World Music Supply | Bugera Infinium

Hey guys it’s Brian from World Music Supply here again, supplying you with your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews. Now I believe I’ve mentioned that as much as I can, I am going to try and keep this week as Halloween themed as possible, and that means supplying you with the most dark and brutal equipment I can find, and today that includes a few amplifiers from our friends over at Bugera. These amplifers all feature their Infinium technology, which regulates and closely monitors the tubes, and even rebiasing them as necessary, allowing them to last at full potential much longer than normal. This means that over the life of the amp, you will spend substantially less on replacing tubes, as you will no longer have to spend huge sums of money on whole matched sets of tubes.

The Bugera 333XL 120 Watt 3 Channel All Tube Guitar Amplifier Head

The Bugera 333XL 120 Watt 3 Channel All Tube Guitar Amplifier Head

The First amp in today’s review is the Bugera 333XL which is a massivly high gain, high wattage amplifier designed to let you play loud and proud. The 333XL is a hand built 120 watt monster, driven by four EL34 tubes, which can be switched out for 6L6s for a totally different tone, and the preamp is powered by four 12AX7s. Bugera integrated a high class digital reverb, which is a little cleaner, and clearer than a more typical spring reverb, which tend to get rather muddy when it comes to high gain tones.

Clean, this reverb added a ton of depth and body to my guitar tone, the feeling of having a small hall style reverb, as opposed to a spring does a lot to boost the quality of your sound, giving you studio style sounds in a live setting. The amp was sweet and clear, and all of my notes sang out with a clean, singing voice, never muddying up, no matter how much I messed with the EQ. Switching over to the Crunch channel, I was greeted with classic, AC/DC style bark. The classic rock vibe was nice, and comping 70s rock rhythms with it was no problem. Flicking on the XL switch, which is a low mid boost, the sound suddenly was chunckier, and could almost pull off some early Metallica style tones as well.

Finally switching over to the Lead channel, I was greeted with gigantic, over the top roaring distortion, with overtones and harmonics galore. I was clearly in modern metal territory, and the addition of a built in noise gate really was a great idea, as it really does clean up the over the top roaring hiss that you tend to get from a setting like this. The distortion is more than enough to do anything from modern rock, to full on shred metal, so there is plenty or room to move around with a sound like this. The XL switch on the Lead setting would be an ideal tone for anyone who spends most of their time in a dropped tuning, as it really keeps your sound tight, and heavy. Overall the Bugera 333XL is a beast of a machine, and easily deserves its 10 out of 10 rating.

The Bugera TriRec INFINIUM Guitar Amp Head

The Bugera TriRec INFINIUM Guitar Amp Head

Next up is something I really wish I could be more discriptive about, but sadly due to some production restraints, they haven’t exactly came in just yet, and that would be the Bugera TriRec. I was able to briefly scope out, and listen to the TriRec at NAMM and was blown away by its sound, and power. A few features stuck out to me, and because I know so many of you have already preordered it, and are waiting patiently to get your very own, I figured I would give you my opinions on it, to help satiate your want for this high gain beast.

The name TriRec comes from its three fully independent channels, as well as its switchable silicon diode rectifier, and tube rectifiers, which allows it to have everything from roaring modern rock tones, hyper overdriven metal tones, to soaring almost synth like lead tones. It also features what Bugera has termed the varipower switch, which is a type of attenuator, that you can dial down, rather than use fixed power points, which was a really cool feature as it acted as a sort of mega-volume knob.  

The few moments I was able to actually to hear it clean, as a majority of the time getting to hear the amp was spent with them amp on a much higher gain setting, the clean sounded rich and pure, with a slight bit of that tangy solid state character you sometimes get from hybrid style amps. The overdrive setting, was big and beefy, with a sort of woofing quality to it, almost reminiscent of the XL boost on the 333XL. The lead sounds though; those were heavy as possible, just raw, metal heaviness. Chugging drop tune chords, and searing, vocal like lead tones, this amp really is going to be killer. Sadly it still might be a little while before the TriRec actually hits our warehouse shelves and I get to do a proper test for all of you. However, I will go ahead and say that the tone of this monster easily deserves a 10 out of 10, Now to sit and wait for a chance to actually play it for myself.

