Wow, the end of an era and the start of a new one. Randall is discontinuing the MTS modular line (which includes preamp modules for signature artists Kirk Hammett, Scott Ian and George Lynch). The company recently announced the hiring of Mike Fortin, founder of Fortin Amplification,to craft a new series of high-end, high gain all-tube amps including the new 150 watt Kirk Hammett signature model head. The photo above appears to be one of Fortin’s six-channel Meathead amps but with a Randall logo, which is serving as the jumping-off point for the Hammett amp.
Here’s the press release:
Randall Amplification Announces Mike Fortin as Exclusive Design Engineer
Chicago, April, 2012 - Randall Amplification would like to formally introduce Mr. Mike Fortin as an exclusive design engineer for Randall Amplification. Mike, as the founder of Fortin Amplification has forged a worldwide reputation for creating cutting edge high gain amplifier designs. We are excited to have Mike be a part of our team!
Mike’s first priorities will be a new multi-channel, 150 watt Kirk Hammett Signature Model Head and a whole range of high end, high gain all tube amplifiers to be manufactured in North America. The new Fortin designed series of Randall amplifiers will replace the discontinued MTS Series.
Arch Enemy are about to embark on the last round of touring for last year’s excellent Khaos Legions. More melodic and with maybe a touch less death than you might expect from a melodic death metal band, Khaos Legions is also the last Arch Enemy album to feature guitarist Chris Amott, whose departure from the band was announced earlier this month. But mere line-up changes can’t keep Arch Enemy down: new guitarist Nick Cordle of Arsis has taken up the co-guitarist throne alongside Michael Amott, and the band has a lot to say and do before they put the full stop at the end of Khaos Legions.
You’re about to come to Australia for a very short tour. Only two shows. You know what that means for a lot of fans: heavy metal road trip!
Yeah! We’re happy that we got the opportunity to play Australia at all this year, but it’s just these two shows. We wanted to play it safe. And it’s at the end of an Asia run. We start in Japan and do four shows there, then we go round Singapore, the Philippines, Korea, various places around Asia. Then we got the opportunity with a new promoter to tack on these two Australian shows, Melbourne and Sydney. We’re just really excited about doing it. I guess it’s been a couple of years since we were there now.
The last time I saw you were was probably Gigantour.
Yeah. I think the last time we were there was ’09. We did Gigantour, we’ve done a few different things down there. This will be our fourth or fifth visit to Australia, and this will be the last one in a while. We’re obviously not going to come back this year after these shows, then next year, 2013 is going to be a year off for Arch Enemy mostly. We’ll probably put out a new album in 2014. So I don’t know, maybe 2015 we’ll be back, if metal is still around at that point! So it’s going to be a while, so if anybody wants to see us and get their dose of Arch Enemy this is the last one for a while.
Obviously the hot topic at the moment is Chris’s departure from the band. What’s the story?
Well, Chris informed us in October last year that he wanted to leave the band. Again. [Laughs]. He’s been out of the band, in 2005, 2006, 2007.
Check out the Randall Headhunter amp by George Lynch. George has been doing his Mr Scary customisation to guitars for a while now and he has just branched out into amps. These aren’t going to be cheap, but each one will be unique and each one will be super-cool. Nice huh? Couldn’t seem to find spec info but I’ll look around on Sunday!
Nuno Bettencourt has always had an ear for punchy, listenable distortion tones. Check out his sound on the Dramagods album Love, or Extreme’s latest, Saudades De Rock, for great examples. Nuno’s standard combination of bare-wood guitars and high output pickups means his amps need to be able to handle the kind of ultra-fine tonal detail that such features demand. and after years of collaboration, Nuno and Randall have introduced the NB King 100.
