consider the Rumble 25 v3 over the Rumble 15. Either one would make the perfect practice amp.
Fender Rumble 40 v3
If you need even more power in your practice amp, consider moving up to the Rumble 40. This is still a super-portable amp that won't kill your budget, but it has a few more features you may be interested in if you plan to play in a band. For one thing, it has an XLR line out jack, which offers the option of running your signal to the house system for live performance.
At 40 watts its got more power than the Rumble 15, but its still basically a practice amp. Depending on your playing situation it may be powerful enough, but in most situations, it won't be loud enough to be heard over a drummer and other instruments. This is why the line out is so key.
What the extra power really gets you is a bit better tone. Because you can crank it up more without stressing the amp or speakers, you have more headroom to work with, and your bass will sound clearer at higher volumes. It also has a 10-inch speaker, which will handle the sound spectrum of a bass guitar well.
The Rumble 40 has built-in distortion and better tone-shaping options, including an expanded 4-band EQ. Of course, if all you need is a little amp for practice none of this really matters and the Rumble 15 will do just fine. But if you need more firepower there are other amps in the Rumble lineup that can get the job done.
Verdict on the Fender Rumble Series Practice Amps
The Fender Rumble 15 is a great little bass amp that serves well for practice or as a first amp. One of the smartest things Fender does is include the Rumble 15 as part of their Squier by Fender bass starter packs. It won’t be long before a beginner outgrows the Squier Affinity Bass that comes with the package, but the Rumble 15 should stick with them for many years as a practice amp.
The Rumble 15 covers all the checks all the boxes for a great practice amp, but if you need a little more you can move up to the Rumble 25. You get overdrive and few more features while still staying within a reasonable budget for a first amp or practice rig.
Finally, if you are looking for a solid amp for bedroom or basement practice, and one that’s easy to tote to a friend’s house for jamming, go with the Rumble 40. This amp can even handle small gigs. It’s especially nice that the Rumble 40 even includes an XLR line out, just in case you ended up in a situation where you wanted to hook up to a soundboard or PA system.
There are few amps in their price ranges that are a better value than the Rumble Series. The Rumble 15, Rumble 25, and Rumble 40 are simple, easy to carry around, and of a high enough quality to satisfy even veteran bassists.
I hope this Fender Rumble 15 v3 review was helpful!
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Sweny on July 13, 2015:
I purchased a Rumble 15 V3 but was not happy with the cheap speaker they installed. Small magnet and very stiff. Sounded tinny. I replaced it with an 8", has a large magnet and a wonderful sound! I was blown away the first time I turned it on, big bold, powerful sound. I had to modify the internal cabinet a bit to accommodate the deeper speaker. Probably voided the warranty, but that's okay for a $79 amp. The difference in sound is really incredible, much deeper. The speaker handles 100watts and is 4 ohm. The output of the amp is slightly higher now than the advertised 15 watt.
Modification was not hard to do and was well worth it. I use the amp for practice. I've been playing for 45 years!