Sunn Tube Amp. Which one.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by altamont, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. Hey there guys,
    I've been toying with the idea of upgrading my current solid state amp head (Yorkville BM400H combined with a Sansamp RPM) for a vintage tube head. I really dig the Sunn amps. I saw a couple of bands playing those and it all sounded great. I think it would be a great fit for the style of music I'm playing with my current band. We got a post-punk/garage/emo-ish/90's grunge kind of thing going on.

    On my local listings, there are 2 Sunn amp head that has got my attention. There's the Sonaro and the 100s. The Sonaro is only a 80 watts head. I'm wondering if will be enough to cut through everything. We're only a 3 piece band but my drummer plays real loud and my guitarist plays an old Orange OR120 that can pretty much keep us way behind him. It's loud as f**k. I play through an old Ampeg 810EN.

    The second one is the Sunn 100s. I assume it's a 100 watts head. It's more expensive, but I guess it should be more powerfull than the Sonaro. Is it worth the extra dough?

    I know that tube amps tend to be a lot more powerfull when you compare wattage. But when I'm comparing a 400w SS head and an 80w tube head, I don't know where the reaching point is. My tube amp knowledge is pretty limited for now, since I've only owned SS heads. Please bare with me.

    Any help or input would be appreciated.
  2. CL400Peavey

    CL400Peavey Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2011
    Grand Rapids Michigan
    IF either of those amps will be loud enough, they will be very dirty. Personally with a loud guitarist and drummer they would not be gigable for me. I would be looking at ~200 watts minimum in a tube amp.
  3. The dirtiness isn't what is going to be bothering me. I play my BM400H as a poweramp and get my drive from the RPM. I really dig the hi-gain/overdriven sound. I used to play with a ODB-3 before I got my Sansamp, but I always found that it sounded more like a distortion than an overdrive.

    I need an amp that I can gig with, it is not for studio use for now. So you think that 80 or 100w isn't gonna cut it? What else can you recommend, except the usual SVT?
  4. pgk


    Aug 19, 2007
    the 2000S is the one. accept no substitute.
  5. sledz


    Jan 31, 2008
    There are a lots of informations about Sunn on talkbass. As far as I know every 2x6550 Sunn amps share same power stage circuit so power output is the same on 100s and Sonaro.

    CL400Peavey, I've just bough Sceptre which is 80W (?) to replace my 200W tube which is too loud... ;)

  6. +1
  7. That's the one I was searching for, thanks for giving me the model number. Now I gotta wait for one to pop up on the classified...
  8. pgk


    Aug 19, 2007
    cool. keep at it, as they rarely come up for sale. their owners are passionate about them, for good reason. for sheer tone the only other amp in my experience that comes close to a 2000S is the early sixties blonde tolex Fender Showman, the best sounding bass amp Fender ever made
  9. johng999


    Jul 14, 2008
    Go to this website for Sunn information:

    Most Sunn tube amps were based upon old Dynaco hifi amps and were very good sounding for bass. The main Sunn amps were the 200s and 2000s which put out a good 60 watts and 120 watts respectively. These can be converted to 75 watts and 150 watts by switching to a SS rectifier, which I recommend for bass, as it also tightens up the bottom end if done right. I have used the Dynaco upgrade sold by Triode Electronics with great results.
    Part of the Sunn story was the speaker cabinets, partially horn loaded 2x15 jbl's and very efficient and loud.
    I have had several Sunns over the years and they are great amps. I currently own a 200s with the ss rectifier mod and it stays as my main practice amp.
    Sunns do have an issue with their power supplies as the peak voltage rating (525v) is often exceeded during warm up. This stresses the caps, often leading to failure, especially as today's wall voltage is generally higher than what was specified back in the 60's. The Triode Electronics board solves this problem with 1000v caps.
  10. D.M.N.

    D.M.N. (O)))) Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Alright, here's a bit of a crash course in what you're looking at.

