What a nice surprise on this year’s Frankfurt Music Fair: Music Man amps are coming back. DV MARK (dvmark.it) displayed reissues of those silver-black Music Man amps that were popular in the seventies and eighties.
Clapton played Music Man amps, Albert Lee played them, and of course Mark Knopfler. He used 130 watts combos on the Communiqué and Making Movies tours. The complete Music Man amp line was discontinued in the early eighties.
DV MARK presented reissues of three popular amp models and one speaker cabinet: the HD 130 Reverb top (the model Eric Clapton played) with a 4 x 12″ cabinet, the 112 RD 50 (a very popular small combo with an additional tube for the overdrive), and of course the “Mark Knopfler model” 212 HD 130.
Here are some first impressions on the 212 HD 130 combo: The reissue looks similar but not identical to the original. They all have of course the black tolex cover and the silver front grill, also the familiar Music Man logo on the front. The logo is the inverted “silver on black” version of the late Music Man amps (after 1980) instead of the original “black on silver” logo on Mark’s amps. It is also a bit smaller.
All controls were identical but some of the cosmetics were a bit different, e.g. the shape of the bright switches. Unfortunately the reissue is not the version with the tube driver (all Music Man amps had a solid-state pre amp and a tube power amp section, but the amps before 1978 had a tube in the driver stage that sits between pre and power amp). I am not sure if Mark had the version with the tube or not – the change was in 1978, about the time when Mark got his first Music Man amp so both is possible but generally the ones with the tube are regarded as better sounding.
The amp features two speakers with round ceramic magnets. The original amp line came with square alnico magnets up to 1978, when they first got speakers with square ceramic magnets and about 1980 with round ceramic magnets. I know that Mark had square speakers but not for sure if these were the ceramic or the alnico ones. I personally would have prefered to see the alnico speakers in a reissue.
Another difference became obvious when I wanted to play the amp. Just like the original it has a power switch on the front (with a high and low swtting for reduced output power), but when I reached for the back of the amp to switch on the standby switch I had to find out that there was no switch. I cannot tell if the amp I played was a prototype with non final specs, at least it had no standby switch at all. Judging on the sound is difficult as a music fair is not the ideal situation to check out an amp with all its tonal capabilities. At least it did not seem to sound completely different.
I learned that these amps are produced in Italy by DV Mark licenced by Ernie Ball who also still produce the Music Man basses and hold the right for the Music man label. The amps should be available in September 2014, I have no info yet on the price.
I am also interested in these amps ’cause I tested one of the original ones and it sounds very good especially the clean channel. Did you test them, at least one of them? If the price is around 700-900 euro could be interesting. One of the cool nnew features is the speaker magnet which should be very light and good sounding as well.
If the price is higher than 800/900 euro i think that a real fender deluxe reverb or vibrolux is better and you can find them used for the same price..
Thanks for everything
This is exciting, assuming the price isn’t absurd. I purchased a used RD 50 3 or 4 years ago. It sounded great, but the clean channel was entirely too loud and didn’t have the adjustable power output later models had. Since it was super heavy and (even at 50 watts) too loud to use, I sold it. If these new models aren’t too expensive, I’d definitely like to pick up one of them. I’d like to see the “Clapton Mod” of an effects looks as well. But, I’m sure they’ll be 100% reissues and won’t have any modern updates. Perhaps a “modern” line would be the next step. I don’t see any reason why the amps have to be purely vintage.
The reissues use a neodimio magnet which is much much lighter than the ceramic or alnico magnet
I am currently bidding on two MM 1-12 RD50 on Ebay. I can not wait to see the new ones. Very underrated amplifier. Tough as nails. Only undesirable feature is on the ‘transistor’ drive channel. The drive/distortion is the worst and unusable. That being said, a nice outboard driver and you have a perfect amp. I toured with a MM RD100 in the 80’s. Playing the Uptown in KC, MO, my little RD100 had plenty of volume, with plenty left over! It was banged around and bounced from town to town without a single problem.
I use to play bass through a Music Man sixty-five piggy back back in the 80’s…… i am interested in a new MM amp to go with my Sting Ray bass… are they going to be tough enough to handle Bass guitar demands???
well i musthave the odd ball music man hd 130 reverb, i have owned this head and 2×12 cab for the past 20 years, i have opened it up and done a few repairs and tune ups to keep it running. like the first years of them with the phase inverter tube mine has the same black on silver logos, and the tube chart states 6ca7 tubes. on further inspection my amp had the transistor driver board, and appears to be factory wired to run both the 6ca7 and the 6L6 tubes, i like the 6l6 tone better myself as it adds a lil more deeper/darker tone to this amp then the el34 tubes, i have gone as far as even mix the tubes and set the bias wile doing repairs to the amp using 2 6l6 tubes and 2 el34 tubes, had 1 6l6 and 1 el34 per side so as to kinda balance better, reason being why i did this,,,,, i didnt have a set of 4 of either type of tubes, just mached pairs, i just replace the transistor drivers and ic 8 and just wanted to see if this fixed my amps problem. knowing that i have checked the pin outs on both tubes and the actual wiring in my amp i decided to load both sets in and power it up. power on, no smoke, standby off still no smoke or pops and such, volume up and no buzz or noise, hit the strings and well holy crap, it lives and singing ever so sweetly to my ears. turned up the reverb and it last for days and it was good, warm, and ever so sweet. checked the tremolo and had nothing, well hmmm. it untill the driver transistors started to fail, now its off to the search to find a perfect replacement for those 2n4091 and 2n3391. other then the trem not working at the moment it sounds great up to 3/4 volume then tone starts to degrade, partially i know the 2 gt75 celestion speakers just cant handle all that power lol,,,,, owned this for 20 years and played on it for 25. allways returned back to this amp and drive my distortion pedal to it as i havent found another amp yet to compeat in clarity at low and high levels and give me the range of tones in one single unit.
First of all, thank you so much for all the time and work you have put into your posts and website. You are so very generous for sharing your time and energy with us all.
I have a new, reissue MM 212HD 130. After a year and a half, I am still learning to “master” it. I think I have finally found some tone settings that I really like. I feel the reissue, with its solid-state features is operationally quieter than an all tube amp. I like this fact. It does not have the “scooped mids” of a Fender Twin, but by cutting back the midrange knob this can be achieved but from my experience the boosted mids help the guitar cut through the mix better.
It is also a great amp for pedals as I’ve read again and again. If you want to know the true nature of any effect pedal, this is the amp to check it out. I bought it for the loud, clean capabilities and it certainly lives up to that.
Thanks again for all your work and thanks to your readers for posting comments. This really helps me learn. You’re all great teachers!