Sonzera 20 vs Custom 20

Discussion in 'Amplifiers' started by prs19, Aug 10, 2018.

  1. prs19

    prs19 New Member

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    May not be a fair comparison but I’d be curious to hear anyone’s take on the comparison between these two amps. Which clean do you prefer? Which gain do you prefer? Which covers more range? Which takes pedals better? Which has better low volume sound? Which one has a better cranked sound? Things like that. Less interested in the specification differences and more interested in the sound and feel comparison between them.

    Thanks!
     
  2. HANGAR18

    HANGAR18 What Would Evel Knievel Do?

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    If I were to guess, purely from a clinical perspective, I would reason that since the Sonzera represents the latest and greatest advancement in PRS amplification ( ie a non-signature model intended for all playing styles), that it should out-perform the Custom 20 which was invented quite a while ago. Not saying anything bad about the Custom 20, but head to head, I would reason the Sonzera would be a "better" choice than the Custom 20.
     
  3. Leif Robertson

    Leif Robertson New Member

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    Im playing my Sonzera 20 right now. Love it. It blows the custom away IMHO.
    I just think make sure that you don't have any snap crackle pops I get the first 5 minutes till the tubes warm up. I think I need to replace the tubes. Still sounds pretty sweet and makes me want to try the Grissom and the others.
     
  4. prs19

    prs19 New Member

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    Good info gents! Thanks.

    I need to try a Sonzera 20. I agree that it probably has all of the best knowns that PRS can pack into that little powerhouse.
     
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  5. Leif Robertson

    Leif Robertson New Member

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    I really don't think anyone could say this isn't a great amp for the money or even if it was priced higher. Its priced well but it sounds like vintage Fenderish clean (please correct me if you disagree but I use it with my twin reverb as part of my main rig) and drive is great too. If your looking for something like metal type gain, Id say this isn't your amp and look at the Tremonti or something but yeah this takes pedals perfectly as well. I Love the clean and I like the drive low and at 12 o'clock. Above 12 is ridiculous and muddy. I often use the gain as a light clean crunch at around 2 turn down the volume and its like Im on channel 1 and then raise the volume on my guitar to bring in some dirt. I like it. On 12 she's got a unique drive tone with plenty of gain. I don't see going much above 12 pm or your gonna get muddy.

    I swear if you bought the 20 and you didn't have any bad tubes on arrival, I swear if your not total metal (herd rock no problemo its got a great unique gain) its like an amp for anyone. If you can honestly say its not a great amp...Ill give you 20 bucks via paypal. I don't think anyone can say its not an all around great little amp. I just joined because I had an issue but love this amp.

    Im also looking forward to trying out the grissom even though its a signature amp. Im at odds with signature amps... I don't like amps that are geared towards a specific player but Im hearing great things about it.
     
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  6. mad monk

    mad monk New Member

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    Man, I guess I need to find and try a Sonzera. I have a Custom 20 head, and I love it. It/we had some issues at first, but once corrected it quickly became my favorite.
     
  7. DreamTheaterRules

    DreamTheaterRules Former Lyricist for Calhoun Tubbs

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    Since I have an Archon, it’s good news to me that both of these are getting good reviews. I really loved my Custom 50 but it had to be a little too loud for me, before it came into it’s own.
     
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  8. BolinTrucks

    BolinTrucks New Member

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    I've never played the Custom. I do, however love my Sonzera 20. Like everybody, I love the clean channel, but the secret weapon is the Drive channel. With single coils, keep the gain down under 11:00 and use volume to the room. WOW!
     
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  9. DreamTheaterRules

    DreamTheaterRules Former Lyricist for Calhoun Tubbs

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    What are these "single coils" you speak of? :confused:
     
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  10. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    It’s good to have choices.
     
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  11. Leif Robertson

    Leif Robertson New Member

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    I couldn't have said it better. I totally agree. I said 12 but yeah its actually the same channel just with gain. I even go as low as 2 or 3 on the gain and if I want more Ill use a pedal but yeah I use the gain channel just as much if not more with just a tad of drive and lower my volume to get clean and real the gain in. Like a lot of good amps!!!
     
  12. BolinTrucks

    BolinTrucks New Member

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    I’ve found that I can set the clean channel up to work with my Paul in the same way the Tele works on the Drive channel. Of course my mates think that might be mostly in my head!
     
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  13. BWV548

    BWV548 New Member

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    My 2/10ths of a cent on the sonzera 20.