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World Music Supply | VOX AC30 Review

Hey guys, Brian from World Music Supply here again to bring you your usual dose of gear and guitar reviews, and today I got the chance to review a very special amplifier, the VOX AC30. Now once in a while, I will take a break from my regular duties of reviewing two or three guitars, amps, or pedals, and sit down with something I think is very influential, and just work out and explain why it is so important. I’ve done a review like this for the Line 6 Variax, the Fender Deluxe Reverb, and the Nuno Bettnecourt N4, but today I get to review something that virtually shaped an entire generation worth of music.

The Vox AC30 Hand-Wired 2x12 Combo amp

The Vox AC30 Hand-Wired 2×12 Combo amp

The Amplifier has a very particular sound, with a distinctive top end jangle, and a simplistic, and straight forward design. The sound of the amplifier is heavily influenced by its lack of negative feedback, which is an amplification technique used by most major manufacturers to help with gain stability, frequency response and reduced distortion. This lack of negative feedback causes the upper harmonics of the notes to jump out, creating an otherworldly distorted tone that has characterized the sounds of dozens of guitarists throughout history. The sound is also modified by its inclusion of a rectifier, which is often a buzz word for “metal” amplifiers, but what a rectifier does in effect is take all of the “valleys” of the sound wave and pulls them up into “peaks” resulting in a brighter, cleaner, more sine wave like sound.

The Vox AC30VR 30 Watt 2 Channel Guitar Amp

The Vox AC30VR 30 Watt 2 Channel Guitar Amp

Enough tech mumbo jumbo though, what this all translates to is a sound that was, and still is miles apart from its competitors, as the AC30 and the whole family of VOX amps for that matter, sound nothing like their Fender and Marshall contemporaries. Playing a Fender Strat on the cleanest of clean settings, this amp had two things going for it, one was it was amazingly loud for only being 30 watts, this is thanks to the two unique characteristics mentioned earlier, the AC30’s lack of negative feedback, and its rectifier help keep the volume high and pristine even on cleaner settings. The clean tones were very cool too, with lots of clarity and note definition, with lots of high end jangle and twang, and mid range bite and growl. Now while every variant of the AC30 that has come out over the years have different specs, and additions to them, most of them still have about the same sound, so these sentiments should ring true for every model in the line.

The Vox AC30 Hand-Wired Amp Head

The Vox AC30 Hand-Wired Amp Head

I remember about the time I was turning 17 or 18, I saw a documentary on the VOX company, and in particular the AC30. I remember hearing all of the different sound bites of the different bands and being marveled at how broad a scope they were, from classic rock, to country, to blues, to alternative rock. They all had this one amp, and none of them sounded the same. I remember hearing a worker at the factory talk about how the Rolling Stones didn’t know if the AC30 would be road worthy enough to tour with, and someone at the factory actually took one of the amps, and threw it down two or three flights of stairs. They then plugged it in, and it played just fine. I was amazed that a company would put that much trust in their product. So now that I had some spare time on my hands to take an in depth look at one specific product, I wanted to make it count, I wanted to hear what made this amp so timeless and sought after.

