LEFT: The 112RD-50 combo from Music Man is one of a number of amplifiers the company manufactured
until ceasing amp production in 1983. RIGHT: This 2-channel 112RD-50 houses a 12" speaker, a
7025 preamp tube, and a pair of 6L6 power tubes.
I have an old Music Man amp and
I’ve always wondered about the connection
between Music Man and
Fender amps. They look similar and I
heard that they are really Leo Fender
amplifiers. Can you give me a little
history about this amp and tell me
what it’s worth today?
Carl in Phoenix, Arizona
There are many ties between Fender and
Music Man, but the story isn’t as clear-cut
as Leo Fender simply building Music Man
amps. Let’s briefly touch on the history of
As we all know, Leo Fender sold Fender
to CBS in 1965. As part of the deal, there
was a clause that he would not be involved
in the music industry for 10 years (though
he did consult with Fender for a few years
after the sale). In 1972, ex-Fender vice
president Forrest White and ex-Fender sales
representative Tom Walker formed a new
guitar and amplifier company. Leo Fender
served as a silent partner, which complied
with his non-compete clause. The company
was initially called Tri-Sonics, Inc., changed
to Musitek, Inc. in 1973, and then finally
settled on Music Man in 1974.
Leo had another business called CLF
(Clarence Leo Fender) Research that produced
guitars and basses for Music Man.
And just a few miles down the road, Tom
Walker and his crew built the amplifiers at
the Music Man factory. These were essentially
two different entities—Leo really
didn’t have anything to do with amp production
or design. Music Man thrived during
the mid- to late-1970s by building some
of the most innovative amplifiers of the day.
These hybrid combos and heads employed
both tube and solid-state components.
Unfortunately, the good times were short-lived
for Music Man. Quality control problems
with the guitars and basses produced by
CLF cost Music Man dearly. Communication
and relationships also became strained
between the three founders of Music Man
(it was no secret that Forrest White and Tom
Walker did not see eye-to-eye). White was
essentially ousted from management, and
Walker couldn’t get CLF Research to improve
the quality of their guitars.
In 1981, Leo Fender and George
Fullerton founded G&L Guitars, which
were also produced by CLF Research. Leo
was essentially building the same guitars for
competing companies! Priority was naturally
given to G&L guitars, and the downward
spiral of Music Man had begun.
At the time, Music Man produced a
variety of amps, with their 50-watt series
being the smallest, growing to 75, 100,
130, and 150 watts as the largest. Their
offerings included combos, heads, speaker
cabinets, and a line of bass amplifiers. After
ceasing amp production at the end of 1983,
Ernie Ball (a good friend of Tom Walker)
bought Music Man in the spring of 1984.
And though they have been producing guitars
ever since, Music Man amplifiers have
been mothballed up to this point.
As stated before, Music Man amps used
a hybrid chassis, producing one of the
first amps to incorporate both technologies.
The preamps either combined one
preamp tube (usually a 7025) with solid-state
components, or were entirely solid-state.
The power-amp section sported
either 6L6s or the seldom-used 6CA7.
Because the company designed their amps
to operate tubes at a lower temperature to
prolong life, that may explain the use of
Based on their features, Music Man
amps were very practically named. The
model name provided the size and number
of speakers, the type of chassis/features,
and the power output—all fitting on the
speaker grille! The 112RD-50 model name
of your amp indicates that it has a single
12" speaker, a reverb/distortion chassis,
and 50 watts of output power. It features
the hybrid-tube chassis with a single 7025
preamp tube and two 6L6 power tubes,
two channels (each with independent volume,
tone, and bass controls), and gain
and reverb controls on channel 2. Channel
1 also has a bright switch, while channel
2 boasts a limiter switch. Today, your
112RD-50 is worth between $550 and
$650 in excellent condition.
Music Man amps were highly regarded
when they were released and they continue
to be a popular, yet cost-effective choice for
vintage guitar amplifiers.
Zachary R. Fjestad
is author of Blue Book of
, Blue Book
of Electric Guitars
, and Blue
Book of Guitar Amplifiers
For more information, visit
Zach at firstname.lastname@example.org