NAD - Fender Rumble V3 100

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by steve_rolfeca, Jul 31, 2014.

  1. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    I bought a G-K MB110 combo earlier this year.. I didn't need loud or low, because it would mainly be used in a church basement with a terminal case of "room boom".

    In the end, I decided that the restricted bass response was too much of a good thing with my 5-string slabs, and went looking for a replacement with a little more oomph down low.

    Thankfully, some new options have surfaced since last winter, and I ended up getting a good deal on a floor model Rumble 100.

    I almost passed it up the first time I checked it out, because it sounded pretty boomy out of the box. This time, the salesman let me test it with the ports blocked, and that sealed the deal (pun intended).

    I think that the Rumble makes an interesting contrast to the G-K, and thus this thread.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
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  2. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    The G-K was a little jewel, with CNC rolled edges in places where you wouldn't expect it, like the inside of the grill surround:

    MB110 internals1.jpg

    And the flared port openings:
    MB110 internals2.jpg

    The attention to detail was evident everywhere, like the fully-lined cab and the carefully dressed speaker wires:

    MB110 internals3.jpg

    Although the 10" driver couldn't reproduce a really solid low B in a 0.8 cubic foot box, it was a quality piece, with a hefty magnet structure:
    MB110 internals4.jpg
    chupacerveza, DJ Bebop and rodl2005 like this.
  3. I placed a deposit for a Fender Rumble 40 v3 to be shipped from another branch to the branch I ordered from (Tom Lee). I played it about three weeks ago when they still had one in stock and it blew me away. 40W is more than enough to shake whatever room you're in.

    Best part is the new overdrive circuit they installed and the vintage/contour/bright options. Mine cost me $200 + tax new. Not bad considering the variety of sounds it can give me. I can't wait!!
    chupacerveza likes this.
  4. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Meanwhile, the Fender reflects its lower price point throughout. The Chinese-made Eminence 12 is a comparatively lightweight piece:
    Rumble V3 100 internals1.jpg

    The woodwork is crude compared to the G-K, screws are as small as they could possibly be, and details like the passthrough for the speaker wires are less than graceful:
    Rumble V3 100 internals2.jpg

    Ditto for the paintwork, the rough, unsanded port openings, and the cheap velcro grille attachment (as compared to the industrial-strength stuff used on the G-K):
    Rumble V3 100 internals3.jpg

    Still, the Fender comes through with pragmatic touches where they really matter. Nobody can see the inside of the grill surround, and despite the rough finish inside, the cab was carefully sealed, and there were no rattles.

    Meanwhile, the choice of a 12" driver and a 1.8 cubic foot box gives it much more punch and depth, and it's tuned for a surprisingly open top end. Various people in the store agreed that despite the rather tubby low end, it had more growl, air and detail than either my G-K or the Rumble 40 that I was sampling. So much for tens being faster than twelves...

    I also appreciated the fact that the hardware was mounted with T-nuts, instead of the wood screws used in the G-K.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
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  5. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    On the one hand, it's a shame that the Fender is so crude compared to the G-K.

    Still, when you consider the amount of output, the price (in Canada, it's about $70 less than the G-K), and the fact that the Fender is still so light despite being nearly twice the size, it's a pretty impressive piece. I haven't weighed it, but it feels as though it might be a few ounces lighter than the G-K.

    Leo Fender was always looking for ways to streamline manufacturing, improve his amps and control costs. I think he would be proud of the new Rumble line.

    Getting back to the sound, the 4-band EQ is a little touchy, and the upper mid and treble controls are voiced a little high.

    Still, it showed a lot of promise in the store. When you open it up a bit, the speaker adds a pleasing amount of bite, without looking or sounding like it's going to jump out of the cab. There's a nice amount of Bassman TV thickness to the tone. When my P-bass comes back from my buddy, I expect it to pair up with the Rumble quite nicely.

    During my second demo session, we used packing materials to block the ports, and I really liked the way it tightened up the low end, making the amp sound more controlled and punchy.

    The cab rings about as much as you would expect from an unbraced box that's this light. While I had it opened up for inspection and photos, it occurred to me to try lining it with polyfill:
    Rumble V3 100 internals4.jpg

    This seemed to help tame the low end, and take a little coloration out of the upper mids as well.

    In the end, I found that I still liked it better with the ports plugged. With the cab is sealed, the more gradual rolloff makes the B string sound fuller, and staccato passages don't suffer from the overhang that I heard originally. The extra damping also helps the speaker stay controlled at higher levels. You could bounce a quarter off the low mids now- it's punch city.

    The change in tuning also rounds out the D and G strings. The tone is vintage thick across all 5 strings now, whereas I was having trouble balancing out the brightness at the top end when the amp was stock.

