The late great Randy Rhoads left an indelible mark on the guitar world when he passed away in 1982 with just two Ozzy Osbourne albums to his name, and a pair of Japan-only releases with his original band, Quiet Riot (yes, that Quiet Riot). At a time when Eddie Van Halen was revolutionising guitar playing with his party-guy antics, flashy technique and legendary ‘brown sound,’ Randy provided the Yang to Eddie’s Yin with similar technique and tone but an altogether darker aesthetic.
Before recording Blizzard of Ozz with Ozzy, Randy ordered some Marshall amps direct from the factory, based on the 1959 Super Lead but customised with white Tolex and including several modifications. The most important of these mods is a change to the way the two channels interact with each other. Typically, a Marshall Super Lead would have two channels, I and II, which each have 2 inputs. Players discovered early on that they could run these two channels together by joining them up with a short cable, but the 1959RR offers an internally-facilitated variation on this idea, all in the name of increased gain. The mod, which is only on channel II, cascades both halves of the first 12AX7 preamp valve, feeding the output of the first stage into the input of the second, instead of using each half separately for channels I and II. This effectively makes channel I’s volume control function as a master volume, while turning the channel II volume into a gain control. Or if you are after a classic Super Lead sound, just plug in to channel I, throw in some industrial-strength earplugs and off you go.