Kurt Cobain’s Randall RG-120 Commander Amp

Kurt was first seen using this amp around July 1989 (search for Nirvana, Hoboken, NJ, June 13, 1989, on Google) – which was just after the release of Bleach album (June 15, 1989). However, according to Jack Endino, who produced Bleach, the Randall amp was used even prior to that.

When they recorded Bleach, Kurt’s Randall was in the shop so they borrowed my amp, which was a Sixties Fender Twin. […] Kurt brought in a little closed-back 2×12 cabinet with two Celestion [speakers], most likely 70-watt models.

The Definitive Kurt Cobain Gear Guide

From Jack Endino’s statement, one can conclude that Kurt used this amp until June 1989, at which point it was broken. Unfortunately, photos from around early 1989 and late 1988 are scarce, so it’s hard to determine when exactly Kurt started using it.

Be that as it may, it seems that Kurt repaired the amp and used it at least until the end of the North American Bleach tour, or around October 1989. After that, the band went to Europe, and at that point, Kurt seemed to have switched to a Fender Twin Reverb.

The Bullfrog Cabinet

Jack Endino mentions Kurt bringing in a 2×12 cabinet to the Bleach studio sessions. This was probably the same cabinet that Kurt used together with his Randal Commander amp – which, based on photos, seems to be a BFI Bullfrog model cabinet.

The Randall Today

Apparently, this amp is still around to this day. At some point in 1990, it was seen sitting in Krist Novoselic’s house (photo below), and more recently, it was allegedly used by Courtney Love in studio (source needed).

Kurt Cobain playing a Randall Commander amp at Krist’s home. Photo source: Mike’s Archive/YouTube.

There are even more recent photos of it sitting in a glass display case, so it is likely owned by some sort of a museum (if you happen to know about current whereabouts, be sure to leave a comment).

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6 months ago

The Commamder head was first used to record their first Demo with Jack Endino back in early ‘88, some of which ended up on Bleach. It also apparently got used on the Love Buzz/Big Cheese single and Spank Thru for the Sub Pop 200 comp. It got used for live shows until late ‘89, when he briefly started using Sunn Beta Leads while in the States and a borrowed Ampeg Bass stack while on the Winter ‘89 Eurotour with TAD. After that it probably just became a practice amp, until Courtney used it on Celebrity Skin. Since then it’s been seen at the Pop Culture Museum in Seattle.

Contrary to popular belief, it was used to drive a SoundTech 2×12 speaker cabinet, not a BFI Bullfrog. Sometimes an extra seemingly unbranded 4×12 guitar cab was used with the SoundTech as well.


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