The Vox AC30C2 Custom Back Panel

The Vox AC30C2 Custom Back Panel

Turning the volume up, and letting the amp creep into natural overdrive, it becomes very clear why the likes of Brian May of Queen, The Edge of U2, and Thom Yorke of Radiohead all love this amp so very much. The sound is big and powerful, but with a different sort of tonality and harmonic response than what many guitarists would be used to, as the dynamics of this amp are very touch sensitive, and as well the controls to the amp itself are very precise, as their ranges are very wide. Turning the bass knob from side to side, doesn’t just suck away some bass or add on a little bit, it can delete the bass entirely, or emit enough low end to shake the foundation of most houses. This is unusual for a guitar amp, and you will find that many guitarists will actually tape down, or glue the knobs in place on their AC30, or if your Brian May, you might even just eliminate all of the knobs except the volume, and have the controls set one way forever. It should be noted that Brian May no longer does this to his amps, but the point still holds, that this amp has a very broad scope of sound.

Playing lead lines with the amp cranked you begin to notice something peculiar, as the note sustains, and the fundamental frequency falls away, a tone that is either a perfect fifth, or an octave above the tone begins to pull itself to the surface. This almost octave like effect is almost certainly thanks to the unique wiring of this amp, but all I know is that it is awesome! It took me some fiddling around with the controls to really dial in specific sounds of specific artists that I liked, but once you get the sound set, you really do notice the unique and unusual properties of this amplifier. You can dial in Revolver era Beatles grind, Jangly echo laden U2 tones, and when I used a EQ pedal to act like a treble booster, I was even able to dial in a very convincing Brian May style sound.

The Vox AC30C2 Custom

The Vox AC30C2 Custom

The VOX AC30 has a sound that is unique, and timeless. This is the amp that drove The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, U2, and millions more, to international stardom. This one amp has been the voice of many a guitarist, a symbol of technical ingenuity, and a timeless reminder of classic rock history. For all of these reasons, and surely many more, the VOX AC30 lands itself a solid 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Randall Signature Combo Amplifiers

Hey guys it’s Brian from World Music Supply here again, and today I get to bring you three cool little combo amps from our friends over at Randall. The combos in question are all signature models, which are all patterned after their larger, higher wattage brethren. The three I got to test today are the Kirk Hammett Signature KH15, the George Lynch signature LB15, and the Nuno Bettencourt NB15.

Now lets be honest, these amps are only 15 watts, running through a 6.5 inch Randall Jaguar speaker, these amps are not designed to compete with a band, and they certainly aren’t designed for stage use. These are practice amps, but what I’ve found out over the past few years, is “practice amps” tend to make great recording amps. The point of a practice amp is to get a good sound, but at a very low volume, and while this is great for jamming out in your bedroom, it’s also a great feature to have in the studio. Using a simple set up of a single SM57 and a cheap little USB Mixer, I was able to get what sounded like a giant 4×12 version of these little amps, all with the signature tone of their namesake intact.   

The Randall KH15 Kirk Hammet Signature Series 12 Watt Guitar Amplifer

The Randall KH15 Kirk Hammet Signature Series 12 Watt Guitar Amplifer

First up was the KH15, which to my understanding was based around the swappable preamp modules that were featured in his signature amp head. The KH15, and for that matter all of the amplifiers in today’s review, features a three band EQ, a clean channel, an overdrive channel, a boosted overdrive channel, and lastly a master volume. I was a really big Metallica fan when I first started playing guitar, and as such I have my fair share of Metallica licks memorized, and while the tone of this little amp wasn’t 100% accurate, it was as close as an amp can get that won’t set you back a few hundred, if not a few thousand dollars.

The clean tone was majestic, which I honestly found strange as when you hear Kirk Hammett, the first thing that comes to mind certainly isn’t sparkling Fender like clean tones. All things considered this amp sounded great just as a practice amp, but it also sounded pretty awesome when I had it all mic’d up running into my simple recording rig. This amp starts to have far more of that classic Black album style Metallica vibe once you flip it into the overdrive channel.

The overdriven tone had none of that annoying fizz that you can sometimes get from smaller speaker equipped practice amps, instead you were awarded with lots of tight sounding, barking, Metallica esc grind. Running through a barrage of Metallica riffs, this amp sounded almost perfect, especially through the recording rig, where the tiny 6.5 inch speaker suddenly sounded like a full 4×12 set of roaring speakers. Switching over to the boost channel, and of course cutting back the mids a great deal resulted in an almost exact replication of those classic mid scooped tones from those beloved early Metallica albums. For its ability to react and sound far bigger, and far bolder then you would expect it to, the KH15 earns itself a 10 out of 10.