    When I take it apart again to attach some more permanent port covers, I think I'm going to try bracing the sides, top and floor with a couple of pieces of heavy dowel. By applying just a little tension to those panels, I hope to stiffen the box without adding a lot of weight. It may be a waste of time, but OTOH it might take some unwanted colour out of the higher frequencies.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
  6. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Other details:

    The Gain control seems to be a simple boost. The amp still works when it's turned off all the way, and the sound thickens just a little as you turn it up. There's a lot of gain behind that knob, yet it doesn't get noisy at extreme settings, so you have lots of freedom to experiment with the gain structure.

    The overdrive channel interacts with the Gain control, giving you lots of options as to when the drive kicks in. The OD adds a fair amount of brightness and bite at all settings. It's a sandpapery-sounding distortion, and pretty dynamic- you can have just a little breakup when you dig in, or go for more saturation.

    My only real disappointment, is with the "XLR line out" on the back. It's exactly what it sounds like: post-gain, post-EQ, and even post-master volume. You can't send a strong signal out to FOH or your recording gear, without having the internal speaker blaring. You also can't adjust your stage level without ticking off the sound guy.

    When I tried running the balanced signal into my recording interface, I thought the treble sounded a bit edgy and solid-state. I can do much better by going direct and using an amp plug-in.

    This is hardly a surprise given the price point, but it would have been pretty awesome if this thing had a great DI on top of everything else. Besides, when a $300 starter amp starts sounding more like $500 after just a little TLC, it's easy to get greedy.

    If these amps are the result of Jeff and Andy's input after the Genz Benz acquisition, it makes me wonder what they might have accomplished at Fender if they'd been given a little more freedom...
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
  7. Nice review. Thanks!
    DJ Bebop likes this.
  8. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member


    I don't think I've ever had a mod program work out so well with so little expense or effort.

    I cut a couple of pieces of 7/8" dowel a little tighter than an interference fit, and set the braces off-center. The drumming sound I got when I originally tap-tested the cab is now a high, hard knock, with a different pitch on each panel. Nasty resonance gone.

    Rumble cab mods1.jpg

    Next, I hot-glued the braces to secure them and clamped a couple of plywood covers over the ports. Total cost was under $20.

    My expectations were limited, just to tighten up the tone of a cheap practice amp. The results have far exceeded them.

    During my original trial, the amp sounded pretty good with my Dingwall, but the low-mid looseness didn't sit well with my P-bass. Now it sounds good with just about everything, even my MIM Jazz, which has a ridiculously huge low end courtesy of the Duncan QP's and Audere preamp.

    The overall tone is still old-school, but in a great way. It's a refreshing contrast to the modern vibe of my G-K/AudioKinesis rig.
  9. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Took the Rumble 100 to music camp last week, with no backup.

    I was amused that friends assumed it was yet another expensive boutique piece. I didn't see any reason to destroy their fantasies...

    I sent FOH a DI feed, but they preferred to let my amp carry the hall. Attendance was down and there was no drummer, so I never really pushed the amp hard. Still, it had ample headroom for several enthusiastic sing-alongs.

    During the week, I got to play in some fairly unusual settings, yet I always found a tone that fit in:
    - holding down the low end for a recorder quintet (two sopranos, alto, tenor and bass)
    - a mother and daughter piano duet
    - camp band (upright piano, vocals, trumpet, mandolin, bass, and occasional walk-ins including acoustic guitar and harmonica)

    The amp performed flawlessly. I still had to dial out a little boom and push the top end a bit to get the sort of woody, semi-acoustic tone I was looking for with my Dingwall 5-string. The EQ was very sensitive, as noted before. Slight half-increment adjustments were generally all I needed to push the tone one way or another.

    These were my baseline settings for most of the week, with no buttons pushed:
    Rumble 100 V3 tone settings modded cab1.jpg

    In the end, I was very happy with my tone throughout the week, and got a bunch of complements on the new amp. Pretty impressive, considering that I was using a $900 boutique cab and an 800-watt head last time...
  10. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    Yet another great, honest review & stage report from a working bass player. Thanks Steve.

    :cool: Fender Rumbles Don't Cost A Million Bucks. They Just Sound Like They Do! :cool:
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  11. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Unless someone comes up with a schematic, and I can find an easy way to add a pre/post switch for the XLR out, my Rumble mods are finished.

    Got a kickstand from Leland at Speaker Hardware, and now I have a tiltback!

    Rumble 100 kickstand.jpg
    Rumble 100 Kickstand 2.jpg

    Interestingly, it makes quite a difference to the low end.

    I was surprised, because my ported AudioKinesis 112 cab sounds virtually identical whether it's flat on the floor, tilted back a few degrees, or raised a foot and a half. Just a slight improvement in the treble when it's tilted back and I'm standing nearly on top of it.

