Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Music Man 112 RD One Hundred Amp


I think maybe I'll make this "Amp Week" here at The Ones That Got Away. So I'll start off with a favorite. It's my opinion that Music Man amps just might be the most underrated vintage buy out there. They've got all the right bloodlines, they sound fantastic, they hold up well, and they are priced right. Well, I think they're priced wrong...I think they should be selling for a lot more than they are. I have owned a few Music Man amps over the years and I've owned a few old Fenders as well, so I have a good point of reference for that sound. I'll take the Music Man at less than half the price.

The first Music Man I owned was a 410 Sixty-Five. Basically it was a Super Reverb knockoff. That thing really sang. I don't know why, but I've always liked 10" speakers teamed up with my usual Telecaster for a nice rhythm guitar sound. A few years ago I was sitting around, not having been in a band for a few years, and decided I didn't really need an amp. I have never really stopped home recording, but decided to just give it a go with a Line 6 Pod 2.0 for all my recorded electric guitars. It worked out fine, though a bit generic and my decision to own zero amps and take up less space was working out. Then a friend from an old band gave me a call and said he was getting married. He wanted to get all the former bandmates together to play at the reception. Sounded like a lot of fun, but...oh shit...I've got no amp.

I had a little time, so I started watching Craig's List and poring over eBay, looking for something that would fit my paltry $250 budget. I came across a Music Man 112 RD One Hundred that had a replacement Jensen Neo speaker. I don't know if the non-original speaker made people shy away, but somehow no one ever really bid against me and I got this for less than my budget. I was a little concerned about shipping across the country with a heavy amp, but I got lucky and no issues. I broke it out of the box and set up in the living room. Checked the tubes to make sure they hadn't come loose. Pulled out the original footswitch. Plugged 'er in.

Ssssshhhiinnnggg. Beautiful! That classic clean Fender sound was immediate and amazing.

Music Man amps from this era are pretty easy to figure out by the model name. The 112 RD One Hundred has one 12 inch speaker, reverb and distortion, and one hundred watts of power. Pretty loud and powerful for a 1-12" set-up. This little baby can keep up with just about anything. I am no expert on amps...no one is going to confuse me with Gerald Weber...but from what I understand, Music Man amps were really the first successful semi-hybrid type amps. They have a solid state preamp section and a tube power amp section. So, the guys who started Music Man, whom you may have heard of before...Leo Fender, Forest White, and Tom Walker, all historic Fender folks...really got it right. They originally called the company Tri-Sonics, but later changed the name to Music Man. The reverb was excellent, the switching between channels worked well and the distortion was fine, but I really prefer to just find a good sound and kick in a Tubescreamer for some overdriven distortion.

The reason I got rid of this amp was kind of the reverse of how I got it. After I got it, I played it a little here and there, but mostly it sat with my gear, not getting played and taking up space. I realized that I had really never used it for recording since I tend to record late at night when the kids have gone to bed, and waking them with a hundred watts of guitar ain't gonna work. So it went on Craig's list for $350 and sold fairly quickly. I think savvy players have started to come around about old Music Man amps and are keeping their eyes peeled for bargains. I know every time I see one for sale locally I want to hop in the car and go pick it up. If you like that nice old Fender sound, be sure to give a Music Man a chance. You might be surprised.

14 comments:

Pribek said...

Way back, I had a 210HD which was, I think 130 watts and, 2 10" speakers. At the time, I also had one of the first G&L guitars (don't remember the model name, 2 humbuckers w/coil taps) and it was a perfect match for the Music Man.
A really loud little amp and it weighed a ton. It sounded great when pushed and with an overdrive pedal in front.
I saw Johnny Winter a couple of years ago and he was still carrying his Music Man's with him.

Sean said...

You don't see them here in the UK much and it's taken me a long time to build my rig. The 65s can go for as much as $2000 over here while the HDs are as cheap as $750 in good condition. I have two RD100 heads through two 412GS cabs. It took me and my tech 2 years to get that together. I run a 1988 EC Sig Strat with Fishman piezo bridge to them - bridge to one set up clean, guitar to the other, nice and dirty with the mid-boost on or magical with it off. It's basically a Townsend setup but he runs the Piezo to the PA. I use a RD112 50 in the studio. I am 62 this year and I have had Mesa, Dr Z, Two Rock, Fuchs even tried a Dumble once. Had Traynor in the 70s, another underrated amp but this set up is cream - absolutely.

Get some!

Sean Tyla

Chaotic Smelt said...

About 15 years ago, I was living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and there was a 210HD at a local music store for $200. I loved it and was THIS close to buying it, but as I was playing primarily hard rock, I finally decided against it (not without agony). Now, older and wiser, how I wish I could go back.

And here's one that somehow didn't get away. As a 16-year-old metalhead in the mid-80s lusting after a modified Marshall stack, I wasn't too impressed with the tiny tweed Fender practice amp given to me by my aunt, after my uncle passed away. He had MS, and I never knew he played guitar until she gave me the amp. For some reason, I held onto the amp, because of sentimental value I guess. And now that I'm a 39-year-old playing everything from rock to blues to jazz and even metal, I've grown to understand just how awesome that 1955 Fender Champ sounds!

Anonymous said...

I picked up a 210-HD about 10 years ago at a pawn shop for $30. Best investment I ever made... great sound, great look, and unusual to my circle of guitarists.