The Randall LB15 15 Watt George Lynch Combo Guitar Amplifier

The Randall LB15 15 Watt George Lynch Combo Guitar Amplifier

Next up is the LB15, which is based on the Lynch Boxs circuitry, and the result is just amazing. The clean sound was just gigantic, with lots of head room, and sparkling high end, with just then enough mid cut to help you get through the mix. Recording with this amp was great, because tiny little mic tweaks really transform the sound, with all of the tones sounding smooth, and musical.

This held true more so when I switched it to the overdrive setting, as I was able to get what sounded like totally different amplifiers by slight tweaks of the microphone, which I think had to do with the large harmonic content being driven through such a small speaker. This actually was a good things, and pulling the mic back a foot or so, or using two microphones gave me dozens of very useable, very heavy tones.

No matter what you feed this little amp you always get a very Lynch style tone, with those tight lows, thick midrange, and piercing highs which create Dokken esc bite and power. Fans of George Lynch will no doubt love this little amp, but so will fans of recording with littler amps, or people who have to record in a home or apartment as even though it sounds massive, its all at a level that won’t get the cops called on you. For all of this power in such a small box, the LB15 easily scores itself a 10 out of 10.  

The Randall NB15 Nuno Bettencourt Signature Practice Combo

The Randall NB15 Nuno Bettencourt Signature Practice Combo

Last up in today’s rundown, is the NB15 which modeled after Mr. Bettencourts unusually designed, and fantastically voiced line of Randall amplifiers. While its two tone grill cloth might make it seem otherwise at first, this little guy features the same 6.5 inch Randall Jaguar speaker as the other amplifiers in this review. Its voice is a different in many ways from the other amplifiers in today’s review, as its clean channel is far less pristine then the other amps thus far, by this I mean that this amp features a much warmer sound, as opposed to the sparkling clean tones that the LB15 and the KH15 featured, the NB15 had a much warmer, and low end focused sound.

This was great in all honesty, as I was able to comp thicker sounding jazz lines, and warmer sounding country licks, not to mention swirly chorus tones without taking everyone’s head off with a ton of high end, which can sometimes happen with smaller speakers.  Overdriven this little guy had a very 80s sound, with tons of focused, soaring lead tones on tap, and when used in conjunction with Nuno’s signature guitar, this set up sounded almost identical to anything he did with extreme, or solo, which was truly surprising.

On the boost setting the NB15 was just piercing, able to comp a giant roaring lead tone, in a package that fits in a back pack, and isn’t loud enough to wake up the whole neighborhood, so just like its brothers in this little series of signature amps, the NB15 also earns itself a very well deserved 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Fender Mustang Amplifiers

Hi it’s Brian from World Music Supply again, and I’m back to talk to you about Fender’s line of Mustang Amplifiers. Fender has long been a major power in the amplifier world, with powerhouse amps like the Bassman and the Twin reverb, not to mention their lesser known wonders like the Vibrolux, the bandmaster or the Princeton. Now though, with the new wave of modern modeling technology, Fender has begun to move into the world of modeling amplifiers with amplifiers like the G-Dec practice amp and the more powerful Mustang series of amplifiers. Armed to the teeth with powerful Fender DSP, all featuring your favorite vintage and modern Amplifiers and effects, and it comes loaded with extremely useful presets as well as USB connectivity to not only download more presets, but also to record direct into a computer with.

