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Thread: PRS Amp School - The Search for Tube Tone Knowledge

  1. #1
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    PRS Amp School - The Search for Tube Tone Knowledge

    I want to build a Grissom style rig, but want to learn more about PRS amps, both old and new, before simply buying a DG Sig amp. I have searched for some type of lexicon on the topic, but came up empty handed. Does anyone know of such a list? If one doesn't exist does anyone want to help me build one?
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  2. #2
    I can add what I've learned about the HXDA and the DG30 (not that I'd call myself an expert, however). How would you like to go about it?

    One thing I'd add is that if you want a Grissom-style rig, the DG30 is Grissom in a box. Seriously.

    Well, except for the part about how well he plays.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 03-12-2014 at 10:02 AM.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

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  3. #3
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    Thanks Les.

    I recently played a Super Dallas that had a small board in front of it. I set the amp clean and got all of my dirt from pedals. I was really inspired by the tones. It was a big change for me rig wise or at least it felt like it.

    I guess I am just trying to put it all together and thought a list might help me connect the dots. For example, wasn't Grissom playing a Super Dallas for his DG30/50. If this is the case are his sig amps extensions of those or entirely different animals? What about the amps I see labeled Original Sewell? What are those and where do they fit in the product line?

    For someone that refuses to even tweak an amp this is overkill for my needs. I just thought it might be fun...somehow...haha.
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  4. #4
    Prince of Paisley iahawk36's Avatar
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    Hey Jesse - the Original Sewell was one of the original three amps that were released by PRS (along with the original Dallas and the Blue Sierra). The OS is a very Marshall-ish amp....with TONS of gain on tap. I don't think DG ever played one regularly, but he DID gig the Super Dallas for quite a while before he worked on the DG model. For the DG sound, you'd want to look at a Super Dallas or his sig amp.

    Hope that helps, bro-hammer!
    "He's kind of like a bear at a campsite...you think he's cute and kind of want to hug him, but in the end you know he's dangerous and is going to stomp on your tent and eat all your food..." - martysnarf

  5. #5
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    I want to build a Grissom style rig
    Maybe you should start with a PRS guitar.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    If this is the case are his sig amps extensions of those or entirely different animals?
    I think the Super Dallas sounds a lot like the 25th Anniversary amp, and its progeny, the HX/DA. Makes sense, since it has the same power tubes, same wattage, and Cinemag transformer. Obviously, there are differences, but they sound like they're in the same family, based loosely on the warm, vintage tones of a great Plexi Marshall. These amps break up early, have a beautiful sag and compression, and are very forgiving to play through. The leading edges of a plucked note are more searing than the DG30.

    The DG30 has a very different sonic palette. While it isn't exactly like any particular amp model, its heritage is very American, and I honestly hear some Fender Brownface, and some old 50s Gibson amps. It isn't very compressed, there's quite a lot of clean headroom, and there's very powerful dynamic range, where plucked notes seem to pop out of the speakers with a lot of energy in a different way than the others I mentioned.

    The DG30 uses the EL84M military tube. It's more robust physically than the EL84, the glass is thicker, the tube itself is a bit larger, and the tube can take lots more energy before it breaks up. So if you're thinking, "Oh, EL84, crushed glass, lots of crunch, soft breakup to clipping," you're in for a shock, because the EL84M isn't that kind of beast.

    Quote Originally Posted by jfb View Post
    For someone that refuses to even tweak an amp this is overkill for my needs. I just thought it might be fun...somehow...haha.
    I don't grok the refusal to turn knobs on an amp! Here's why:

    Let's assume that you can eventually get an amp set to get the sounds you like.

    But no amp sounds the same with every guitar, or in every room. In fact, amps don't even sound the same in every spot in a room! So it needs some tweaking for those two reasons alone. Second, amps don't sound the same new out of the box as they do after being played in for a few weeks, and they sound different after a few months, too. So even if you could just dial in one tone and leave it, the controls need to be adjusted to cope with the amp breaking in. And if you're running new speakers, they break in, too, and their tone changes (generally, it becomes less strident and ice-picky as the speaker breaks in, and you might be adding treble or presence to adjust for this as it mellows).

    If you use pedals, the controls on the pedal and the controls on the amp need to be balanced out against one another.

    You might think I'm being picky, but this is stuff most good players take for granted and just do as a matter of course.

    Re: PRS amps.

