To anyone who's ever cranked a 60's Sunn, what did sound like (and did your ears survive?)

BoomTexan

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I've been contemplating buying one of the cheaper, lower wattage Sunns, perhaps a Sonic1 or Sonaro, getting an attenuator, and cranking it.
I just want to see if I could justify the $1000 it would take to get there.
 

Wally

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Okay…I’ll bump. I have limited experience. The only vintage Sunn I have been around was a 1200s that I owned for a while. 4x6550s driving a 6x12 cab. Very clean amp. However, when the mid boost was pulled, one could hear Leslie West in the Mountain days. Loud!! Special amp, imho. I did not like Sunn’s choice of metal dust cover Eminence speakers, though.
 

Obsessed

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The only 60s Sun machine I used was in the early 70’s high school auto shop. Pretty quiet until you got past 4000RPM.
3C984085-6FEB-47DC-83F7-7DF0CE12E489.jpeg
 

Zootallures

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I have two Sunns. I have a Sonaro and Sentura II. The Sonaro is from ‘72 and it’s super loud. It starts overdriving around 7 on the knob. Mine didn’t have a cathode bypass capacitor on the first gain stage and when I first got it seemed quieter than I expected for a Sunn. I added a cathode bypass capacitor and it’s so much louder now. It shakes the walls and I’ve only used it through a 2x12.

The Sentura II I have it’s from ‘67 and it was modded a ton before I got it. I’m still trying to figure out everything that was done to it but it’s just as loud as the Sonaro and sounds better on guitar.

They’re both very loud amps and they take pedals really well.
 

mexicanyella

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A former bandmate had a Sunn head called a Sonic I-40, if I remember right. It only had a few knobs...volume, treble, bass (maybe a mid too) plus the power and standby switches. It appeared to have only a pair of 6550s and a 12a_7 phase inverter; I assume it was a solid state preamp feeding the tube power section.

It sat on a 1 x 12 cab with a Peavey Black Widow in it, and when you cranked it up it was face-shatteringly loud but it had some fearsome slam. This big cutting KA-CHANGGG!!!!! that made you want to do some Pete Townsend windmill arm.

Not enough gain for metal, but what a killer classic rock rhythm guitar amp it would have been.
 

naneek

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When I was in high school my friend's dad had a sunn stack, I'm not sure what it was but he was very proud to say it was "the same as the one that David Gilmour played live on the dark side of the moon tour."

it was way too loud. My friend bought a variac for him but he wouldn't use it.

It sounded perfect for ac/dc type classic rock, we had some fun jams with that thing. But it was complete overkill, way too loud for me.
 

Paul G.

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Rented a sunn backline for a gig in a grade school gym….. just a little overkill…..

louuuuuuuud is what I remember but we also didn’t know **** about setting up those amps. It did however fit our style since we played a lot of blue cheer

Blue Cheer was the loudest band I ever saw. I wonder if any of those guys are still alive, still have any hearing left, and was there any brain damage?
 

Skyhook

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Blue Cheer was the loudest band I ever saw. I wonder if any of those guys are still alive, still have any hearing left, and was there any brain damage?

Loudest band I ever saw was Die Krupps. I was wearing ear plugs(which for the record attenuated a Manowar concert quite adequately).
Still I had to leave the room and scamper downstairs by the main entrance to be able to hear anything except brain crushing noise.
And there by the entrance, one floor down, while wearing earplugs which stops Manowar... there's where Die Krupps became bearable.
 

Henry Mars

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Well a few of my friends used them back in the day including a famous one. They liked them I didn't. I thought they sounded muddy for lack of a better description. I guess if you liked the sound they were good. I never wanted one. That is just my take. Remember there is an ass for every seat. Therefore YMMV.
 

hmemerson

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I used to go to Leslie West's brownstone in Forest Hills. He had a Sam Ash solid state amplifier next to his bed. He'd start playing as soon as he woke up!

In the fall of 1969 while attending Berklee School of Music (aka avoiding the draft), I went to see Leslie at a Mountain sound check where he and Felix both had Sunn stacks.

There's just something about single coil Gibson pickups in EB-1 basses and LP Jr's that makes those amps obey, loudly of course, but in a very tonally musical way!

Truth is, of course, he even made that Sam Ash solid state sound amazing!

HE
 

BoomTexan

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Get an Earthquaker Devices “Acapulco Gold” pedal. Sounds like a dimed Model T, at a much more wallet friendly price point.

Thanks for the suggestion!

Do you ever have one of those moments where your entire guitar tone chasing life flashes before your eyes? I heard the Reverb demo of that pedal and WOW. It fits that dark heavy blues rock and proto-metal niche that I've been trying to get into for forever.

I might not even need to buy a fuzz either. This could actually save me money for once...
 

BoomTexan

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A former bandmate had a Sunn head called a Sonic I-40, if I remember right. It only had a few knobs...volume, treble, bass (maybe a mid too) plus the power and standby switches. It appeared to have only a pair of 6550s and a 12a_7 phase inverter; I assume it was a solid state preamp feeding the tube power section.

It sat on a 1 x 12 cab with a Peavey Black Widow in it, and when you cranked it up it was face-shatteringly loud but it had some fearsome slam. This big cutting KA-CHANGGG!!!!! that made you want to do some Pete Townsend windmill arm.

Not enough gain for metal, but what a killer classic rock rhythm guitar amp it would have been.

That's the one I'm looking at. Sounds perfect for what I do.
 

Ronzo

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Some years ago, a friend arranged for me to be gifted a Sunn Concert Lead head plus a Cerwin-Vega horn-loaded 2x12 cabinet that his keyboard player friend wanted out of his house.

I was living in my tiny post-divorce apartment at the time. My Pastor allowed me to store them, along with their heavy Anvil road cases, at my Church.

Plugged it in and slowly fired it up. Can’t remember the tone very much, but I sure remember the volume! It all worked, and damned near deafened me.

In all fairness, much of the volume came from that C-V cabinet’s efficiency. I plugged my modded Valve Junior head into it, and that rig sounded massive. With a 5-watt amp head. It hung with a moderately loud drummer easily.

My Church has used that rig for bass, and to play synth tympani using an Alesis NanoSynth patch and an Alesis Octapad as the trigger. It takes just about anything we throw at it in stride. Whenever our orchestra needs something powerful in the low end of the sound spectrum, it gets wheeled out. And an element of the congregation cringes. :)
 

The Angle

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I played a Sunn Solarus with matching 2x12 cab through the mid-late '70s. 60 watts, loud as hell. Usually had to rely on an MXR Distortion+ for distortion because turning it up loud enough to get natural overdrive was rarely an option in the places we played. I'd call it sort of a Marshall sound but a little more scooped and without the clear, bell-like cleans. It had a mid-boost switch and a Contour knob that to the best of my understanding acted like a Presence control, so you could get a lot of bite from it. Reverb was good, tremolo I remember being just OK; I seldom used trem back then. The reverb tank could be locked to protect it during travel. Did it actually offer any protection? Beats me, but I thought it was a cool feature.

Sunn Solaris.jpg
 
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teletail

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I've been contemplating buying one of the cheaper, lower wattage Sunns, perhaps a Sonic1 or Sonaro, getting an attenuator, and cranking it.
I just want to see if I could justify the $1000 it would take to get there.
I’ve bought a couple of vintage amps, including an old Sunn amp. At the volumes I play, they were kind of disappointing. Before I sunk money into one I’d be brutally honest with myself about how i could actually use it.
 

JRapp

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I had a Sonaro into a 4x12 for awhile, great cleans, really had to goose it to get it to break up. But it sounded great. And no, it wasn't that loud.
 
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