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.

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World Music Supply | Washburn Nuno Bettencourt Signature Models

Hey guys, Brian from World Music Supply here again, to talk to you good people about some more cool guitars from our friends, Nuno Bettencourt, and Washburn Guitars. Today I got the chance to take a look at two more of Mr.Bettencourts signature models, each with their own defining features that help them stand out from the crowd.

The Washburn N24FNMK Nuno Bettencourt Electric Guitar

The Washburn N24FNMK Nuno Bettencourt Electric Guitar

First up is the N24FNMK, which is a flamed maple top version of the N24. The N24FNMK features the aforementioned flamed maple top, which is finished in a matte coating, there is also a Floyd Rose Special, a coil tap switch, and as with all Nuno Bettencourt models, it comes armed with Nuno’s favorite Bill Lawrence bridge humbucker and Stephens Extended Cutaway. Aesthetically this guitar is beautiful, with its tiny, light weight agathis body which is capped with that stunningly flamed maple top. Plugged in, this guitar sounds fantastic, with pure clear tone, which has great string to string definition and amazing body and warmth.

The neck pickup has plenty of acoustic like qualities to it, which makes it great for just strumming out chords, and playing warm sounding snappy licks, it has plenty of body too it, but not so much that it seems wooly or overly bass-y. The bridge pickup is bright sounding, but in a good way. It has a lot of body to it, but it definitely favors the treble frequencies, which is great for lead playing, although it is a little over kill on a bone dry setting. Compressed however, the Bill Lawrence humbucker has a very funky characteristic, which still retains its bright sounding punch, but it takes away the snap and twang from the tone, which helps the sound of this pickup work in a clean situation.

Distorted, this guitar is on fire! The power of the sound that is delivered from the combination of this guitar and our resident Randall RT503H, full of gritty metal tones, biting hard rock swagger, and 80s style sizzle. The neck lends itself to lighting fast runs, and the Stephens Extended Cutaway really lets you slide all the way to the top of the neck. The sound of this guy through the amp was heavy, with tons of screaming overtones and harmonics that just aren’t present with other bridge pickups, its clear after a few moments why Mr. Bettencourt favors this pickup so heavily. Try as I might I couldn’t get a bad tone out of this guitar, and I honestly have to say that if you’re looking for a jack of all trades super strat, the N24FNMK might just be your man. The N24FNMK earns itself an awesome 10 out of 10.

The Washburn N2PSNM Nuno Bettencourt Signature Electric Guitar

The Washburn N2PSNM Nuno Bettencourt Signature Electric Guitar

Next up on the rundown, is the N2PSNM which is a Padauk version of the popular entry level N2 model. The sound of Padauk is something that I have loved for awhile now, but first and foremost, you have to love the look of this tone wood, with its clear beautiful grain, and bright red coloring. The sound has often been compared to rosewood, which is a fair comparison, there is a lot of mid and high end definition, with a slightly glassy character, with the low end remaining tight and round. The combination of Padauk and the standard equipment of the N2 series, the Bill Lawrence pickup and Floyd Rose, this guitar sounds absolutely amazing.

Clean, the N2PSNM has a very full texture, with a lot of big bold tones, that really favor chords all over the neck, as there is just tons of definition to be found in this guitar. There is also loads of sustain to be found here, which has a tendency to hold the fundamental far longer than most other guitars that are armed with a floating trem system, which can sometimes rob the guitar of sustain.

Distorted, this guitar has a much more aggressive sound than any of the other variants of the Nuno Bettencourt signature I have yet played, which lots and lots of bite and grind to its sound. The amount of metal grind that you can kick out even at lower gain settings is just amazing. The lead flavor is round but with lots of sustain and bite on tap, and the rhythm sound has definition, but it really eats up any amount of distortion you feed it, always maintaining its clear crisp voice, but with all of the growl and thunder that you want from it.

