Can you guess which part of the tower of power it is?

No, it's not the cello, it's the Randall RG100 ES!! It's ok, you tried your best.

The Amp:

I'm sure many of you are familiar with the RG100, but if not, I'll give a brief rundown of it's history: In the early 80's, George Lynch from Dokken was using Randalls and wanted more gain, so he worked with engineers at Randall to create the RG100. After that it was made popular by Dimebag from Pantera using it as his main rig through his first few albums. Even Chuck Schuldiner from Death used them in the early days.

This particular example is from 1986, and it's not aesthetically in the best shape, with some rust on the corners and visible corrosion on the inputs, but nothing fuzzes or buzzes that isn't supposed to, which is all I really care about. A few of the knobs are missing their caps, I'm going to have to mark the direction they're facing or replace them.

In the coming weeks I'll dig into this thing and really clean it up. I'll sand off the rust and spray paint the corner guards and the screws that need it. The footswitch isn't working, I'll have to open it up and see if anything is visibly wrong. This whole thing is just dusty as hell.

The Sound:

Yes, it's solid state, but holy f*** this thing is loud, and it really does sound great. It's no wonder why so many big names used these. I picked this guy up two weeks and took it through a few band practices as well as playing a show with it on Saturday. The three main things I have taken away from this amp since I've had it, in order:

1. It's loud. Anything more than halfway is too much even over the rest of the band.
2. It doesn't have quite enough gain for me at usable volumes (more on that later)
3. This thing will rattle your teeth out and then crush your face with how much bass it pushes.

I have played through solid state halfstacks before, I actually was the not so proud owner of a cheap Crate halfstack for about a week before I returned it when I was 16. It was 100w and even through a 4x12, couldn't be heard over drums. Complete crap. So I expected to have to turn this amp up higher at least than my V3M, but hell no. It stays at 4 in the studio, any higher and my drummer is yelling at me to turn down which brings me to more whining on his part...

If I have the bass up past 5 or so, my drummer yells at me again, this time because it's rattling his ears painfully through his big shooting ear muffs. I should mention, we backline our cabs behind the drumset due to the shape of the room.

So now for the gain. This amp comes with a pretty unique feature in that if you pull the treble knob, it severely cuts the volume and ups the sustain and gain while cutting some of the lows (there's still plenty). So in this mode, it absolutely has enough gain for what I play, and sounds pretty good doing it, BUT it just isn't loud enough to keep up with the band in this mode. I was exploring the option of slaving my V3M with it to use the Carvin's power section to push the Randall's distortion, but I couldn't get it to work (here's the thread).

So after a bit of research I found that most people throw in an OD pedal into the loop to boost the gain. On the reccomendations I saw out there, I picked up a used Fulltone OCD at GC yesterday and holy shit, it sounds awesome. With the gain down to a bit less than 20% on the pedal, and ~90% on the Randall, this thing is a beast. We don't tune very low (Eb), but this would do downtuned death metal very well. I put it in drop D just to mess around a bit and this thing is just crushing with out getting muddy at all. Fast palm muting and tremolo-picked speed runs come out very clear and intelligible while still having enough chunky crunch to the palm mute to be really satisfying. It really takes on what ever role you're trying to take. I could see this doing womb-crushing death metal one minute, then high, singing 80's metal lead tones the next with just a few adjustments.

This is weird:

One thing that is kind of strange about this amp, is that without the footswitch choosing the channels, both the gain and the clean play at the same time. So if you want a full clean tone, you'll have to turn the gain channel all the way down before you can. This can actually lead to some interesting tones though, if you turn up the gain on the clean side and slowly up the volume, it kind of works like a boost and can give you a big sound on your gain channel. I could see that being useful in places, but it still isn't enough gain for extreme metal.

Also, it has a 200W "convenience" power outlet on the back. I've never seen that before, but it's pretty cool. I might zip-tie a power strip back there and only have to run one power chord to the wall. Does anyone know if that is safe to do?

The Price:

At the end of it, after buying the amp and the pedal I ended up spending less than $200. That's right. $75 for the amp, and $90 for the pedal. For as much of a beast of a rig this is, I would expect to have to pay upwards of $1000 to get anywhere near this tone. I was looking at Mesa Boogie DC-10s, 5150/6505's, and used Dual Rectifiers when I stumbled across this amp, and after playing around with all of them, I honestly prefer the Randall. It doesn't quite register that a sub $200 setup can even compete with the heavyweights, but it really does. I'm in love.


I paid less than $200 for the head and the pedal, and came out with a rig that competes with the champions of the amp world. If you threw this amp into a new shell and slapped a "better" name on it, no one would know the difference. My band assumed it was a tube amp after hearing it and wasn't until I mentioned otherwise that they said "WTF, really?!?!"

These things usually go for $150-$200 on craigslist and eBay, if you can find one, it's definitely worth checking out. It really is a beast of an amp. I'll go to the studio after work today and upload take a clip of it. Any excuse to play it is fine with me
Last edited by ExDementia at Apr 23, 2013,
Fuck Solid State- toobz are where it's at.