    In contrast, I have to bring the bass and low mids back up to noon to bring back the low end that's lost when I tilt the Rumble, and the mids and highs open up quite a bit as well.

    Won't know until I gig it, but I suspect that this will be useful in The Room From Hell on Sunday night. Will give a gig report ASAP.
  12. shoot-r


    May 26, 2007
    Great write-up Steve.

    I just recently got to try out, in the store, the new Fender Rumbles.

    The 100/112, a 200/115, and a 500/210.

    Thought they all sounded VERY good, with my favorite being the 500/210.

    To my ears, Fender now has a real winner in the Rumble series.......
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  13. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Circumstances have kept me away from The Room From Hell the last few weeks.

    However, I did get to use the Rumble 100 V3 as a tiltback stage monitor last night. Packed 500-seat hall, a 7-piece band with two electric guitarists and a very loud drummer.

    Not the right venue for this little guy, but it was all unplanned. I was supposed to be direct to FOH with good monitor support, but you know how that goes...

    I was on the hi-hat side of the drummer on a postage stamp-sized stage. My amp was wedged in beside the kick drum. I was inches away, and so close to the back of the stage that the hi-hat partially obscured my view of the Fender logo.

    Obviously, the Rumble got buried by the drums, but the tiltback really helped it to cut through, and I could hear just enough of myself to get by.

    Under the circumstances, I would have expected the Rumble to lose its composure, but it sounded clean, clear and full. With the mods, this little guy is very flexible, and punches way above it's weight class.
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  14. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    Back to The Room From Hell this afternoon, for a six-song set.

    Concrete block hall in a church basement, low ceiling, bad proportions, all hard surfaces. Bad "room boom" and early reflections make my electric basses sound loose and indistinct.

    The Rumble sounded great today. Full, even, yet tight and controlled. First time in three years...

    I don't think there's any special Fender voodoo involved. I suspect that a room like this simply favours the smooth low end rolloff of a sealed box. If I pulled the port plugs, the 100 would probably boom at least as badly as my other ported cabs...
    DJ Bebop, Ramana and svtb15 like this.
  15. Have you had a chance to look over the electronics? So far, it seems like the corners Fender chose to cut have been intelligent, with no impact on durability or reliability. Can the same be said for the electronics?

    I ,for one, would have been glad to spend the extra bucks needed to make a combo with the features that you added, right out of the box, provided that the electronics are built to last.
    alaskaleftybass likes this.
  16. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    The components are consumer-grade. At this price point, you don't get a heavy-gauge chassis, expensive chassis-mount pots pots on separate wiring harnesses, or mil-spec switches. The top-mounted controls are exposed, so a tumble off an amp stand could easily result in a broken pot or two.

    I would have preferred Speakon connectors for the output, but I did notice that the plastic-bodied input jacks have metal sleeves. The flimsy plastic ones on the old BXR's used to break if you stepped on a cable, so that's a definite upgrade.

    Generally, everything seems to be up to typical Fender SS standards. These things are selling like hotcakes, yet I haven't heard any reports of teething pains like the ones that plagued Ampeg and G-K with the early PF's and MB's.

    I still see lots of older BXR's and Rumbles in daily use. It's too early to be sure, but as long as people treat them with respect, I would expect the V3's to be just as reliable.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2014
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  17. Britbonic

    Britbonic Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2002
    San Francisco, CA

    So just curious how you're feeling about this amp now that you've used it with the mods for a while. Just picked one up on a pretty good deal and it's OK but really boomy for my tastes and I'm not able to dial it out. Thinking about doing the mods you listed here if it will in fact tame the boxy low end and tighten it up.
    DJ Bebop likes this.
  18. Awesome Sauce

    Awesome Sauce Already tired tomorrow

    Dec 21, 2011
    NW Chicago 'burbs
    It will. I lined and braced mine following Steve's advice (but left my ports open), and it is MUCH tighter now- like a totally different amp, but in a good way. I mean, it still has that great sound that attracted me too it, but no more boom.
    Ramana likes this.
  19. Britbonic

    Britbonic Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2002
    San Francisco, CA
    That's good to know. Was planning to block the ports but wasn't sure about best way to do that. Did you use polyfil for the lining? Is it just stuffed into box or is it actually attached?
  20. Awesome Sauce

    Awesome Sauce Already tired tomorrow

    Dec 21, 2011
    NW Chicago 'burbs
    I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a roll of poly-fill meant to be the inside of a quilt. I bought the 1" bat, which is like 3/8" thick in the bag. Throw in in the drier on low heat for 10 minutes, voila, full thickness. Then cut to size and stuff. Friction will hold it in place.
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