    These amps do an awful lot on their own and in combination with the guitar's knobs. I don't know how you feel about guitar controls, but the CAD amps are definitely designed for the player who understands how to use the guitar controls to adjust gain and tone.

    The DG amp rewards this; it's really designed to help a player like Grissom, who definitely uses his guitar controls a LOT, get a variety of expressiveness and tones. On the other hand, the DG amp isn't as simple to get a tone out of as the 50 watt Plexi style amps. You definitely have to work it a little more. For example, it's a completely different amp with volume (gain) and Master set above 5. It's a different amp with the bright switch on, and it also responds differently with the boost switch on.

    Each of these different settings asks the player for more adjustments, but rewards the player who has the ear for using it to its potential.

    My best advice is this: Grissom is a tweaker, a guy whose pedalboard changes from time to time with different interesting pedals, etc. If you have a Grissom-like rig in mind, you have to be willing to do what he does to get his sounds, namely, to turn lots of knobs, often.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 03-12-2014 at 04:14 PM.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

  7. #7
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    Good stuff as usual. Thanks all.
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    SuperD Boogie's Avatar
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    Did you lock yourself in the room with my rig? You're starting to see what I see (ignore the purple giraffe). And with absolute love and respect for those playing the DG sig amps, I hear the most DG character(the part that my messed up ears can hear) in the DG 50 and the Super Dallas. The Anni/HXDA are there too for his lead tones, but for rhythm, the SuperD has this rumbling girth - thru the right cabs - that has been very elusive to me in the past. Granted, when recording or playing live (beyond 15' from the stage), much of that bass is lost, but it makes the speakers growl and do something that I couldn't do elsewhere. Not sure I could accurately describe it. It's fuggin' HUGE.

    Jesse, you got to hear how I've recently changed my approach to the amp: very clean, letting the pedals be the dirt. Going the Grissom route with the amp delivering solid breakup, made it too mushy with the rest of my gear. Plus, I can't play as loud as DG, generally, and I still wanted to let the power stage breathe. So it's now cranked to 3:00 on master with volume at 9:00. Cleans are insanely beautiful. Crunch, with either the EP Boost or Klone, or both, is my new love affair. Punch it with the Kalamazoo for leads. By jockeying these pedals and the DGT's volume/tone, I have my favorite tone palate to date. This is all for a classic rock application.

    Knowing your music taste, my setup doesn't have enough gain for you, or rather, the wrong gain. With the higher gain pedals the rig completely changes personality. The Satchurator is really nice for instant genre hopping, but I've considered a Bogner Red.

    You should try every amp you can lay hands on. Everyone has a grail tone locked inside, you just have to discover it. Then you have to decide if it's your grail tone. All of us approach the issue a little differently, but we're all after the same thing.
    + '01 Custom 24 + '11 DGT Standard (Mr. Clean) + '09 SE One + Super Dallas + Stealth 2x12+

  9. #9
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boogie View Post
    Did you lock yourself in the room with my rig?
    I did. And I stayed there a while. Even went back a few times over the course of the weekend. I think it was really the first time I had spent any time on a rig like that. While I have had the desire to build a similar rig for sometime spending time on yours certainly sealed the deal. I am excited to research a few amps and pedals to make this happen.

    I will keep you in the loop.

    Could you point me to where you got that Klon Clone pedal kit?

    Thanks brother!
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogie View Post
    And with absolute love and respect for those playing the DG sig amps, I hear the most DG character(the part that my messed up ears can hear) in the DG 50 and the Super Dallas. The Anni/HXDA are there too for his lead tones, but for rhythm, the SuperD has this rumbling girth - thru the right cabs - that has been very elusive to me in the past.
    Boogie, as a DG30 owner I'd have to agree that when I listen to the Grissom record, I'm hearing more of the 50 watt Plexi style amp than the DG30, though I've seen some videos where Grissom is clearly doing the DG30 tone live. And you're right, so much of this is about the cabs.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the DG30 is about his live work with his group, and probably session work. Because his own recording made last year has more grind. Perhaps he got a lot of that with a pedal, and perhaps there's layering, too. So just a guess on my part.

    Quote Originally Posted by Boogie View Post
    You should try every amp you can lay hands on. Everyone has a grail tone locked inside, you just have to discover it. Then you have to decide if it's your grail tone. All of us approach the issue a little differently, but we're all after the same thing.
    Totally agree.

