Price paid: $ 224
Purchased from: musiciansfriend.com
Sound — 9
I initially played bass guitar for about 2 years from the time I was 15 years old through the time I was 17 years old, and then haven't played bass guitar again till about 6 months ago. I am primarily playing through an Ibanez Soundgear SR370 with active pickups. The music I'm playing on bass is pretty eclectic as I've approached the bass guitar with just trying to be the most well-rounded player I can become. I've been playing funk (James Brown, Sly and The Family Stone, Bootsy), grunge (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins), classic rock (Led Zeppelin, Queen) and a wide range of metal (Metallica, Megadeth, Kyuss, The Sword). This amp can do just about anything and can really get a wide range of sound. The bass response is a lot better than you would expect from a 10" driver, and the tone shaping available on the amp makes just about any bass sound possible. I've recorded some stuff with the Bronco 40, mainly through a TonePort UX2, but also for the headphones line out, and the recorded tone is excellent both ways. I've had a friend come over and play through the Bronco 40 to check it out and he played an old Squier P Bass and an OLP Stingray copy through it both passive and it sounded pretty awesome. It actually halfway sold me on getting an OLP if I can find one I like on eBay. Really, with the passive pickups especially in the OLP I felt like the tone was much more in control most of the time, with the active pickups shining through the Bronco 40 when I needed an especially snappy tone or when I was trying to get a stoner rock "Kyuss" type sound out of the amp. If I wanted to be really picky I think I could make myself completely happy with a decent DI pedal with an onboard preamp. With the volume close to maxed out the clean tone still sounds clean for every amp model, though of course some of the models still sound better than others maxed out and clean.
Overall Impression — 9
I purchased the Fender Bronco 40 when I got back into playing bass guitar after years away from the bass. I wanted an amp for practice and for the possibility of small jams and gigs not being out of my ability. Without a PA system this amp is more than sufficient for practice and should be able to handle small quieter jam sessions. With a PA system I would only be limited by the PA system. I didn't buy the Bronco 40 as a long term amplifier, necessarily, but instead for something to practice on and to get an idea of which effects I would use most frequently with bass and exactly which of the available tones I gravitated towards the most so I would be making an educated decision when I look for a higher wattage amp down the road. As it is, I've come to realize that getting a larger amp isn't necessarily a requirement, as the Bronco 40 is supremely portable and the XLR out lets me get as much volume as needed via a PA system. I think the Bronco 40 would be a good match for most types of music, but especially useful for those with an eclectic range of styles. It can do any genre that I've tried with it very convincingly, and the only one I would worry about is the heaviest of black/death metal if you like your bass that distorted it maybe can't get quite that distorted, but with a pedal I'm sure you could get there. I can't really complain about it, but all the options can sometimes seem like a headache when I'm looking for a specific setting/sound and I'm in a hurry. The optional pedal you can purchase for this could make this a non-issue as you can save a few of your favorite presets to it and get back to them with the click of a button.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The Fender Bronco 40 has a metal speaker grille, metal corner caps, thick black vinyl covering, high quality handle and a closed back. It is very solid. The Bronco 40 is very tightly constructed and feels as if it could survive a pretty decent fall. It hasn't given me any trouble as far as functionality goes. My worry about it is that with the volume maxed out, I am not sure the speaker can handle some of the louder effects and settings I get the feeling the speaker might blow itself out. I don't mean by that that I can't get enough volume right now for my needs, but I feel like I have to be mindful of where the master and gain settings are, what effects or settings I am using, etc. It has actually stressed me out a little bit when I first un-boxed the Bronco 40 and played around with it a little. On the other hand, despite my worries I haven't had any actual problems with the speaker.
Features — 9
The Fender Bronco 40 is really a bass amp version of what Fender is doing with their Mustang guitar amps, and by this I mean this is a bass amp that models other popular amps, and has built in effects and all of this can be tweaked using the Fender Fuse software. With a little patience you can get almost any bass tone you are looking for and while I'm not saying it is going to sound as good as a higher end Fender, Ampeg, GK, Eden, etc., you can get it pretty close with a little effort. The amp models 8 specific amp models which you can probably figure out pretty easily by the names the models based off of other Fender amps are actually named correctly while the rest have other names to avoid any lawsuits: Rumble, 59' Bassman, Bassman TV, Bassman 300, KGB 800, Rockin' Peg, SWR Redhead and Monster. Each amp model has 3 saveable presets built into the amp, with an amber, green and red mode for each. The amp comes with some presets already set up to work from. There is also built in compression and some effects (which can be nominally controlled from the amp, but really tweaked and perfected via the Fuse software). The amp has controls for Gain, Master, Bass, Mid, Treble, Preset, Comp and FX. There are also buttons "save", "exit" and "tap". Holding down the "tap" button activates the built in chromatic tuner. The Bronco 40 is a 40 watt solid state amplifier, with a 10" driver. There is an XLR Out to run to a PA system, there is a plug for an optional foot-switch (to switch between a few of your favorite presets), an aux in, a headphone jack and a USB port to connect to your computer and use the Fuse software or record directly. There is a black metal speaker grille, high quality corner caps, a very nice handle mounted on top and a very nice black vinyl covering over the amp. The entire amp weighs less than 30 pounds. The effects included are Modern Bass Overdrive, Overdrive, Fuzz, Greenbox, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Vibratone, Envelope Control Filter, Octave, Step Filter, Delay and Reverb. The "tap" button can be used to adjust delay time or the modulation rate of a given effect. I would like to see this amplifier offered in different sizes this amp would have been ideal to me with 150 200 watts with a tweeter and a 12" driver. Overall, there are a lot of features built into this small amp, that is a Fender and surprisingly affordable.