I love the way this guitar sounds, I really, really do. The sound of Padauk is powerful, and exotic, leading me to ask why a tonewood that is in such large supply, with a cool exotic color and sound that you just don’t get with the standard maple, mahogany combo. Regardless, all wondering about tonewoods aside, the N2PSNM is one heck of an instrument, and easily deserves its score of a 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Washburn Nuno Bettencourt Signature

World Music Supply | Washburn Nuno Bettencourt Signature

World Music Supply | Nuno Bettencourt Signature N4-Vintage

Hey guys Brian from World Music Supply here again to talk to you all about a few cool guitars designed by our friends over at Washburn for another one of our friends, Mr. Nuno Bettencourt. Nuno Bettencourt, most well known for his time as the lead guitarists of Extreme, and recently as the touring guitarist for Rihanna, has had a long standing relationship with Washburn who has produced his signature series guitars for the past 22 years, many of them carrying similar or identical features with one or two things changing, while the rest of the guitar remained the same, those being the locking tremolo system, Natural finished body and the Bill Lawrence bridge pickup. Other common features include the Stephens Extended cutaway, and the occasional use of Padauk wood.

The Nuno Bettencourt Washburn N4-Vintage Electric Guitar

The Nuno Bettencourt Washburn N4-Vintage Electric Guitar

In today’s review I got the chance to review one of the higher end models, the N4-Vintage, which was built right here in the good ol’ US of A, and it comes decked to the nines in any and everything Mr. Bettencourt could imagine. The Matte finished aged alder body feels comfortable and smooth, and the aged hardware looks just grungy enough to make you feel important with a guitar like this, like you were carrying around a guitar that really had seen that much time on the road. But not so grungy that it felt unclean, or maltreated in its tenure on the road.

Plugged into our resident tube amp, the glorious RT503, The N4 sounded exactly as I had imagined, biting, but with clarity for days on the bridge pickup, and smooth and soulful on the neck pickup. The action on the neck was super flat, but without even a hint of string buzz, and the response from the Floyd Rose was just divine. Clean, this guitar had everything you could dream of in one simple package, and for the most part, the absence of a tone control didn’t seem to bother me, although it made comping jazz tones a little more difficult. Granted, not many people with this guitar are getting it to play smooth, crystal clear jazz licks; most of them are getting it to play rock, really, really hard rock.

Through a distorted channel, this guitar just sang, with the bridge pickup driving the amp into a blistering grind, and the neck pickup taking it to a soulful, smooth singing lead tone. I understand why a guitarist like Nuno would want something like this around his neck all day, with its light body, its resonant singing tone, and its lightning fast action, for what it was designed to do, play like a dream, and look handsome doing it the N4-Vintage gets an EASY 10 out of 10.

World Music Supply | Washburn Guitars

Hey its Brian here from World Music Supply and I’m here to talk to you guys about some cool guitars from Washburn. Over the years Washburn has earned a reputation for cool guitar designs the world over, having crafted the custom guitars for artists like Paul Stanley of Kiss, Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme, the late Dimebag Darrell of Pantera, and even the likes of Bootsy Collins. When it comes to well made guitars, Washburn is one of the leading names in this day and age, and today we’re going to review three of these fantastic instruments, specifically the XMDLX2FRFPSB, the WMISTDLITECB, and lastly the XMPRO2USEPB.

The Washburn XMDLX2FRFPSB

The Washburn XMDLX2FRFPSB

First up to bat today is the XMDLX2FRFPSB, which while being just one of the many great guitars in the XM Deluxe 2 line, it is the only one in such a striking finish, I mean what more do you say about this finish, flamed transparent purple. No picture I take of it really does it justice, but wow, is this eye catching or what! The black hardware contrasts nicely, and gives it a very medieval feel to it, with its chunky black steel Floyd rose, and its royal purple coloring, this guitar is just something else.

Plugged in it’s the same story,  this guitar with its Seymour Duncan designed pickups, just sounds out of this world. Clean, this guitar had far more warmth and texture than any other strat style guitar in its price range. The tone had a fullness to it that you don’t get from many guitars in this price range, this is mainly thanks to its basswood body, and its beefy pickups. When I cranked the gain up on the amp however, this guitar just woke up. Suddenly, it was just singing, with a voice that evoked some of the greatest guitar legends of the 80s. all of that throaty sustain, and sweet bell like harmonics. Also, lets not forget that this guitar comes standard with a Floyd rose tremolo system, what that means is not only does this guitar have that thick 80’s style shred tone, but it has the hardware to back it up.

