Friday, August 16, 2013

Randall RG80-112SC Amplifier

Here is one that I thought would never get away. And not because it's not a good is. In fact it's a great amp that should be getting more respect out there in the vintage market. But sometimes it's just time to move something don't have room or you need the money for a different purchase or whatever it may be. I put this one up for sale on Craigslist and thought I'd have no problem finding a buyer...I put a very affordable price on it at $150. And I got responses. So I lowered the price, lowered it again, lowered it again, and finally asked if anyone wanted to make a trade. And that's how I finally moved it. But let's talk about the amp for a second.

I've always been a Fender amp guy over the years, and now I've become a Vox AC15 guy. Love that amp. On my second one. Well, sort of third...I bought one of them twice. But somewhere in the back of my peripheral amp vision, I have always thought there was something cool about those old early '80s Randall combo amps. You know the or gray strip of color across the front. Mostly I noticed the 1-12" combo amps and I can't really explain it, but I always wanted one. I'm more of a tube amp snob in some ways, and these Randalls are solid state. But I'd always heard good things about them and that they sounded as close to a tube amp as you could get. I've since read that this vintage RG80 is the gold standard among solid state amps and that a lot of manufacturers still use the same basic circuitry or electrical layout or whatever you call it for many amps today. I know nothing about it, so I have no idea. But I can tell you that this amp does sound really good and, although not quite as tasty as good tube amp of the same size, it's not a bad option if you happen to run across one. They are more famously used by The Edge of U2, George Lynch, Def Leppard and Dimebag Darrell.

Randall made a lot of different models in this era, but the RG80 seems to be the one that gets the most attention. It's got one 12" speaker...a Celestion G12-80...and it's got 80 watts of power at 8 ohms, 100 watts at 4 ohms. There is a speaker out, an effects send and return, and if you're lucky, it will still have the original footswitch with the funky 6-prong connector. The one I bought didn't have the original footswitch, but they are not too hard to find on the ebay for around $40. You can also buy nice repro footswitches for around $65. The reverb in these amps is really excellent and sounds just like an old Fender amp. As I've mentioned in previous stories, I'm a Tele guy and play fairly clean and this amp pulls that sounds off very well. With lots and lots of power. You'll need the footswitch to be able to channel switch, and I didn't have the footswitch with I really only got to check out channel one. But, for me, I'm really just going to kick in a Tube Screamer or something similar to get my dirty sound anyway, so it worked out very well. I've also read that you can run a speaker out to a bigger cabinet and this thing will blow your doors off. I've always liked my doors right where they are, so I didn't try that option. But it's there. If you don't need doors.

Since this blog is about the stories of how they got away, the quick version of how I came to own this amp, and then eventually sell it, goes something like this. Not too long ago I hit one of those patches where I just decided that I didn't need electric gear. I've done this once before and didn't learn from my mistake. I sold my Vox AC15, sold my Teles, and sold my pedals. Just took it all down to acoustic gear only. I play singer/songwriter gigs occasionally and I've been the acoustic music guy at a few weddings and charity events lately...but I am not in a band and haven't been playing live with an electric guitar in a long time. So, I sold my stuff. Dumb. After only a couple of months, the opportunity to get back together with some old bandmates arose...and I had nothing to play with. I did one rehearsal with my acoustic gear, but it just wasn't going to cut it. With very limited funds, I set out to find an amp and a guitar as cheaply as possible. I found a really cool (really) Xaviere telecaster copy for under $100. It's an inexpensive copy and I'll eventually replace it, but it's seriously a pretty cool guitar. More on that another time. Then I hit Craigslist for an amp. That's when I saw this Randall for sale and I knew I was finally going to get my hands on one of these things.