The NB King 100′s styling is unmistakable: it simply looks unlike any other amp in the world. For starters, all of the controls are over on the right hand side (the left features a badge of the logo for Nuno’s post-Extreme band Mourning Widows – and dude, you really have to check out their two albums), and the control panel is dominated by a seriously oversized volume knob and a VU meter. The design scheme is mirrored on the matching speaker cabinet. The matching NB412 speaker cabinet includes four 12″ Celestion Greenback 30s and is made from 3/4″ void-free birch plywood. It’s also freaking heavy.
So this just arrived to review for a mag: the Randall NBKING100 Nuno Bettencourt signature head. More info here. As I write this it’s 8:37pm – can’t exactly crank it up right now to see what it can do – but I’m gonna have some fun tomorrow.
Wanna hear it in action courtesy of Mr Bettencourt himself?
George Lynch is one busy dude. Souls of We, Lynch Mob, his new album Orchestra Mayhem, not to mention various gear-designing and art projects. Lynch is heading to Australia soon for an Allans Music clinic tour, and I caught up with him via email for this quick chat:
You’re coming back to Australia soon for Allans Music. You’re quite a regular visitor here now! What can we expect to see and hear at the Allans clinics?
A little bit of everything. Plying along to tracks, improvising with other live musicians, meeting fans and signing my name a lot! lol
What can you tell us about Orchestral Mayhem (CLICK HERE to buy Orchestral Mayhem from Amazon.com)? How did you approach it?
Very casually. I didnt have to write the material and that takes a lot of pressure off. This record is basically just me blowing over a bunch of tracks over a two-day period
Can you tell us about the Morley Dragon 2 Wah? What do you look for in a wah pedal? The wah lock function is a great idea.
I always liked the idea of having a notched wah selector incorporated into a wah pedal. You can get that Schenker throaty EQ by hitting the switch every time. You don’t have to search around for the sweet spot.
A few questions about Lynch Mob’s Smoke & Mirrors: The album sounds so powerful and earthy, and it seems to me that there’s a lot of blues or blues-rock influence. Is that what you set out to do, or did it evolve naturally?
Thats just the natural chemistry between Oni and I. I know where he lives melodically and I just naturally gravitate to that place when I’m writing the music.
There’s some very cool slide playing on the title track. Do you play a lot of slide? Who are your slide influences?
I love slide, pedal steel, slack-key …I’m not an accomplished slide player by any stretch of the imagination but i enjoy dabbling. I actually used a 9v battery on the record because I didn’t have a slide. Derek trucks and Duane Allman are two of my faves.
What gear did you use to record the album?
Guitars: ESP Super V and ESP custom Tele for rythms, Tiger and Tele for solos.
Amps: Randall Lynch Box with various modules, 68 Marshall plexi, 65 Fender super reverb, WEM Domintator, Lynch Box cab with super speakers, 71 Hiwatt cab with Fanes
Effects: I used many differant OD pedals; Cusack Screamer, Japanese Boss DS-1, Ting of Tone, Tube Screamers, DOD 250… Lots of vintage MXR Phase 90, morley Dragon Wah and Tripler pedal, Zoom G2G for various fill-in sounds, Fulltone Deja Vibe (old).
Last time I interviewed you, you said you had a guitar design you hoped ESP would build: you described it as “a Lexan body with a carbon fibre exoskeleton and a throbbing rose coloured LED embedded in the body.” Any luck convincing them to do that yet?
No! lol.. I get wacky ideas that are not practical. They’re polite enough to listen to my insane ramblings for awhile then usually tell me no. They learned their lesson when they built the 7-string motorized pickup guitar called the Aardvark which didn’t work very well and went over like a lead balloon.
Any other new guitar designs in the pipeline, either for your own use or available to the public?
I’ve got a signature guitar model I share with a Japanese artist that’s a camo Strat, 24 fret, invader pickups, not for the faint of heart. I’m also working with ESP on a Tele design and I’m working in collaboration with them and hand making Mr Scary guitars as well. You can chek them out atwww.mrscaryguitars.com
You’ve recently started building/modifying guitars and selling them online. What’s your philosophy regarding these guitars?