The Mustangs Simple Interface

The Mustangs Simple Interface

Rather then review the Amplifiers separately, I have decided to review them as a family, as the technology and the tones of the I, the II, the III, the IV, the V and the floor unit are completely identical. The only real difference between the units is the lack of the LCD screen interface and the 65 Deluxe model on the Mustang I and the Mustang II. The first thing you notice after turning on the amplifier is that a lot of the tones are Fender oriented and that is to be expected as this is first and foremost a Fender amplifier, sure they have different models vaguely disguised behind names like “British 60s” and “American 90s” but by and large you get fantastically accurate models of Fender models like the Fender Bassman, and the equally famous Twin Reverb.

The Mustang III

The Mustang III

Reviewing an amp like this is semi-difficult, as you are in effect reviewing literally a dozen amplifiers, and almost forty fully editable effects, but I will do my best to phrase and explain this varied pallet of tones and features. Using the included Fender Fuse software I was able to assemble large complex rigs very quickly, full of rack effects and plenty of pedals all to help shape your tone. there are twelve amplifier models, which include a 57 Deluxe, a 59 Bassman, a 57 Champ, a 65 Deluxe Reverb, a 65 Princeton Reverb, a 65 Twin Reverb, a Fender Super Sonic, The British 60s, 70s, and 80s which are rather well detailed models of a Vox and 70s and 80s era Marshalls, as well as the American 90s and Metal 2000 which are modeled on more high gain modern amplifiers.

The Mustang Floor

The Mustang Floor

All of the Fender Amplifiers are dead on accurate models of their name sakes, and as someone who loves the snappy clean tones of old pre-CBS Fender amplifiers I feel I can make that statement with confidence. The models seem to sound slightly more realistic on the higher Watt variants of the Mustang, but the I and II still sound amazing, they just lack some of the high volume characteristics of their big brothers. Out of the Fender models the most impressive was the 59 Bassman on the Mustang IV which sounded so much like my real Bassman that it was almost kind of frustrating that I saved so much money to buy a real Bassman. All of the Fender amps had their signature charms and characteristics, the twin reverb was sparkly and smooth, the Princeton was shimmering and had a nice bark at higher volumes, the champ had all of the classic Layla vibe that made it so famous, and the Bassman and Deluxe have all of the big body, big tone that made them so famous.

The Mustang IV

The Mustang IV

The spring reverbs also felt very Fender-y on their respective amps, feeling like a real amplifier reverb and less like a reverb you would get from a pedal. The other cool feature is the Fender Fuse software allows you to edit the Amplifiers much more than most other editing softwares, allowing you to hook up different amps to different speaker cabinets, change the bias, even down to adjusting the power amp sag. So you could have a Champ running through a tight sounding big 4×12. But if you’re looking for tight 4×12 tone, the British and American models sound equally impressive, with tones that really “speak” for the tone their aiming for. The British 70s has that big AC/DC tone, the British 60s has as very Beatles and Queen vibe to it, and the British 80s has a nice classic NWOBHM style vibe to it. The American Models remind me of the Randall I reviewed a week or so back, with the big, dark saturation that you expect from late 90s metal.

The Mustang V

The Mustang V

The pedal models that come with the Mustang are equally impressive, with everything from classic Tube Screamer style overdrives, to big fat Ring Modulator noises. They sound close enough to the real thing that with the optional four button footswitch, you could probably do a whole set with just this amp, and a laptop. The flexibility that having a laptop as your control module for an entire rig is just amazing, its like you own rack after rack of gear, and you have your own personal guitar tech who switches armfuls of gear for you.

When it comes down to it, the Mustang series of amplifiers is just fantastic. They have all of the classic fender tones, in one easily affordable package, and a whole slew of “British” and modern metal tones to fulfill those of us who might not like the classic Fender twang as much. For its ability to do everything in one little package, and making it feel like you have racks and racks of gear backstage the Fender Mustang series of Amplifiers scores a well deserved 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Pawnshop Amplifiers

Hi everyone, it’s Brian here with World Music Supply, and today I want to talk to you guys about some cool new amps that are part of Fenders Pawnshop line of equipment. The Pawnshop line up until now has been filled with quirky Fender guitars built to feel old, but made with a modern sensibility, and these amplifiers are no exception. Thus far, the Pawnshop line of amps has only two models, the Excelsior and the Greta. Let’s start first with the Greta.