    And as an aside, I hope my post didn't sound preachy. Though I know I'm preachin' to the choir.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

    Website: http://www.elfxi.com

  11. #11
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    The DG30/50 and Super Dallas are definitely on my list to try out immediately.
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  12. #12
    SuperD Boogie's Avatar
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    I totally agree with everything you said, Les. My personal interpretation of DG's tone - or the part that I've pursued - is more about a small piece of what defines his sound, not the whole thing. He found a way to coax my part out better than anyone else that I've found, so I started my newest search where he left off. That character is found in the 50w amps. That doesn't mean that his latest work isn't best found in the newest DG amps, because it probably is. My taste is found in the bigger amp designs, or maybe that's my wallet's defense mechanism keeping me from wanting to look at the DG30.

    Honestly, I'm so happy with where I am that's it's a hell of an affirmation to have someone like Jesse pay such a compliment. He can have pretty much anything he wants and it's gratifying that he might find it in the same gear that I've chosen. Even more of a head scratcher - we play totally different music. But it all goes to prove that those knobs can twist in different directions and combinations to make something completely unique. And it also goes to prove that a really good amp can be the foundation for almost anyone's sound. To quote Greg Koch, "Doug Sewell...is some kind of wizard..." and "the Super Dallas...the Polyp Rumbler 5000." I'm the one preaching here. Anyone want some Koolaid?
    + '01 Custom 24 + '11 DGT Standard (Mr. Clean) + '09 SE One + Super Dallas + Stealth 2x12+

  13. #13
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    Boogie your rig was wicked. Running that amp clean with the Klon clone...all knobs at noon of course...was a great base. I wasn't even kicking on the Kalamazoo much because I was so interested in what I was already hearing. I mucked about with Pete some while playing that rig. I'm certain he would agree it was epic. And yeah I'm a metal head but I rarely play with much gain unless I'm riff writing. If I can stay away from the new Fractal Audio unit I'm so buying a new amp. I love...Love...no I really LOVE my Shiva 20th...but I run no pedals in front of it and Strymon stuff in it's loop. It's great at lower gain and rolling your volume knob back which I do very often. It's just that a pedal board in front of your clean amp is different and I want to investigate further...I have for some time, but jamming your rig was evidence I must. You're my new tone enabler. I thank you. All hail Boogie!!
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  14. #14
    Senior Member themike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post
    Maybe you should start with a PRS guitar.
    hahahhahahahahhahahahahahahahah!
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  15. #15
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by themike View Post
    hahahhahahahahhahahahahahahahah!
    I just checked Brian's. I still have one.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member geese_com's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by themike View Post
    hahahhahahahahhahahahahahahahah!
    :

  17. #17
    I love my HXDA. It's probably the definition of the tone I sought after for a very long time. But the more I experiment with the DG30, the more I enjoy getting different kinds of tones from it. I love working with textures, and the DG gives me some really nice options for that.

    It's great to have such killer choices, isn't it?
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

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  18. #18
    A♥ hoards guitars A♥ rugerpc's Avatar
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    How did I miss this thread?

    And where's that Colbert/popcorn gif when I need it?
    Thbbbbbt...
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  19. #19
    SuperD Boogie's Avatar
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    jFB, that pedal dropped my jaw, too. As cliché as it sounds, it really is a game changer. Plus, being a routine non-conformist, this development is out of character. When you're ready, hit me up and I'll share the details and maybe consider building one more. There's already a line forming. WTH is up with that??!!

    Les, that is precisely my point. These amps are inspiration tools and they deliver.
    + '01 Custom 24 + '11 DGT Standard (Mr. Clean) + '09 SE One + Super Dallas + Stealth 2x12+

  20. #20
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boogie View Post
    jFB, that pedal dropped my jaw, too. As cliché as it sounds, it really is a game changer. Plus, being a routine non-conformist, this development is out of character. When you're ready, hit me up and I'll share the details and maybe consider building one more. There's already a line forming. WTH is up with that??!!
    You are too kind. I think I could build one. Might be fun. Can you toss me the link the one you used? I'll text you. <3

    So I might work on a list of PRS amps solo.

    And "Grissom style rig" to me just means guitar>cord>pedal board>amp>cab (amp>cab could be a combo). I don't mean it as anything brand/player related at all. I'm not after a <insert player name> tone. I just thing this style of rig is worth investigating, especially as one who has always ran effects in the loop though wonder what that rig would sound like next to mine. I feel I can find my tone in most anything I can operate without a manual. Speaking of manual I'd liken Boogie's rig to driving a manual transmission and mine to driving an automatic. His was a bit more fun to while shifting through the gears.
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