The heart of the guitars are the woods that we pick, the radical designs that are very organic, and achieving incredible tone and effortless playability, all in a package that looks 100 years old and feels like you’ve been playing it for 40 years
I was interested to read that you were making your own pickups. Any plans to make pickups available to the public? I think it’d be a very cool limited edition thing.
Seymour Duncan has taken me under his wing and given me hands-on experience building unique pickup designs from scratch.. I’m also recreating the prototype Distortion and Screamin’ Demon models.
You’ve also started selling art online. Is this something you’ve always been into or is it a more recent development? And do you see it influencing designs for your ESP guitar line?
This last year I dived into creating these art pieces which led to carving the guitars. I’ll actually be doing some gallery art showings where well be performing with acoustic instrumentation, banjos, mandolins, percussion … real laid back.
Finally: how on earth are you balancing Souls Of We, Lynch Mob and projects like Orchestral Mayhem?
Thats not even the tip of the iceberg, my friend! But I love playing and being creative, and I promise you it will all make sense when we look back a few years from now.
GEORGE LYNCH AUSTRALIAN CLINIC DATES AT ALLANS:
May 25 – Allans Music – Melbourne
May 26 – Allans Music – Sydney
May 27 – Allans Music – Brisbane
May 28 – Allans Music – Adelaide
Metallica’s Kirk Hammett has been using a signature Randall head based on the company’s MTS platform (with interchangable tube preamp modules) for a few years now. While it’s a very useful and toneful product, there are a few little setbacks in getting MTS to the masses, the most difficult being cost. That’s where the KH120RHS comes in. KH120RHS is the overall name for a package which comprises the KH-120RH head and the KH414 Celestion Rocket 40-loaded 4X12 speaker cabinet. The 120-watt solid state amp head is designed to funnel the basic tone of Kirk’s might higher-priced (and physically much heavier – good lord, you tried to lift one of those things?) amp into a unit that the average metalhead can most likely afford after spending a summer slinging burgers (like Kirk famously did to buy his early gear in his teens).
Starting at the input to the far left and heading right, controls are Gain 1, a Gain Select button, Gain 2, Bass, Middle, Contour, Treble, Volume [Overdrive channel], a Channel Select button, then Bass; Middle; Treble; Volume [Clean channel], Master Volume and (spring) Reverb Level. Next there’s a headphone jack – yes, a headphone jack on an amp head – and the single power button. (One little niggle I have about this amp is that the chickenhead knobs are a little too close together and it can be quite easy to accidentally turn one while you’re twisting another). Around the back we have speaker jacks, a fuse, a series effect loop, footswitch jack and an auxiliary input for connecting your CD player or iPod.
I tested the KH-120 with the ballsiest metal guitar in my arsenal: an Ibanez RG7620 seven-string with DiMarzio Crunch Lab and LiquiFire pickups. First I tested the clean tone. Here you’ll find just the kind of dry, cold, sterile (in a good way) clean tone needed for classic Metallitracks like ‘One’ and, with a bit of chorus and delay, ‘Enter Sandman.’ This is not the kind of clean channel that you can nudge into a bluesy snarl or a warm overdrive: rather it’s a clean-as-clean-can-be place to go to when you need to set the audience up for the ensuing hailstorm of metal fury you’re about to unleash (see: ‘Blackened’). This same quality makes it a great platform for adding effects, and I found it to be especially handy for unobtrusively allowing my fuzz pedal to do its filthy thing.
At its lowest gain setting, the overdrive channel barks out that ‘intro to St Anger’ punchy dirt sound – which is also great for Meshuggah tones at the lower reaches of my 7-string. Turn the gain up around midway and you’ll find approximations of the classic ‘Black Album’ era tone. Actually, scratch that: it reminds me more of Kirk and James’s live sound from that era, so if you’re like me and you’ve spent many hours pouring over bootlegs and official releases from that period of the band’s history, you’ll feel right at home blasting out ‘Wherever I May Roam’ or the cool droney bits from the verses to ‘The Unfogiven.’ Keep the mids around halfway for that ‘black’ magic, or roll them down for some harsher ‘…And Justice For All’ mojo. Crank ‘em for more of a ‘Death Magnetic’ vibe. It’s not just a Metallica-maker though – the tones and range of gain will suit pretty much any type of metal you throw at it, from vintage to extreme.