The Fender Greta

The Fender Greta

The Greta is designed to function and feel like an old tube desk radio, which is what many guitarists of yesteryear had to deal with before they could buy a “real” amplifier, and as such, the tones generated from this small 2 Watt amplifier is similar to what you tend to hear on many old Classic rock hits from that same era. The Greta does look really cool though, with its speedometer style volume meter, its gold fabric covered speaker, and its bright red vintage table top radio style cabinet.

Sitting down with the Greta and putting it through its paces it’s quickly apparent that the controls to this amp are as simple as simple can get. You have a volume, a tone knob, and a speaker, past that you can plug the amplifier into the front end of another amplifier to use as a pre-amp, or run it into a cabinet to use the Greta as a head. While this makes the guitar a little more versatile, at the end of the day you get a few really amazing tones, and a cool little red amp. I tested the Greta through all of its respective speaker outputs, by itself, through a Randall RT412CX, and as a Preamp for a Fender Frontman.

By itself the Greta is a cool little table radio, and its speaking voice reflects this. Through its 4” speaker, at lower volumes, you get a clean-ish tone which has that classic sparkle that fender is known for, and as you ramp up the volume you get a very C.C.R style “swampy” overdrive. You really need some low output pickups to get a “true” clean tone from the Greta, but as long as the volume is low, you still get a nice, warm clean sound, with the slightest hint of growl behind it. However through its internal speaker, my favorite part was running my MP3 player through the Greta, as the tubes warmed everything up, and really made the music so much more, well…musical.

using the Greta as an amp head into a Randall RT412CX I was impressed by two things, that an amp like this can actually run a 4 x 12 cabinet, and second by the tonal difference between its internal speaker, and when running as a head. By itself, the Greta has a very “swampy” character, with a growl that I really can only link to the tones made famous by the likes of John Fogerty, but when you run it through a cabinet, it suddenly has a very AC/DC style sound, with far more punch and range than it does by itself. This is all to be expected, but the grand difference in good, usable tones was not, and I was frankly impressed. At low settings you get a nice big clean sound, with the slightest impression of the overdriven character of the amp in the background, and as you crank the amp the 5 o’ clock or so, you start to get some real Angus Young style bark. Taking it all the way to ten results in some big, heavily saturated distortion at a semi-low volume, which for those of us who record in our homes, rather than million dollar studios, good tones at low volumes is a definite plus.

The Greta can also be used as a Pre-amp, and for my test, I ran the Greta as a pre-amp into a Fender Frontman 2 x 12, which is a brighter sounding amplifier to begin with, I picked this amp as I have always loved its Fender tone, but I’ve never been a fan of the solid state tone. The Greta did a few things for the Frontman, first of which was warm everything up, this was nice as I could set the Greta on its lowest possible setting, just to add some tube warmth and let the Frontman handle all of the volume duty. This setup proved to be very useable, and did a good job of “faking” a big tube amp, which is something that I’ve always liked, having the tone and analog warmth of Tubes, and the reliability and road worthiness of a solid state amp. This combo really was a match made in heaven.

The Greta is a great addition to the Fender line of amplifiers, and a fantastic addition to the pawnshop line of equipment. For its ability to perfectly emulate the tones of yesteryear, the Greta gets a 9 out of 10, as even though its tones and looks are perfect, it certainly isn’t a high gain, heavy metal amplifier, and it therefore won’t suit the tastes of every guitarists, even though it will perfectly suit most of them.

