Fender Bassbreaker 18/30 Review

The recently launched Bassbreaker series is a new line of amplifiers by Fender that are out of the sparkly clean tone zone usually associated with Fender amplifiers.

The range is comprised of several models from a neighbour friendly 7 watt model to an all-out 45 watt monster. The idea behind these is that Fender want to recapture the sound of the well-known amplifiers from the UK that were based on Fender designs in the 60s.

For this article we will be looking at the 18/30 model a 2 x 12 combo with two distinct foot switchable channels.

Specifications

The 18/30 has four EL84 Tubes and a solid state rectifier. A simple path ensure fuss free operation, less thing to go wrong then which is a good thing. In the speaker department two twelve inch Celestion units are provided which are mounted side by side. The cabinet is constructed from birch ply with a semi-close back to allow a full spectrum response whilst protecting the circuits and valves. A modern looking Black Tolex and squared off Fender Logo completes the look.

Moving on to the channel sections the 18/30 provides two distinct voices. Channel 1 is a based on the Blackface Deluxe amplifier but with 30 watts, this is a clean high headroom channel, for your usual Fender clean tones. Controls for Channel 1 are Volume, Bass, Middle and Treble. Channel 2 is based on an older 1961 Brown Deluxe amp. This has lower headroom and therefore breaks up sooner for a gritty compressed natural sounding overdrive. Controls for channel 2 are simply Volume and Tone.

A standby switch is provided to and do also note that the 18/30 has no on board reverb.

In Use

Visually the amplifier looks more modern that others in the Fender range such as the Blues Junior, Hot Rod Deluxe or Deluxe Reverb with its black tolex and modern block logo. Construction is very solid and even so the unit does not feel overly heavy for a 2 x 12 valve amplifier.

The controls are well laid out and easy to access, also very importantly the volume control seems to be very gradual, unlike some other Fender amplifiers where zero was off and one was rock concert loud.

Channel one is very clean and has a lot of headroom, I tried it with a Telecaster with Fat 50s pickups and setting the volume at three in a medium size room there was more than enough decibels for most gigs without any breakup.

Channel two is a different animal, this is designed with a lower 18 watt circuit and is meant to breakup and compressed. Again with my trusty Telecaster breakup started with the volume set at around 2 to 3, this gave me a slight warm crunch suitable for Blues or Classic Rock.

I also tried the amp with a Les Paul Classic which has high output ceramic pickups and this turns the 18/30 into one serious classic rock tone amp. Channel 1 has a clean rounded tone, whilst on Channel 2 breakup comes in early for a warm overdriven sound, use a pedal such as my Wampler Paisley Drive or the ever popular Ibanez Tube Screamer and this takes you into another plane of a sonic reality more relative to creamy smooth 4 x 12 stacks.

It must said that this is one loud amp. I would say it would be most at home on medium to large rooms, or outdoor gigs. You could use in a home studio as well for example but with the clean channel and pedals for overdrive. For home or studio use the 15 or even the 7 would be more suitable in my opinion.

Accessories & Extras

The amplifier brings a fitted Fender logo cover as standard and a one switch pedal for changing the channels. Should you want a bit more dispersion of your sound the BB-212 extension cabinet is available as a separate option.

As mentioned earlier the 18/30 has no on-board Reverb so you might want to invest in a pedal for this. From something simple like the TC Electronics Hall of Fame Mini through to the higher end pedals like the Wampler Faux Spring Reverb.

Summary

A great well-built amplifier than should last for many years to come.

By E.H.Slade