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Last edited by randomguy2000 at Apr 23, 2013,
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Fuck Solid State- toobz are where it's at.

It's crazy how many people dismiss these amps just for that reason. Tube amps sound great, but it's almost become a religion. Kind of like how some people completely write of Blackstar because some of their amps are hybrids. If it sounds good, why the hell does it matter?

Thanks, man
Solid state amps definitely have their place in music, primarily on the more (most :P) extreme side!


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Nice stack you got there.


Can you compare contrast the Randall, Tweeker and V3 and how you use them individually? Ever run any of them in stereo?

Can't answer the clean channel switching problem. Must be a bad relay or something. Also, can't really help with the power 'outlet' thing. I'd be scared to death to use it

PS: Most of us hear do not despise Blackstar so much for their op amp trickery as is the 'All Tube' claim that they hit the market that got a lot of people sideways. Those guys should have known that their amps would get opened up and that their claim would be tested.
Last edited by 311ZOSOVHJH at Apr 23, 2013,
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Bear Republic Racer 5. If you're a fan of aggressive IPAs, you'll enjoy this one.

I am

Too bad I have NEVER seen it around. Whatever, I'll just stick with Flying Dog brewery for now.

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Bear Republic Racer 5. If you're a fan of aggressive IPAs, you'll enjoy this one.

I've had Racer 5 at one of my local haunts. Good stuff. Cool Amp. Congrats man.
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Nice stack you got there.


Can you compare contrast the Randall, Tweeker and V3 and how you use them individually? Ever run any of them in stereo?

Can't answer the clean channel switching problem. Must be a bad relay or something. Also, can't really help with the power 'outlet' thing. I'd be scared to death to use it
Thanks man!

The V3M was my main rig for the past year. It has plenty of gain, but comes out a little dark and seems to lack the bite I want for individual notes -- especially in fast technical picking sections. It's not muddy, the notes just don't stick out and sing. It's a great amp, and honestly sounds better than most, but for my stuff, it left me a little wanting. The full V3 is a little brighter, though and I was looking for one of those too.

The Tweaker is my other guitarist's head, it's also a bit dark, but is still really punchy. It has a really unique tone that compliments other amps, but doesn't get lost behind them with it's unique sound. It really does live up to it's name though, it takes a lot of tweaking to get it where you want it.

Now the Randall might take the place of my main head. I'm going to play a few more shows with it and see how it works out. Also, just to clarify, the amp plays both channels by design without the pedal. It's strange, but that's how it left the factory. Once you plug in the pedal though, it works as you would expect, BUT you can still select both to run simultaneously. Weird, huh? I had to check the manual online to be sure, because I've never heard of that before.

Also, that's a good idea. I'm going to try and run the V3M and the Randall stereo tonight and see how it sounds. That would be really cool.
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i have owned two RG100ESs' before. they are good amps. i have been contamplating picking one up that a local shop has for $150 with functional footswitch, but i just have too much gear and i don't know if it would get enough use.

they are good amps, and may be 'your' tone, but i wouldn't say its on par with a mesa or a peavey or likewise, being that it is SS vs. tube. but it is one hell of a good amp SS or not

the one thing people fail to realize, is that it does a lot more than just the pantera it can get a pretty good variety of tone.

i really like the tone with the treble pulled out into sustain mode, but as you said, you can't quite get it up there as well in terms of volume.

i have a century 100 combo that is a few years newer, but it is hell of an amp, just like the RG100ESs'

also, what speakers are you pairing with it?

HNAD the nice ones are getting harder and harder to find.
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Yeah, I'll clarify on that, I meant that the rig including the pedal (IMO) keeps up with Mesas and Peaveys -- not just by itself. It just needs that boost to push it into godlike metal territory, and some help with the EQ. Its hard to imagine, but after going around and trying out a DC-10, a 5150 II, and a Rev Jr this past week, I can honestly say that the Randall + boost does the job at least as well as any of those. I seriously wasn't looking to spend less than $1000 before I found out what this thing can do.

I'm running it through my old B52 AT100 cab, which people tend to wince at when they see the name, but its a good, solid cab with genuine V30's from the factory, so I'm not sure what the fuss is about.

I couldn't get a decent clip tonight due to other bands practicing in nearby rooms to our studio, I'll get there earlier tomorrow and try again. We need to find a more isolated room; this shoddy construction and no sound proofing is getting old.

Thanks, man!
I guess its safe to say that RG100ES has legendary status for a reason.

Randall should have sticked to this design, improving it instead of turning them to hybrids or desperately trying to mimic tubes otherwise, with more or less satisfactory results. On the current RG lineup I think they also realised this themselves, going back to the roots if marketing people are to be believed.

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naaaaaa, HNAD dude i think it actually looks kinda cool in the state its in. you gonna get clips up at some point?? would be cool to hear
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Bear Republic Racer 5. If you're a fan of aggressive IPAs, you'll enjoy this one.

Definitely going to have to keep my eye out. I love IPAs. My personal favourite is probably Avery Maharaja. Great deal on that amp too. Enjoy.