The Fender Excelsior

The Fender Excelsior

Next up in this review is the Excelsior amplifier, a cool little 13 Watt Combo with a 15” special design speaker, and like the Greta it’s designed to be filled with all the same weird, quirky energy that has made Fenders Pawnshop line of equipment so exciting. Just like the Greta it bears no Fender name badge, just the name Excelsior, and a big E shaped cloth covering on the front to help echo the vintage vibe. the Excelsior only gets weirder and weirder when you come to find its three inputs, for Guitar, Mic, and Accordion…yes, that’s right, Accordion.

Each channel is designed specifically to complement that specific instrument, and by that I mean it is patterned after vintage amplifiers for that purpose. The guitar amplifier features wiring that is patterned after a vintage combo amp, and features everything from country clean tones with big snappy twang, to big roaring blues rock crunch. The Mic channel seems to be patterned after similar amplifiers, but with a bit cleaner mid range, as it seems to have been designed for use with harmonica mics more than vocal microphones. This means that the Mic channel features slightly scooped mids that help give the mic channel an extra little grind when it’s overdriven. I even went as far as to get an A/B box and toggle between these two channels to help figure out the difference, and it really is just a slightly scooped out midrange, which allows the amp to sound more “full range” than normal.

The accordion amp seemed to take a lot more to distort than the other channels, and had a much brighter sound to it than the other channels, which was nice when you consider that this amp is only 13 Watts and will spend most of its life at least slightly distorted. The last neat little feature about the Excelsior is the Tremolo feature, which is very, very musical. It adds a nice soft oscillation to your tone, and its speed knob never allows it to get too intense to where it’s a buzz saw, or a stutter, just a soft musical warble. Overall I loved the Excelsior, and if I had the extra cash lying around I would have snatched one up in a heart beat. For its ability to have so many sounds in one little box, and for its retro cold-war styling, the Excelsior lands a respectable 9 out of 10, and it doesn’t score that last point for the same reason as its sister, while it is a great classic sounding amp, there just isn’t enough gain on tap for many guitarists wanting a more modern sounding amplifier

So there you have it, some very respectable amps, with a pedigree from one of the most beloved Amp manufacturers on the planet, with a vibe and a tone that is half a century overdue. These amps are sure to be a hit with lovers of low watt amps everywhere, and you can get them and many more Fender amplifiers right now at Worldmusicsupply.com!

World Music Supply | Randall Amplifers

Hey everybody, it’s Brian with World Music Supply, and today I’m here to talk about the Randall RT503H and the Randall RT412CX. The Randall RT503H is an all tube, 50 Watt, three channel amplifier that is by and large one of the best amplifiers we offer in this price range.  The three channels are arranged how you would expect, from clean, to overdrive one, and the ultra saturated overdrive two. It also comes with a series effects loop, a real spring reverb tank, and a three button footswitch. I paired the RT503H with its matching RT412CX cabinet, and my humbucker equipped Tele, and sat down to figure out what makes this amp tick.

The Randall RT503H

The Randall RT503H

Before we step into the actual tones within this amplifier, I want to point out just how handsome this amplifier actually looks. It features a large steel grill covering the main components, and a brushed steel face plate. The most unique thing about the amp however, is easily its cool blue LEDs that glow when the amp is running.  Now that we have taken a brief look at how the amp looks, lets move onto the important part, how it sounds.

Channel one is the clean channel, and it features exactly what you would expect, clean guitar tone which sounded warm, and a tad dark. I liked how the RT503H filled out my sound, never did it seem like the clean channel was too “dry” so to speak. I never was left feeling like just because I was on a clean setting that my tone was lacking something. The clean setting also takes pedals rather well, and it has a wide range from clean to gritty, so you can have a little volume fluctuation without worrying about your sound distorting if that is a concern you might have. 

The darker character of the RT503H made it fantastic for warming up a sound, for example all of my country style tele licks came out with more body than usual, and when I ran through some blues progressions it was far bolder than usual. Rolling off my guitars tone knob, the darker tones of the amp gave jazz licks that big round tone that is surprisingly hard to achieve. The cleanest of cleans are simple, and surprisingly musical on this amp.