The KH-120′s also good for lead tones. For instance you can get somewhere in the vicinity of that ‘Fade To Black’ wah-aided singing lead tone by coaxing the treble down while boosting the mids and gain. But unless you’re happy to set the twin gain controls for all-out distorto overkill and a more reigned back version of the same voicing, you might find yourself having to compromise between the perfect lead tone and the ideal rhythm one. A third channel would obviously have rectified this, but that would come at a price which may push the amp out of the price bracket of those would most stand to benefit from it. Unfortunately that’s going to limit the KH-120′s appeal somewhat for lead players, which is ironic given that Kirk is more known for his soloing than his rhythm playing.
I think it’s important to say that if you can stretch your budget to the full-spec tube-driven MTS-based Randall Kirk Hammett stack, you probably should do so – certainly if you require distinct rhythm and lead distortion tones. The KH-120 is capable of very usable lead tones and some pretty spectacular rhythm sounds, and it’s not a bad amp by any stretch of the imagination, but you’ll get more bang for your buck – not to mention more depth of tone, more responsiveness and far greater bragging rights – by shelling out for its big brother if you’re able to. If not, you still know that with the KH-120 you’re getting Kirk-approved Metallitone in an amp that’s pretty unique and voiced to sound as authentic as its solid state design will allow.
First saw this on Blabbermouth.net, so credit where credit is due!
Randall Amplifiers claims on their Facebook page that Gus G will be playing his first show with Ozzy at Blizzcon this weekend. Here’s their post:
Randall Amplifiers is getting ready to watch signature Randall artist Gus G. make his debut as the new guitarist for Ozzy this Saturday, August 22nd. The concert will take place at the Blizzcon convention and be available on DIRECTV pay-per-view. Watch him play his signature Heaven and Hell half stack!
So there ya have it! I’m sure it’s more than just a rumour if Randall’s posting about it – after all, Gus G probably had to order or borrow a bunch of amps to fill out the stage for the show. I feel pretty bad for Zakk Wylde right now.
The NB100 head is still pretty hard to come by at the moment but I can’t wait to try it out one of these days. Here are the specs of the NB100 head from the Randall site:
Designed with Nuno Bettencourt and partner Peter King, the new NBKing100 is the perfect combination of classic regal looks and modern circuitry to reproduce the legendary percussive tone of Nuno Bettencourt. A classic 2-channel amp with 3 modes of operation, you can instantly select via the MIDI channel switching, a sparkling CLEAN channel with the perfect amount of drive, an OVERDRIVE for any vintage to modern high gain rhythm tones and a SOLO mode for unparalleled harmonic sustain. The rear panel features include MIDI in/thru, Power tube bias section and Series Effect loop.
CH. 1: Clean Mode
CH. 2: Overdrive Mode
CH. 3: Solo Mode
All Tube • (4) E34L Tubes
VU Output Meter
CLICK HERE to buy the Randall Nuno Bettencourt NBKing100 100W Tube Guitar Amp Head from Musician’s Friend.
CLICK HERE to buy the Randall Nuno Bettencourt NB412 100W 4×12 Guitar Speaker Cabinet from Musician’s Friend.
CLICK HERE to follow Premier Guitar on Twitter.
Last year I reviewed Randall’s RM100 head and a few preamp modules for Mixdown Magazine. This series allows you to swap out different preamps from a whole bunch of different models so you can create your ideal setup. When I reviewed the amp, my favourites were based on the Marshall Plexi and the Bogner XTC. Of course, I couldn’t help but feel that it would be great to have some way of trying out all of the modules without having to stop playing.