    1) on the clean channel, to my ears, the guitars that sound good through it sound great. Not all of my guitars work through it. Notably my HBII and my 408. Can’t get happy with the sounds; even with a good eq pedal. As hollowbodys go, my Eastman 372 sounds great through it. As does the silver sky. Those two seem built for each other.
    2) the reverb sounds great, but it’s pretty subtle. That works well for me. However, if you want to go underwater you’ll need additional reverb
    3) i don’t use the drive channel all that much, but for as a boosted clean, it works great, even with the two guitars that don’t work, for me, in the clean channel
    4) channels makes a loud pop. I discussed this with PRS support, and sent them recordings. They indicated that the pop was normal. At the end of the day it doesn’t impact me. However, if you’re switching channels mid tune in a performance, I can see it being very problematic. Something to keep in mind.
    All said, I think the amp is an awesome value for money! But it does have its issues
     
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  14. DreamTheaterRules

    DreamTheaterRules Former Lyricist for Calhoun Tubbs

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    I'm really interested in the character of the drive channel gain, but it doesn't seem many here are using it as such. Even the guy I know who has one, plays a Tele through it, with the gain lower, and uses a comp for solos, so nothing that would apply to how I might us it.
     
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  15. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

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    I’ve only tried the Sonzera amps in the shop - I would really like to take one for a spin somewhere that I could crank it up with a band. I don’t think the lead channel opens up until there’s some serious sound coming out. I have a Custom (50), but can’t really give a fair comparison of which I like better, based on what I’ve been able to do with a Sonzera. Of course, that wouldn’t really matter anyways, what I like isn’t what the next guy likes, YMMV, and all those necessary disclaimers.

    I hear a hint of a cranked tweed amp in the Sonzera lead, and the Custom I can’t really pin on any well known amp - it’s not as lean and midrange-y as a Marshall, not as saturated and precise as popular Mesa amps, it’s just very “full” sounding.

    What I can say with fair confidence, both have excellent clean sounds, and the lead channels have a more vintage “openness” and transparency to the gain structure. They sound like they have a lot of breakup, and technically, yes, they do, but looking at the preamps, both amps have relatively few gain ‭stages, and it’s apparent in the tone but even more so in the feel. There’s not a tight, percussive feel or the saturation and compression that has pinch harmonics waiting to jump out the way there is with a cascading gain stage, high gain amp. What I’ve found with my Custom amp, is that transparency - much more responsive to playing style, nuances of certain guitars and boost pedals. Which is cool, I like to boost my Custom with Tumnus, and it sounds stunning, but there’s a huge number of possible tones depending on what’s going into the amp.
     
  16. Leif Robertson

    Leif Robertson New Member

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    Mine pops for 4 minutes till the tubes warm up..Then it goes aways completely.

    I just plugged in my Les Paul into it tonight for the first time. The drive channel and clean to me sound better with single coil like starts but it sounds great with a PRS Custom as well....The clean sounds good on pretty much everything. Just my option. I mean it was unique and sounds good with my PRS custom and all my strats. I think I might have to get back to you on my lop though. It just sounds really different for some reason. Not bad..In fact some people may like it better but to me it seems to have more slick tonal values you can hook in with your playing on a strat or tele. That being said the drive sounds good at 12pm on an LP but its just very different. I have t get used to it. Of course I don't play LPs too often but I recently picked up a nice gold top. That being said everything sounds good in its own way particularly in my rig as the sonzera is mixed with a twin reverb in my set up. Maybe I need to play with it more with s Gibson before I make my final assessment but DAMN i love it on my suhrs, my 79 modded, and my fullerton and yeah the PRS custom sounds good on the drive channel.

    The clean with no drive sounds great on anything. Im referring to the sonzera 20 and actually the lp sounds great on the clean with drive pedals so Im being a little harsh. I love this amp. Id say its definitely a vintage style amp and excellent with any BF amps. Just incredible tone. I can't see anyone not liking it.

    Maybe forget what I said about the LP through it. I only did it for 5 minutes. I probably need to dial back a bit on my volume.
     