Ramping up to the higher volume and higher gain settings on the clean channel, I was awarded some nice classic rock style distortion. There was plenty of swampy sounding C.C.R style swamp and AC/DC style crunch inside this channel, almost enough that the name “clean” seems misplaced. Once I had a nice 70s style tone dialed in, I was able to just use my volume knob to go from cleanest of cleans, to a nice big overdrive. I love the versatility of this channel, and with it being so accepting of pedals, using overdrives and distortions make it so much cooler.

However, using overdrives and distortions would be misplaced, as this amp still has two whole channels left to cover. Next up, is overdrive one. My favorite part of this amp is that the gain is linear across the channels, the peak of channel 1 is the bottom of channel 2 and the peak of channel 2 is the bottom of channel 3. so overdrive one starts out on that big, full 70’s style overdrive that I loved from channel one. From there it slides all the way up to a very modern sounding bark, the kind of tone you would associate with late 90’s style alternative rock.

The Randall RT412CX

The Randall RT412CX

I liked the idea of getting to revisit some of the songs I had learned in my earlier days as a guitarist, with a tone that actually suited them for once. So dropping my tuning a whole step to help compensate, I found a plethora of dark, booming metal riffs. The gain was high, but it never got fizzy or annoying, and it wasn’t so over the top that I needed a gate or anything. The dark character of the amp was useful and musical again, as playing power chords sound so much more ominous when they are played through an amp like this, and high shred lines have so much more body than usual. The spring reverb also helped, as having it on a lower setting gave my notes just that little extra magic to keep even long sustained notes sounding interesting.

While I’m almost certain that the Overdrive one channel has more than enough gain for everyone, or almost everyone, the RT503H goes a step further. So I cranked the gain knob on channel three, and hit the footswitch to switch up. I was immediately greeted with a wall of screaming harmonics, as my guitar was overpowered by the blast of sound from the amp. This channel seemed like it would need a gate at the higher end of the spectrum, so I rolled the gain back a bit, to about halfway. Still over the top, the High gain power of the Overdrive two channel is enough to make the Overdrive one look miniscule in comparison. 

I went out and grabbed a Boss NS2, and bit the bullet, cranking the gain on channel three to the very brink. I got the most over the top lead sounds, just fiery, blooming tones. This would be a great channel to use if you played in a very modern metal band, in the style of periphery or the like. Dropped tunings felt fantastic on this channel, and switching to a seven string, I was blown away at how this channel performed with all that was thrown at it. Never once did it get muddy, or transform higher notes into synth-y sounding sine waves, as many amps do at the highest of high gain settings.

The Randall RT503H

The Randall RT503H

Overall the RT503H is an overall outstanding amplifier, with more than enough power on tap for any player, in any genre, from country to jazz, and from rock to even the most brutal of metal. The RT503H has more than enough power to do it all, which is why the RT503H easily receives a 10 out of 10.

The Randall RT412CX

The Randall RT412CX

However, while the amp is amazing on its own, it can’t be said how valuable the RT412CX is to the tone of this amp. Designed by Randall to be the perfect match to the RT series of amplifiers, with its four vintage voiced Celestion G12M 25W speakers, and its ¾ birch plywood cabinet with a sealed back, this cabinet really adds a lot of power and punch to any amplifier. It features a very modern look with its all black steel grill cover, and its black tolex covering, a fitting addition to the equally modern looking RT503H. While this is a great cabinet when used with any amplifier, when paired with the RT503H, they are a virtual dream team of tone. Which is why the RT412CX also receives a well deserved 10 out of 10.

I have to say that I loved getting to test out this amp and cabinet combo, and they are easily some of the best products available at such a low price right now on the market. If I were you, I would head over to Worldmusicsupply.com and get yourself one of these monstrous amplifiers now, before they’re all gone, and at this price that won’t be long.