What most people want from a user review is to know if the product actually meets the claims made in the advertising. In the case of the Rumble 200 combo, I imagine the big question is if it really cuts it on stage as a gigging amp. In order to address this question in detail, please bear with me while I give some context.
Before getting mine, my set-up for rehearsals and gigs was a Little Mark 250W head with a lightweight GK cab (15 inch, 4 Ohm driver + tweeter). With master volume around 4-5, I could compete with our un-mic?d but loud drummer, keyboards through a vintage Leslie, two guitars through 40W Fender valve combos and a vocal PA. We play Faces, Stones, Black Crowes style rock. This set-up sounds great with my 70s style Jazz bass and is certainly portable, but I decided to make gig logistics even easier by retiring it to the rehearsal studio (it was getting a bit road worn) and getting a compact combo exclusively for live use.
I went for the Fender option partly out of brand loyalty and partly for the classic styling which suits the band better than more modern brands. My main worry was that the amp wouldn?t have sufficient headroom as it delivers 140W through its internal 8 Ohm speaker, the full 200W when hooked up to an external 8 Ohm cab. Fortunately, I needn?t have worried as it does a similar job volume and presence wise, and is perfectly adequate unassisted for small-medium sized venues when using PA mainly for vocals. When sending everything through a PA, you?ve got a line-out (post-EQ).
In terms of sound, I found the full clean rock tone I need from tweaking the EQ and don?t need to use the (perfectly serviceable) preset voicings. The amp is responsive to the guitar volumes and tone control; rolling back the bridge pickup produces the desired warmth from the neck for a more soulful sound, and although I don?t use it often, the bridge pickup on its own projects that characteristic nasal finger style Jazz sound with no further adjustment. I don?t usually engage the tweeter as I get sufficient sparkle for the occasional octave ?pop? from a bit of treble boost, but I would say that it?s not as ?in your face? harsh as others I?ve heard. I?m sure those who need versatility can find plenty of tones through the presets, the 4 band EQ, and enabling the tweeter or not. No opinion of the overdrive which I don?t do with bass, but it?s there if you need it. As a passing comment, It?s not a valve driven Bassman but my Strat sounds surprisingly good through the amp with a little of the onboard overdrive.
In terms of design it?s very light, well-built and well laid-out, but has no frills such as preset status lights. Mine arrived perfectly finished and the knobs, carrying handle and metal corners seem good quality. My only gripes are minor; the tolex style covering and speaker grill cloth feel a bit on the thin side and a padded cover would be a good idea if it?s going to be moved around with any frequency. Also watch out for the pointy bits of the Fender emblem which could catch and snap-off when handling if you?re not careful.
Apart from minor niggles this combo does what it should, sounds like it should, has a classic Fender vibe and is a good standalone option if you?re not regularly competing with giant guitar stacks. Physically, it?s big enough to look purposeful on stage and small enough to stash unseen in the back of most medium sized cars. I mainly wanted a one-box plug-in and play solution, but it?s reassuring that there are speaker and line out sockets as well as effect send and returns, a headphone out and a mini-jack in, so it actually covers everything from home practice through to more serious playing and gigging needs. As a final comment, I initially considered the smaller and cheaper Rumble 100 as well but I think I made the right choice ? that can probably manage in a rehearsal studio situation but wouldn?t have the same presence on stage for rock.