52 Amplifier Heads, week 24—Randall Diavlo RD5H

After 24 weeks of researching what will be the first tube amplifier head I am destined to purchase, I thought it was time to revisit my needs. What am I after exactly? A tube head obviously. But what are the specifics? Basically, they are this:

  • Low wattage for home use
  • Ability to produce brutal metal tones

As you can see, my needs are simple. But what I’m really after is something that provides more metal tones than anything else. I want a built-in metal tone that I can expand upon with my pedal farm. I want an amplifier head that looks metal because it is metal. Hello Randall Diavlo RD5H.

Regular readers of this article series will know I am doing all of this research online. So I’m reliant on the articles I read, the images I see, the videos I come across and the feedback I receive once the article has been posted. The Randall Diavlo RD5H is already looking like it has what it takes to become my first tube amplifier head. When it comes to video endorsement it doesn’t get much better than a Guitar World video (positively rated) and an Ola Englund video review. Both videos showcase the amplifier head’s ability to produce some very scary metal tones. Perfect.

As Paul Riario mentions in the Guitar World video, clean tones are trickier to obtain than distorted tones, but they are achievable. Personally, I liked the way he showed that the clean tones were achieved. Keep the gain down low and there are your clean tones. But as soon as he started to wind that gain up, that head began to scream. It was awesome to watch and hear. Of course hearing the tones Ola Englund achieved with some production EQ made me think this could easily be a home recording amplifier. Win-win!

But what are the amplifier’s full specs? “Get to it!” I hear you say. This is a Randall, not a Ramble!

  • Single channel 5 watt amplifier head
  • 12AX7 tube preamp
  • 6V6 tube poweramp
  • Effect loop
  • Gain, Tone and Master Volume controls
  • Three-way ToneStackShift
  • Speaker emulated output
  • Speaker output (8 ohm minimum)

Phew, a list just in the nick of time. The ToneStackShift is pretty cool. Even though the head has minimal controls, the tonal variety is fairly high thanks to that little three-way switch (for us high gain lovers that is). I can imagine myself plugging a Phaser or Flanger into the front of this and having a blast with the built-in distorted tones. Heaven.

Perhaps the best part for me however is this amplifier head’s cost. Just over $300 here in Australia. Outstanding! I might even be able to afford a matching Randall cabinet by year’s end. Surely all that metal grill on the head and cabinet would have me rocking like never before. Time could tell.

Disclaimer: I’ve not played through this head. I have not experienced the sound or tone of this head other than through video. That doesn’t matter. It looks awesome, it’s obviously played by winners and I want one.

Randall Diavlo RD5H
Randall Diavlo RD5H
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