Enter the RM12. It was originally designed for dealers to demonstrate the modules, but its 50 watts of chameleon-like awesomeness will soon be available to the public.
The RM12 isn’t ready for production yet but I’ll keep you posted.
CLICK HERE to see the back of the RM12.
I haven’t been able to find this on Dean’s website yet, but there’s a story on Blabbermouth about Dean launching a new, solid state Dimebag signature amp called the Dime Blacktooth with the blessing of Dime’s girlfriend Rita Haney and his guitar tech, Grady Champion.
The Blabbermouth story reads, in part:
Dean Guitars has just unveiled the new “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott (PANTERA, DAMAGEPLAN) amp called Blacktooth. It was reportedly approved by Dimebag’s longtime girlfriend Rita Haney and will retail for $699.00.
Grady Champion, one of Dimebag’s former techs who’ll be hitting the road with BLONDIE later this year, demonstrated the amp earlier today (Friday, January 16) during this year’s NAMM (National Association Of Music Merchants) at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California.
This one is bound to stir up some strong feelings in the metal community. Dime never played this amp (I’ve never seen a Dean amp before except for bundled practice amps), and at the time of his death he was so into Krank amps that he left his beloved Randall for them. So what does this mean for the brilliant Krankenstein Dimebag signature head?
(Screenshot from Deanguitars.com webcast)
I’ve been into George Lynch’s heroic guitar playing and to-die-for tone ever since I was about 14 and one of my older cousins showed up one day with a box full of cassettes. He’d been doing some spring cleaning and I guess he was growing up and entering the ‘real world’ and no longer had time for the wild-haired rock I’d always associated him with. Among that box were a few Dokken cassettes, and Lynch’s playing blew my mind. Not long after, he released his Sacred Groove solo album, and I was set on my path towards mastering that wide Lynchian vibrato.
I was fortunate to interview George a few months ago in preparation for Lynch Mob’s Australian tour. The current Mob line-up includes drummer Scot Coogan (Bridges of Destruction, Ace Frehley), bass legend Marco Mendoza (this dude is so charismatic he shows up David Coverdale on Whitesnake’s recent live DVD), and singer Oni Logan.
The first three tracks played were ‘She’s So Evil,’ ‘Hell Child’ and ‘Street Fighting Man’ from the first Lynch Mob album. Coogan has that rare ability to seem like he’s at the front of the stage even though he’s hidden away behind a drum kit, and his energy brought a powerful edge to the already riff-stomping Mob sound. George used his legendary J.Frog ESP (the one with the awesome carved skull and bones) for most of the set, although it was very cool to see him break out his ESP GL-57, which looks like a modified and bashed up Stratocaster. Amp-wise, he appeared to be using a Soldano SLO-100 and a Marshall Plexi, but the amps were turned towards the back wall (either for better isolation or because George wasn’t using his signature Randall amp, I’m not sure) so it was hard to tell. But his live tone was every bit as crunchy, clear and vocal as his studio work. Guitarists in the crowd, and I’m sure there were a lot of them, could learn a lot from the clarity of his tones, which are clean enough to remain punchy, but distorted enough to sound thick and edgy.
A particular highlight for guitar geeks such as myself was Lynch’s instrumental signature, ‘Mr Scary.’ The studio version included multiple overdubbed guitars, including a huge harmonized melody, so it was interesting to see how it translated to a single guitar, bass and drum interpretation. It came across more like an extended jam, with Mendoza covering a huge amount of ground while Lynch whipped across the guitar neck. When it was done, my ass was thoroughly kicked and somewhere my inner 14 year old was saying “Whoa…” Other Dokken tracks in the set were ‘Into The Fire’ and ‘Tooth And Nail.’
Finally, with ‘Wicked Sensation’ and a Scot Coogan stage dive as an encore, Lynch Mob were gone, but hopefully it won’t be too long before they return. With a new album on the way (the first with this particular line-up), I’d love to see them play a larger venue with a bigger stage to prowl upon.
Photo by Gabrielle Geiselman