Within moments of cranking up the gain on this guitar, I was throwing down every great speed metal lick I could remember, with screaming harmonics, to dive bombs, to “beat it” style overly exaggerated vibrato. This guitar can do it all, is at a price that anyone can afford, and lets face it, it really has a look all its own, and it’s because of that fact that the XMDLX2FRFPSB gets a well deserved 10 out of 10.

The Washburn WMISTDLITECB Mighty Idol

The Washburn WMISTDLITECB Mighty Idol

Next up is the Mighty Idol WMISTDLITECB, which is a fantastic little guitar. I say little because it’s a LITE guitar, meaning Washburn has trimmed away as much of the bodies thickness as they can, while still retaining the natural tone of the instrument. This results in a guitar that has a brighter, quicker attack, and a weight that is a fraction of that of its non LITE brethren, while never being neck heavy, or thin sounding. Couple that with its Duncan USM Alnico pickups, and couple that with the coil tap switch and this is one Mighty Idol.

Plugged in the WMISTDLITECB has a smooth, resilient tone that has all of the warmth and body of a normal LP style guitar, but with a little more snap and shimmer to it than you would expect. Clean that translated to an almost acoustic quality, with very strat-y style colors available when you flick the coil tap. This all translated to smooth quick jazz tones, with all of the warmth and body of a big jazz box, just in a much smaller package. Thanks to its coil tap feature, it also has the capability of having great twangy tones, meaning you can do country style runs as well, which is always a handy thing to have in a guitar.

Distorted however, this guitar went from a good clean sound, to a great rock sound. Thanks to its thin body, it has a tone reminiscent of an SG, which means that this guitar has a lot of bark behind it, full of bold AC/DC style swagger and bite. What this means is this guitar has a lot of really vintage spark to it, playing it through a journey tune or two with the band, or a few back in black style riffs was no problem. Switching it into single coil mode, and I got a tone more reminiscent of a Jaguar, or mustang than a strat or tele, which is a good thing, as usually getting those short scale fender tones requires buying a much more expensive short scale fender. This all made playing a few of those shoe gaze style post-rock riffs a real joy, and also added up to a really unique guitar tone, a jaguar style tone locked away in a lespaul style body.

In short the WMISTDLITECB has a lot of real potential locked away in its tiny frame, from searing blues rock, clean country spank, big jazzy dancing, or even post-rock weirdness, this guitar has it all wrapped up in one simple package that is super easy on the eyes, and thankfully, the wallet. For this amazing ability, the WMISTDLITECB scores a 10 out of 10 for its jack of all trades style.

The Washburn XMPRO2USEPB

The Washburn XMPRO2USEPB

Last up for the day is the XMPRO2USEPB which is the most metal member of the XM PRO family of instruments. With its pearl black body, all black hardware, and its EMG 81/85 pickups this guitar is armed to the teeth so to speak. The longer Fender style scale length also means that this guitar can cope with lower tunings amazingly. I tested this guitar under two set-ups, one with standard .10 style electric guitar strings, all tuned up in standard, and a second review, with the guitar strung up in .13s tuned a step down.

Running clean and in standard tuning, this guitar has that nice warm, albeit dark tone that I have come to expect when it comes to EMG pickups. Granted, tweaking the amp a bit from my usual set up results in a nice, bright twangier sounding tone as well, but I am growing to like the warm rumble that I get from EMG pickups on my clean channel. It was great for doing jazzy style runs, and it warmed my country style licks right up. Just strumming the guitar resulted in warm bell like chords, with tons of string definition and body. Tuned down this guitar had great piano like sustain, with all of the snap, and brooding baritone esk sound that I wished it would.

Turning up the distortion a little, and this guitar came alive. Suddenly its dark clean tones, became monstrous distortion tones. Tuned in standard, this meant that I had the definition and body to comp anything from classic rock, to modern metal, all of it drenched in fiery distortion and perfect string to string definition. This fact is only expanded on when I dropped the tuning. Suddenly the guitar had a bark, and an attitude that really spoke, everything had its own unique sound, and this guitar really didn’t sound like any other metal guitar I have played before. It really had an attack and a clarity all its own. For this fact alone, the XMPRO2USEPB scores a perfect 10 out of 10.