Anonymous said...

I've had several of these Musicman's across time. I bought an HD130 new and loved it but sold it when I needed money. My favorite amps were the RD50-10 and the 65-2x10. The RD 50 really sang on the lead channel and was very light. The 65-2x10 was a real rockin' monster. With a tube screamer pushing it, the think sound like Neil Young's Tweed Deluxe at times. It had two alnico speakers and was pretty light. Both amps were great for a number of styles.

Pate3000 said...

I got mine in late 70's a 4x10" combo - I just can't remember the exact model. I was a teenager then and I somehow lost the bloody amp, maybe because midi came and I traded all of my guitar stuff to keyboards and modules. I remember paying money and giving my 78 hardtail Fender Strat for Roland MT-32 Dear God. But years go by and now I have matured and just bought a 112RD 100W and boy I'm happy... needless to say but I could have bought practically any amp on the market...

Anonymous said...

i just scored a 2 10 hd yesterday, its loaded with JBL D 110s , what a machine! played it on my gig last nite, brought my usual amp along just in case, no need !!! smooth and predictable , great sound. i have to admit i merely bought it for the speakers , now im figurin out which one of my other amps to get rid of to keep the Musicman. sold !

Anonymous said...

I bought a Musicman amp in 1989 when my first wife walked out on me - a good enough reason I say.
Here is a picture of it.
http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/20767698

billyjcoombs said...

I've been using a musicman 410 I bought nearly 20 years ago for $300 in Windsor Canada and it's been playing and gigging all that time. It's a workhorse! Hundreds of gigs later. Not good for practicing at home though as it only sounds good past 2 and that is too loud!

Anonymous said...

I have a 112 RD 100 which I bought new in 1983; traded in a Fender Twin for it and I've never regretted it. I must have used it on a thousand gigs. I'm from Canada and it's been in the trunk of my car through extreme heat to extreme cold and has never failed me once. I love this amp. I also have a 112 RD 65 which I use as back-up, sometimes run them in stereo. They are both awesome little amps. Harry E.

Anonymous said...

I bought a Musicman RD112-65 new in 1979 .... upgraded the speaker to a JBL K120. That along with my '69 LP deluxe goldtop (long gone and dearly missed), was my main clubbing rig for the better part of ten years. At the time I thought it had a monsterous tone. I sure would love to be able play through that setup again & see if indeed it sounds and feels as good as I remember it!

Anonymous said...

Hi, When I was young and have my first real job I bought a new 112 65 RD. The price was 6800 skr .... must have been about 1130$ at that time, it was 1981. This amp is best on stage use and not for quite playing at home. On low volume the clean sound is great but you cant override it with the solid state preamp. I use a tubescreamer or similar instead to crank it. On stage in a large club/arena just put power amp on 10 and preamp on > 5-6 and it will cut trough the mix with a smooth screaming distortion. Never run the preamp high and the power amp low. It sound awful. A couple of years ago my local amp tech change the 6CL6 to EL 34 and I like that distorsion better. Demos of MM amp on youtube often sounds bad because now one dare to play them loud enough on the power amp to get the real smooth MM tube distorsion.

Anders, Stockholm, Sweden

Dave Williams said...

Hi, I used to use a Fender Supertwin regularly for ten years till one of my friends were selling MM RD 50 1 x 12, that was in '86/'87. I've dallied with other amps for a few months, back to the Twin, Seymour Duncan 60 and others, always coming back to the RD, the grass is always greener etc, but after using other amps for a while I'll plug in the RD and its sound is just so right, the distortion is the best I've heard on a MM amp, I haven't looked at another amp for at least twenty years. I came across another RD 50 for sale locally about 8/9 years ago and snapped it up, I play Strats live and no effects except for H&K Rotosphere which splits the signal to the two amps I run one clean and one dirty with a clean boost built into the guitars for convenience and that's it. I find them ultra reliable, one amp dates from '81, the other from '82. The '81 is the first one I bought, For the past few years I have had a Celestion Alnico Gold fitted, I still have the original valves for it, Mesa 6L6s are in it now, if I swop them for the original Sylvanias the amp runs a bit cooler but I can't detect any degradation in tone, just a slight difference. Just shows how good the Williamson derived circuit was I guess (The Williamson circuit made the valves run cooler to make the amp more reliable) The '82 has old Phillips valves which could be original, and there is an Eminence 100w fitted. As previous posts state an absolute GEM of an amp.

TUtrumpet10 said...

I have had a 65-210 for years, I bought it @ 1980 when I decided I needed a better guitar than my MIJ Epi semi, and went looking, with some X-mas money luckily a new shop had just opened in town and I took the guitar in to be valued towards a trade. The owner looked at me & the guitar and asked "How much do you have to spend and what are you using for an amp"? I told him $100 + the trade on the EPI and a little 1x8 ss combo
"You don't need a new guitar, you need a set up and a better amp " $15 and a hour later I had a guitar that sounded like Lucille esp. when he played it thru this squat little MM combo, "how much is THAT amp" "Umm, What do you do on Sat mornings?" "Uhhh not much", "Ok we are open 10-2 you come in and help out while I give lessons and it's yours when school lets out for the summer.. " So that's what I did, I learned to do set ups, and eventually gave group lessons to beginners. Still have the amp and the guitar, it sounds great with my Strat and LP , I even play my old Beatle Bass thru the "plain" channel on occasion .