The guy wanted $125, but it had been for sale for a little while and I figured I could offer him $100. I got there to check out the amp and it was a little dirtier than you'd hope for and had obviously just been sitting around for a long time. I plugged into input #2 and it was super scratchy. Made a lot of noise. We all recoiled in horror. But when I plugged into input #1, all was fine. Sounded great and no problems. You only need one input anyway, right? Reverb sounded good, everything else worked fine....I shook my head a few times, hemmed and hawed, and finally offered the guy $80. Surprisingly he took it with no hesitation. I had an amp. Got it home and it sounded great. I cleaned it all up and took it to the next band rehearsal. Still sounded good, but I guess I'm just used to tubes and if I'm 100% honest, as much as this amp sounds good for solid state, it's just not a tube amp. And there IS a difference. I knew I was going to need tubes. The following week I got paid for a freelance job and had a few extra bucks. I looked on Craigslist again and, lo and behold, a guy was selling a Vox AC15 for $300. I talked him down to $275 and I was back in business with my favorite amp. I immediately listed the Randall on Craigslist and...well, you read the intro...had a bit of a tough time selling. I won't go back through all the markdowns again, but the bottom line is I ended up trading the amp for a nice Ibanez Tube Screamer TS-9DX. Since I paid $80 for the amp and really only had to put a little cleaning work into it, the trade worked out okay financially. Similar value I suppose. But mostly I was just really disappointed that no one recognized what a great deal the Randall would have been, even at my first price of $150. Would I buy another one of these amps? I don't know...I guess the answer is "maybe." Just depending on the circumstances and price. I'd definitely recommend it to someone looking to get a whole lot of amp for the price and looking for something that is going to be reliable for gigging. No doubt about it. But I think I'm always going to want tubes. That's just me.


Anonymous said...

I will never sell my RG 80!!! I bought it new, in 1984 and it still kicks ass!!!
AJax Lepinski

Anonymous said...

I now own a second RG80!!! WOOO HOOOO!!!! Ajax Lepinski

Anonymous said...

I have owned a GS80 amp since 1982 used it to power it self and a half stack, for many years, and still use it today. WOW what an amp.

Anonymous said...

Ok I can buy this amp off a buddy..i have a 2 12 cabinet with Bugera speakers in it...if i plug this in to my cab , does the amp speaker shut off or continues to play...thanks

Anonymous said...

I got this Amp as a gift, because a friend no longer wanted it. The Fool. I plugged my little Washburn BT2 Maverick Pro QVS into it and played in the garage for about 30 minutes to my total amazement. The Reverb does not work, but i don't use it. The Pedal works great for switching channels, and let me tell you that is an awesome change in sound. This amp is very clean and responsive.

Murray Davis

Anonymous said...

I just purchased my 2nd Randall RG-80 with original footswitch. Back in the early 80's I met one of the engineers / designers of the RG-80 circuit(s). He told me that the original circuit was designed to be a "solid state" clone of the 4x10" tweed bassman circuit with added features. Could be they got it pretty close. Great amp...indeed.

Ajax Lepinski said...
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Ajax Lepinski said...
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Ajax Lepinski said...

If anyone needs info about the RG80 reverb tank:
Original Version (very early 1980's, no witch hat knobs)= Tank # 9EB2A1B
Newer Version (later 1980's early 1990's to current) = Tank # 4FB2A1A
I recently opened both versions for some maintenance... The original version has higher value capacitors and has more low end available. I have not been able to find any schematics for this version. Schematics for the newer version, can be found online. If anyone has schematics for the old version, with the Type 9 reverb tank, please let me know!!! Thanks!!!

Ajax Lepinski said...

Just correction to my above post...

The NON-Witch-hat knob version with Tank # 9EB2A1B, was from around 1987.
The Witch hat version was from the early 1980's

1987 amp without witch hat knobs = Tank # 9EB2A1B
Early 1980's Witch hat knobs = Tank # 4FB2A1A

Thanks to Snave for the new info about the dates!!!

Ed Aureli said...

Never heard an amp with better reverb than the Randall RG -80-112SC.