    -Guitar amp
    -60w or 80w depending on whether or not it has solid state rectifiers or not.
    -Reverb, Tremelo

    -You said it was the head version, and not the combo version, correct?
    -40w or 80w depending on what tubes it has. Does it have EL34s or 6550s?
    -Bass Amp
    -Vol, Bass, Treble controls

    To answer the question at hand, whether or not these will suffice for gigging: short answer, no, I don't believe they will in the circumstances you've described. Sunn amps were designed around hi-fi circuits of their day (dynaco based), so they can be deceptively loud for their power rating. However, the ones your looking at top out at 80w (before distortion). Is that loud enough for some people? Sure, if you're playing at a low to moderate volume and keep it clean. They can be very loud, but they will get very distorted. And not really the driven sound of an SVT, like....well, this is the sound of a bunch of overdriven Sunn 200s:

    They are not hi-gain either. I have a 200s, which essentially uses the same circuit as the later, 80w Sonaro, and it's my practice amp. I have gigged with it before, but I didn't expect to have loads of loud cleans. When I do a full gig, and I play with both a loud guitarist and drummer, like you described, I normally pack a 2000s with at least 2x15s. The 200s just wouldn't cut it. And my guitarist only uses a 60w amp. If your guitar player is using an Orange OR120 to anywhere near its full potential, I'd say you need to be looking at no less than 200w. I'd check out the new Fender Bassman line, maybe the older Bassman 300pro, or maybe Traynor (either the 200w or 300w model they have).

    I love Sunn, and pretty much recommend them to anyone over anything else, but in this instance, I just don't think they're what you're looking for.
  11. Bassmec


    May 9, 2008
    Ipswich UK
    Proprietor Springvale Studios
    You will need a few jbl k140's to get a sunn 2000s very loud clean but
    It's possible with this great old amp if you don't mind bringing a couple of the old 2x15 JBL K140 cabs.:bassist:
  12. D.M.N.

    D.M.N. (O)))) Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Exactly, I often use a 2000s into 4 K140s, and it can get silly loud for only 120w, but given a 100s or Sonaro? Not so much. Not to say they aren't great amps, it's just that they aren't going to hold up with a OR120 and loud drummer.
  13. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Toronto Ontario Canada
    A reasonable rule of thumb to follow is five to ten times the power your guitar player is using and the cabinets to handle that power.

    Edit: And ear plugs to protect your hearing!
  14. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    It looks like Keith Ferguson would agree.
  15. You're the seller? Ship to Canada?
  16. Some of these responses are silly. You don't need a 200w tube head to be heard. A good working, 2x6550 Sunn (I have a '68 Sorado), with the right cab and eq will sound great in a band scenario. If recommend a pair of EV's or JBL's in a nice ported cab (Sunn, Acoustic 406/408, etc.) Might not be the loudest amp on earth with an 8x10 rated 100dB, but set it correctly and it'll be fine. Make sure you match the impedance. They sound extremely balanced and take pedals really well (I think pedals spun better with a tube amp naturally breaking up).

    It's louder than my YBA-1 (45w) was and louder than my Twin Reverb (85w). Probably just as loud, if not a hair quieter than my 140w Univox UX1501 which is very powerful, as well as my Sound City 100 (extremely conservatively rated 100w). These Sunn amps are loud and clean and break up at around 7 on the volume knob, yet will keep getting louder all the way up on the dial. Of course, a 2000s will get you there much quicker. If only they weren't 97" wide.

    In short, with the right set up, it can be loud and keep up with a band. If you're playing an empty room it might get a hair lost, lets hope your band can fill up wherever you play. Still shouldn't be too much of a problem. In comparison, my guitarists plays a 100w JMP cranked and my Sound City 100, both simultaneously.

    Just my $0.02. There's a HUGE Sunn amps appreciation thread here on TB and plenty of loud, punk, stoner, doom, players play these with no problem. Don't take my word for it though, I'm just a kid with my own experience. Everyone has different opinions :bassist:
  17. 2000S is the one seek! In many ways I liked it better than my Ampeg V4B, liked both better than my '72 SVT. That dude is one W I D E amp though.
  18. niki z

    niki z Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    There's a 2000s that's been sitting in a flea market guitar shop where I live. The guy can't find anyone to buy it.