    #16 Leif Robertson, Aug 24, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
  17. Leif Robertson

    Leif Robertson New Member

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    Hey listen. The drive channel is EXACTLy the same as the clean channel with a gain knob. I use the drive channel with the gain super low like 1 or 2.. Lower my volume and its clean raise my volume on my guitar till it has just enough dirt. If I was playing without pedals. Id just use the drive channel that way. They are actually identical. Now if you want a lot of gain...I guess don't go crank it. At some point it gets muddy. It sounds great straight up with everything at 12 though if you want that type of hard rock gain. But I use pedals with it low and use the guitar volume..lower it and with ands raise it and it draws in a little but go dirt responsively. Depends on what your trying to achieve. Hope that helps!!! Can definitely do hard rock on a strat too. lol. Not a metal amp at all. Its def. A vintage class amp that can do vintage clean, vintage clean with a little gain like i said and takes OD pedals great.

    Not sure what else I can explain but if you have questions let me know! Love the amp. Great portable amp too and has extension cab outs and sounds nice with different cabs too.Together or separate.
     
  18. Artjr

    Artjr My wife's a Lawyer

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    Just got a Sonera 20 last week, cleans are great and take pedals really good. The drive channel is worthless to me. Has any one played with preamp tube or speaker to try and tighten up the drive channel?
     
    #18 Artjr, Sep 19, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018
  19. Alan Manning

    Alan Manning Well Love a Duck Mary Poppins.!!!

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    I had one of the first in the UK and having heard about the popping I can say there's none on mine??.
    As stated by the majority I tend to get most of what I need from the clean channel and use pedals to taste.
    Takes pedals extremely well and switch to gain channel when I want to upset the local community.
    This is a loud 20 watt Amp BTW.!!!
     
  20. Leif Robertson

    Leif Robertson New Member

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    Its really a 6l6 kinda vintage tone amp in a small enclosure. The second channel is the best channel because its the same as the first with gain options. Use your guitar volume...

    Think of it this way. Hook it up to maybe a start or single coil first to get the idea and turn the guitar volume half way down and up to find the sweet spot of gain. Turn up the actual amp volume and add "some" drive but not too much. then bring more drive in with you guitar volume or less to almost clean with your guitar volume and she sings and grooves more like a small vintage amp would. If you want more saturation...and higher modern gain well its in a small enclosure so its not that kinda amp without pedals or "an extension cab". You have to play it loud and you need either an extention cab with a larger enclosure with the amp speaker unplugged on the amp because the single amp speaker will be louder because its a single 1x12..Or consider using it with slight gain as a slight dirt channel by itself and use a OD pedal to add more of the gain you want to push it too. Its not really a high gain amp without an ext. cab...really its more of a vintage gain as long as the gain is not cranked but use your guitar volume to control the amount of gain like a vintage amp on the second channel. Its too small of an enclosure to get a super high gain without it sounding muddy. But it is so very versatile amp and I love both channels because they are the same!!!!. Both channels are pristine..and again the exact same!!!!! Just a muddy drive if its cranked by itself (without a OD push, or playing loud with an ext,. cab and the amp speaker unplugged!!!!!). Think of it as a vintage type gain without an extension cab. Otherwise use a closed back cab with the amp speaker unplugged and you'll get more modern had rock growl..A Heavy metal amp it is not. I like the factor however that its in a small enclosure but I can see how the drive channel would get muddy for people without a second cab and desire high gain..I personally only use the song channel and use it as my clean and dirty channel...Like a one channel amp...

    Try messing with your guitar volume to bring in the amount of excessive gain till you have your tone. I use the gain channel as my clean and hendrixy type of gain by itself without a cab. In other words I use the gain channel mostly for both my clean and slightly overdriven...If I want to open her up..Use a cab. Because its in a small enclosure, its best by itself as a clean and nice slight gain amp without OD pedal. Very Hendrix type of gain. I keep my gain on 8pm and turn down the guitar volume up and down to go from a clean or the level of drive I want just from the drive channel I can go from pristine clean to drive using my guitar volume like you would a vintage amp.

    Im just trying to tell you the second channel is not unusable "its the same channel" with gain features so its actually better if used right. I think Im repeating myself because Im tired but I only use the gain channel for both clean and a slight vintage drive. Also sounds good with a single coil strat...shhh...lol. I got little wing on it and it sounded dead on. Not that I play covers. I really don't.

    Im sorry Im really tired from playing for 8 hours all night but Ill look at what I wrote later to make sure this makes sense. lol. I think Im repeating myself LMAO..

    Just look as the second channel as the superior channel for clean or dirt and try what Im suggesting. I think I know what your talking about. Its gonna get muddy on a super high gain setting because its in a small enclosure! Use the above (if I'm making sense) to fix this. Im tired.
     
    #20 Leif Robertson, Sep 19, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018
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