The Randall RG13 may very well be the most ambitious amp-in-a-stomp box product ever conceived.
This sort of thing is usually just a preamp or distortion box marketed with claims that it can perform like a real amp.
The RG13, however, truly is a standalone solid-state guitar amp that can be connected straight to a speaker cabinet or placed in front of a guitar or power amp like a stomp box or preamp.
While the RG13 is much bigger than the average stomp box, it’s very small for a three-channel amp, especially one that boasts a wide variety of professional features.
Features: The RG13 provides three independent, separately voiced channels, each with its own set of gain and volume controls. Channel 1—the clean channel—also provides a bright switch. All three channels share the same set of bass, middle, treble and presence boost/cut EQ controls, a bass boost switch, and a mid scoop switch. Other front-panel features include three separate footswitches for selecting channels, a Loop-Boost mode with level boost/cut control and footswitch (more on this below), and a master volume.
The RG13’s side panels contain a 1/4-inch guitar input, a 1/8-inch stereo media input, a 1/4-inch unbalanced line output without speaker emulation, an XLR balanced output with speaker emulation, and a ground/lift switch. The rear panel features 1/4-inch mono send and return jacks, a switch for selecting effect loop or boost functions, a 1/4-inch speaker output for connection to an eight-ohm (minimum) speaker cabinet, and a nine-volt DC/500mA center-negative power output that can be used to supply power to other stomp boxes.
The Loop-Boost section can be configured for several different functions. With Loop mode selected via the push switch, it functions like a standard effect loop. With Boost mode selected, it bypasses the effect loop and allows users to adjust boost or cut level with the front panel Loop-Boost control and engage that setting with the Loop-Boost footswitch. With the Loop setting selected and nothing plugged into the send and return jacks, the Loop-Boost footswitch performs a mute function. If you plug a tuner into the send jack only and engage the Loop setting, the Loop-Boost footswitch will mute the signal and allow you to tune up in silence.
Performance: The RG13 sounds, performs and feels like an amp because it actually is an amp. The best-sounding results are obtained when connecting a speaker cabinet to the speaker output. I tried the RG13 with Randall’s excellent RD-112D cabinet and a Marshall 4x12, and the volume output was quite impressive, especially since the RG13’s output is rated at only one watt. Randall perfected solid-state distortion many years ago (as Dimebag Darrell often attested), but the RG13 delivers Randall’s best solid-state distortion tones ever. The crunch is powerful, the attack is fast and razor sharp, and the tones are thick, rich and exceptionally detailed.
A shared EQ section is usually a compromise on most multichannel amps, but here it actually works well. Once you dial in a satisfying tone (I recommend starting with channel 3), more often than not it also sounds good on the other channels. However, it you prefer drastic tone changes between each channel, the RG13 will leave you wanting. The distortion tones on channels 2 and 3 are very ballsy and perfect for metal. The mid-scoop button can help you nail Dimebag’s tone, and the bass boost function provides absolutely massive textures unlike anything you’ve heard from a pedal-sized device before. The boost function can be set to dominate any mix, and it retains incredible clarity even when every gain and volume control is maxed out.
List Price: $374.99
Manfuacturer: Randall Amplifiers, randallamplifiers.com
Cheat Sheet: A true three-channel solid-state amp in a stomp-box configuration, the RG13 includes a speaker output jack for connecting the unit directly to a speaker cabinet.
The effect loop section can be configured to perform four different functions: effect loop, boost, mute or tuner output.
The Bottom Line: If you’re looking for the ultimate combination of portability and versatility, the Randall RG13 delivers the goods in a pro package that is equally suited to live performance, recording and practice.