Initial Thoughts: DG Custom 30


Zombie Zero, DFZ
Aug 1, 1985
My DG Custom 30 amp arrived yesterday (thanks JD). As you might imagine it was pretty hard staring at it in the corner of my office between 1:30PM and quitting time so I did what any red-blooded PRS freak would do. I went home early.

If you've seen the matching cab then you know it's a ported 2 X 12. There is a lot to be said for testing a new amp in the environment it was intended for with cab that was designed to go with it. Sadly... I didn't buy the matching cab - nor do I have access to a small club. I played it through an open-back, 1 X 12, Bad Cat cabinet (Celestion) in my home office. That certainly impacted the final result but I'm sure my 1 X 12 did a reasonably good job.

With that in mind I'd like to share the following opinions:
  • The DG30 is quite rich/lush sounding with chords at almost any volume.
  • Individual notes don't raise the hair on the back of my neck until I crack it open. Then I hear angels singing. All the bloom that Grissom loves comes with a red-hot set of tubes. You MUST open this amp up if you want the glory. I wasn't thrilled with it until I turned it way up. Then the neighbors weren't thrilled with me.
  • The master volume knob (power attenuator?) works beautifully. The fullness of the tone never suffers as you dial up or down. The only difference is the volume and the overdrive.
  • It is more like a clean canvas than I expected. It does not seem to impart its own signature to the overall tone like a Matchless DC30, Bad Cat TremCat 30 or VOX AC30 will. In fact, it's not really like any of those amps - at any volume. If anything, it's more like my '64 Twin Reverb - ready to adopt the tone you ask it to amplify - but it (The DG30) breaks up/overdrives beautifully; enhancing the experience. The Twin, on the other hand, won't break up unless you're peeling paint from the walls. Even then, it's still pretty clean. I do wish I still had access to a vintage '65 Vibrolux. I'd love to compare the DG30 with one.
  • I don't regard the DG30 as a "gainy" amp at all - even in Boost mode. If you are looking for a new amp for rock riffs like Angus or EVH, stick with the Blistertone, 25th Anniversary, or HX/DA. To be fair, it might rock those tones with the right pedal. If you're looking for shimmering, glassy, chime, stick with the non-PRS EF86/EL84 amps. But if you're a rhythm player with some tasty chops and the ability to add your own color with your guitar, technique, and pedals (like DG himself), this is your amp.
  • Clean or driven, it sounds great with a Paul's Guitar (narrow 408's), a Starla, and (obviously) with a DGT. In fact, I'd say this amp sounds best (to me) with the DGT. That would make sense given the fact that it was designed with, and around, DG. There is something to be said for following the recipe.
  • It impresses me how this amp has a tight, punchy, low-end without getting muddy. Even with an open-back 1 X 12 cab it was punchy and tight. PAF-like hum-bucking pups never had it so good.
  • Nothing about this amp is brittle. This is one of the few amps where I turned the treble and presence up while the bright switch was on.
  • The Xotic EP Boost worked very well with this amp. So did the Fulltone OCD. Both were used in front of the amp (as DG prefers). There is no effects loop.

Bottom Line: The DG30 is ideal for gigging, tone savvy, guitar players with the ability to really crack it open. I don't think the bedroom noodler will enjoy it much unless he/she uses pedals or prefers thick, clean tone. Even then, this amp would be overkill given the cost and size. But, by golly, it sure is beautiful! What a classic look. Anyway... it bears repeating (again), the searing overtones are available and awesome but I had to push the amp to access them. It's clear that Doug Sewell and David Grissom studied some seriously legendary amps when they made this thing. Its built like a brick ****-house and lacks for nothing.
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Really nice in depth and descriptive review. Thanks Hans.

If I was your neighbor, I wouldn't complain unless you turned it down.
Ordered one at experience...very anxious for it to arrive. The cab already's smooth and full.
Great review! Love David Grissom! His tone is so nasty and perfect for what he does, but the amp doesn't sound like it would be for me.

But kudos on the review! Great job!
Thanks for the review, Hans - nice job!

I'm betting that the amp will "play in" and loosen up a bit. And if you have the NOS tubes, they might be less prone to breaking up than newer tubes are. In fact, the subtle differences in tolerance between preamp tubes of the same brand and model can affect the tone of an amp significantly. I can tell that my new HX/DA needs some exercise before it will sound as open as the older one did with a year of break-in under its belt.
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Very insightful review. And being the kind of player you described, completely agree with how the amp is designed to be used. I'm predominantly a rhythm player and thrive on that thick, full spectrum tone to balance out the other guitarist. So adding that ballsy bloom is where it's at - and it took me years to locate the magic combination. Playing like DG isn't my exact thing but sounding similar while doing my thing is. And despite the fanboy-like approach, the DGT + DG amp (the new 30/50 or the Super Dallas I'm my case) is a matched set. You can get to an amazing solution quickly if you can operate these amps in their designed volume range. If not, it's still good, but much of that mojo is lost. Again, I've learned this thru the school of hard knocks.

Hans, do you think this is a long-term keeper for you?
Nah. It's not for me. I'm an EF86/EL84 guy. I'm going to sell it or trade it for a cool PRS.
]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! ©;112725 said:
I can usually tell in the 1st 5 minutes if it's something I'll keep.

I wish I could buy it. I'd love to have a second amp in the studio. But the timing isn't right for me yet.

Dang. Sounds like it'd be right up my alley.
Bummer. I'd love to send it your way.

in other news... I am finally not the forum post-leader any more. Thanks Les! :)
]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! ©;112725 said:
I can usually tell in the 1st 5 minutes if it's something I'll keep.

Same. Sometimes all it takes is a look.

]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! ©;112732 said:
Bummer. I'd love to send it your way.

in other news... I am finally not the forum post-leader any more. Thanks Les! :)

]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! ©;112732 said:
Bummer. I'd love to send it your way.

I just replaced that HXDA, and have stretched the studio budget to the max this year. I hate the timing in my life.

]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! ©;112732 said:
in other news... I am finally not the forum post-leader any more. Thanks Les! :)

Well, how embarrassing is this state of events?