Hands-On Review:Randall G2 Amplifiers
Randall G2 Amplifiers
Big guns that don't cost big bucks!
By Lonnie George
Randall makes amps for playing loud. It's as simple as that. Randall is dedicated to the noble tradition of rock that really rocks ... that pounds, slams, bludgeons, and generally brutalizes. In short, Randall makes tough amps that can dish out big time hi-gain sound.
Building a powerful amp is only the first challenge. The second is making it sufficiently affordable. Amps with 100W or more and speaker sets that can sear the back wall are generally quite costly, especially the classic tube models. Randall has attained both high performance and an affordable price with its G2 series amps and combos.
Like a brick house
A lot of amps can't handle the hard stuff, at least not for long. Speakers eat it, cabs blow apart, tubes or chips burn out, and that's if the amp has enough juice in the first place. Not Randalls. These are amps made by the company that arms guys like Dimebag. A G2 can handle the load and has the output.
If you play music that demands massive crunch and searing leads, it's smart to start with a Randall because you'll likely end up getting one sooner or later anyway.
The most metal-challenged components are the speakers. Stout, able-bodied speakers are a must, and Randall covers it with Celestions. All the G2 combos and cabs feature Seventy 80s which are designed for high-gain amps. They have the handling power, the massive magnets, the strong cones, and sturdy cast frames that let you turn it loose without fear you're going to shotgun the crowd with cone fragments.
The G2s are also made stout enough to handle the rough stuff. The cabs are constructed of sturdy, thick birch ply. This good wood and heavy-duty construction contribute to the overall heaviness of the G2 amps, but make them ableto hold up to road abuse and top-end volume beautifully.
In addition to sturdiness, the cab design works well for hi-gain applications. The combos have semi-open backs to give you the outfront projection you need while maintaining good bass response for a strong crunch. Another problem with playing loud is heat, but the G2 amps score well on this point, too. Because they are high wattage, they can generate huge volume without overworking, plus a big, exposed heatsink sync on the amp's back is there to keep things cool.
Randall G2s come in a range of sizes from 75W single 12 combos to 200W monster heads. I chose the middle-sized RG100SC/G2 to try out for this review. It's a 100W stereo combo with two 12s with all the standard G2 features, plus chorus. It is a practical size because used alone it gives you plenty of swat, yet it has enough juice to run a 4x12 extension cab for a 3/4 stack. In my world, I can't imagine needing a bigger rig than that, and there's always the line out for running to the board for reinforcement.
Loud doesn't make it if it doesn't sound good loud. I liked the sound of the new RG100SC/G2, especially the way it held together when cranked. All the G2s have the same preamp circuitry so they should all have similar tone. The combo I tested was all Randall-a big, beefy sound with lots of strong lows and plenty of cut.
Setup and controls
The G2s are two-channel amps, but function like three-channels because the distortion side has two modes. Mode one is described by Randall as a Brit sound, but it isn't a copy of any specific amp. It is actually the more subdued of the two modes-a comparatively tight, controllable sound that is great for strong, solid rhythms. The second mode is much more over-the-top-perfect for detuned shred or all-out lead. Between these two modes and the clean channel, you have substantial sound options.
The RG100SC/G2 is equipped with an excellent set of controls, especially for hi-gain playing. On the distortion side it has level and gain knobs and a gain select switch for its two modes. Then it gives you three bands of EQ with a voicing switch on the mids for a choice of two centers. It also has a contour control that lets you quickly shape your sound. Like all the G2 models, the RG100 has spring reverb-the good-sounding, long-can type-with independent controls on each channel. The clean channel has a level knob coupled with a boost switch for solos, three EQ knobs, and, of course, its reverb control. This particular model adds stereo chorus with on/off, depth, and rate controls.
The channels, the two modes on channel one, the chorus, and the boost on channel two are all footswitchable. On the back panel there's a ground switch, an effects loop with in and out level controls, and four extension speaker jacks: right and left at 4 ohms, and right and left at 8 ohms. You can run different speaker setups, plus keep it in stereo so the chorus sounds especially cool.
I'd sum up the RG100SC/G2 as a professionally equipped, highly flexible unit, with lots of tone-shaping capability, plenty of power, a stout build, and a great sound. If you're looking for a pro amp that can do a great job in the hi-gain world, the RG100SC/G2 is a great choice. If you're really power mad, one of the 200W G2s will put you in the WMD class. And if your budget is tight, the 75W G2 is hardly a sissy amp. The 100 watters give you the best of both worlds. If you play hi-gain rock guitar, there's a Randall G2 that's the right amp for you.
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