Kurt Cobain’s Randall RG-120 Commander Amp

Kurt was first seen using this amp around July 1989 (search for Nirvana, Hoboken, NJ, July 13, 1989, on Google) – which was just after the release of the 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 the 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 its current whereabouts, be sure to leave a comment).


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3 years ago

You mistakenly put (June 13, 1989) about the Hoboken NJ show. It was July 13, 1989 Nirvana played at Maxwell’s in Hoboken NJ.

And yes Kurt mainly used the Randall Commander II Amp Head with a SoundTech 2×12 Cabinet hooked up to a Marshall 4×12.

Kurt used the Randall Commander II Amp Head during the American Bleach tour (June/July 1989). When Nirvana did their first European Tour in November 1989 Kurt used a Marshall 4×12 Cabinet with a Fender Twin Reverb amp and an Ampeg Amp Head.

Then during January – April 1990 Kurt used Sunn Beta Lead Amp Heads 3 of them in Fact, with some Unknown Speaker Cabinet on its side (as you can see the wheels on the bottom sideways) and another unknown speaker cabinet.

Kurt usually used the SoundTech 2×12 speaker Cabinet and Krist used the BFI Bullfrog, but there was occasions Kurt used the BFI Bullfrog like at the 01/12/90 Satyricon Portland OR show. Etc.

And the picture below of Kurt playing his first Fender Stratocaster a White Made in Japan Fender Stratocaster with a Black Slanted Humbucker in the bridge and a “K” Records sticker on the body, and Kurt playing with the Randall Commander II Amp Head and most likely the SoundTech 2×12 Cabinet at Krist’s house On Halloween 10/31/1990. (Which was 2 days after they finish their Uk tour with L7) 10/23/90 – 10/29/90.

4 years 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.