The only amp in this roundup with rock-star cred thanks to its co-development by George Lynch, the RM50LB takes a “buffet” approach to tone via its swappable preamp modules (purchased separately). There are 20 different modules to choose from (all made in China, as is the RM50LB), including the Super V and Mr. Scary units that were included with our review amp. The head’s front panel features rectangular openings where the modules slide into, along with Master Volume, Effects, Density, and Presence controls. On the back panel we find a footswitch jack (for the included RF-1 footswitch), the biasing test points and bias adjust screw, impedance selector (4Ω, 8Ω, 16Ω), main and extension speaker jacks, slave out, Master Volume Boost control, and separate sets of send and return jacks for the parallel and series effects loops. The head also houses a full-sized reverb tank, which connects to the parallel loop’s send and return jacks. Reverb level is controlled by the Effects knob, however, if you want to use the parallel loop for outboard effects, the reverb cables must be disconnected from those jacks. Cosmetically, the RM50 and its matching speaker cabinet look very sharp with their green alligator pattern Tolex, silver piping, and pewter colored “Lynch Box” badges.
Loading the modules into the head simply involves sliding them into place and tightening the two securing screws. Starting off with the Super V module ($259 street), which sports a copper-plated panel and pointer knobs, I plugged in a Gibson Historic ’58 Les Paul and began exploring what this preamp had to offer. With the Gain about one-third up, the Super V asserted itself with a grinding tone that sounded cool for rhythm playing and blues and rock solos. This “Vox” style module won’t get super clean, however, and even turning down your guitar doesn’t make it lose its toothy edge. What it does do is get very distorted when you get the Gain knob up past halfway, yielding tones that aren’t particularly reminiscent of anything made by Vox, but have a slicing edge that makes humbuckers really cut. The Density control worked well here for fattening up the low-end with these brighter timbres. The reverb adds a nice sense of dimension too, although the effect comes on very quickly and gets quite splattery sounding if you turn it up too high.
The Mr. Scary module ($299 street), which has a black panel with chromed skull knobs, unleashes much more distortion as the Gain control is turned up. Optimized for high-gain shred tones, this module has good chunk factor—especially when the Density control is cranked—and can deliver a furious amount of aggressive grind that hard rockers and metal players will appreciate. No real surprises here—think classic George Lynch Dokken and Lynch Mob tones and you’ve got the picture.
The RM50LB gets a little pricey when you start factoring in the cost of the modules, but if you’re looking for a lot of flexibility it’s hard to beat this concept of quickly changeable preamps. (As of press time, the new version, called the RM50LB2, comes with Grail and Mr. Scary modules for a street price of $1,549. Randall is also now installing Celestion Vintage 30 speakers in the RS1212 cab.)
CONTACT Randall Amplification, (847) 949- 0444; randallamplifiers.com
PRICE $1,299 retail/$1,099 street; modules $209-$299 street, each
CONTROLS Amp: Master Volume, Effects, Density, Presence. Modules: Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, Master.
POWER 50 watts
TUBES Amp: three JJ 12AX7s, two JJ EL34 power tubes. Modules: Two JJ 12AX7s.
SPEAKER Randall RS212LB ($649 street) w/two Eminence Lynch Super V 12" speakers
EXTRAS Reverb. Biasing test points and adjustment screw. Series and parallel effects loops, fan cooling.
WEIGHT 41 lbs
KUDOS Lots of flexibility thanks to the swappable preamp modules.
CONCERNS Difficult to get subtle reverb effects.
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