Monday, July 11, 2016

Fender Bassbreaker Review

The Fender Bassbreaker series was announced last year at the same time as the Jimi Hendrix Signature Stratocaster. There have been a lot of talk about them but I had not had the chance to play through one till a couple of days ago. I was out of town on vacation with my family, while they were having some down time I hit up a couple of local guitar shops. They had a Bassbreaker 45 2x12 combo and a Bassbreaker 7w mini stack. The guys there were more than happy to let me check them out but they warned me that the 45, even with the variable wattage control all the way down was insanely loud. So I checked out the 7 watt instead.  I've been into my strat lately so that's what I grabbed off the wall.

The 7 watt might be the perfect bedroom plexi style amp. It has a "treble booster" built into which emphasizes the upper mids almost like a built in tube screamer. Compared to a Blues Jr it has more presence in the mids and an immediate attack from your guitar. Without the boost engaged and the mids rolled back it is similar to a hot twin that is not quite breaking up yet. Speaking of breaking up this amp breaks up really easy. With the booster on and the mids up I nailed the strat with my pick and got some nice vintage British grind. Switch to my fingers and it cleaned right up, roll back the volume and use the pick again it was clean and spanky. As a pedal platform this amp rules! You can run it clean or with a touch of crunch but it loves pedals and the more dynamic the better. I'm not a big reverb guy but I kind of wanted it on this amp, just a touch to take the edge off because the sound is fairly unforgiving similar to the way my old Mesa Stiletto was, which makes sense since they share a similar inspiration.

So how loud was it? At first sitting in front of the mini stack I almost felt bad for other people in the shop. In a bedroom it would sound very loud. But as soon as I stood up to change a couple of settings it was surprisingly quieter. I don't think anyone would be taking a nap in the house but if you needed to record something without the neighbors calling the cops this would work. It would work for coffee shop gigs and other gigs without a drummer. But for anything larger, the Bassbreaker 15w would probably be the way to go. The 15 w adds reverb, an effects loop and an adjustable gain switch, and the guys at the shop said they have been unable to keep those in stock. As long as your miked up it should work in most situations unless your drummer thinks he is Tommy Lee.

Aesthetically there have been some detractors because of the grey tweed. I don't mind that at all, it looks unique to other amps out there, but I wasn't crazy about the knobs which, in my own personal opinion look cheap. I do like the oversize feel of them which makes it easy to dial in settings. If I end up picking one up I might swap those for something like a chicken head knobs. Also, even though I thought it sounded surprisingly great, I wonder if a different cabinet or speakers might sound better. If your after a vintage voiced, British sounding amp do yourself a favor and check these amps out before Fender gets smart and ups the price.

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