Once upon a time, I had a complete Rockman guitar setup, and the world was a beautiful place.
My setup consisted of four Rockman Rockmodule units: Sustainor, EQ, Chorus, and Echo. I was amazed at the sounds I could get out of the things. Rockman units definitely had a sound of their own, and you either liked it or you didn’t. But I liked it.
I sold that first set of Rockmodules when I moved to Florida in 1991. The Rockman Sustainor that I now own I bought many years ago from Hames Music of Gaffney, SC. It was sitting in their junk room (a place where they dumped used gear that people had traded in), with a sticker of $199.95. I paid about $125 for it, and I’ve had it ever since.
This unit is busted. It won’t do anything but hum now. I’ve thought about having it repaired, but the Rockmodules go for so cheap on eBay (with the exception of the Echo unit, which usually goes for around $300) that it might be cheaper just to buy another. Given the width or breadth of all the other equipment I have, that isn’t likely to happen.
Still, I liked the Rockmodules. If I ever had the money to spare, I could see myself putting together another Rockmodule rig just for the hell of it. Even if I didn’t use the Sustainor, the Chorus and Echo units are still used today by a lot of professional players. There’s a reason for that. Tom Scholz got it right the first time.
It’s hard to describe the tone of a Rockman Sustainor. It’s solid state and doesn’t try to emulate tube amplifiers, but it’s not digital. It has its own sound and is hard to describe. The word I hear associated most with it is “analog” and I think that would suffice. I would say listen to the newer Boston albums, but they’re so overproduced and dripping reverb that you can’t get a good feel for that actual tone beneath all the production. Maybe you could check out Third Stage for a good idea of what you could expect from Rockman gear.
I think it’s a damn shame that these units are no longer available. New, I mean. Today, Rockman no longer exists. At least not under the auspices of Boston’s Tom Sholz. Now the brandname is owned by the Jim Dunlop company. About the only thing they’ve done with it so far is piss all over the brand. They offer a Rockman acoustic pedal processor, and the Rockman Ace line of practice amps (which are stipped down versions of the earlier X-100 era amps). But no Rockmodules. And no new Rockman products whatsoever.
I wish Dunlop would bring back the Rockman Rockmodule units. Sure, Tom Sholz never managed to get anywhere with them, but I think that had a lot to do with bad timing and bad marketing. There’s certainly a market for them. Just look at how robust the trading of these units still is, on eBay and on private pages. You don’t have to go far to find shrines on the Internet dedicated to the Rockman gear. It’s a shame that younger players have never had the opportunity to experience the raw glory of a Rockman guitar rig.
Don’t write and ask Jim Dunlop about it, though. I did, and they got really mad at me. I guess because I was interested in the Rockman gear and not in the Dunlop gear. (grin)
“Consider that Tom has created Rockman like a painter: you can look at his painting, you may like it or not, but you cannot change what the painter meant when he painted it.”
~ Bob Credo
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Serial Number: SP000338
Condition: Fugged, in need of a re-furb
Amp Type: Solid State
Model: Rockman Sustainor
Manufacturer: Scholz R&D
Seller: Hames Music, Gaffney, SC