Joker Test Run: Sommatone Roaring "40"

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by jokerjkny, Jul 14, 2005.


  1. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny Member

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    ... and HOLY CRAP!!! :dude

    i had two guitars that needed setups, and thought why not try Mr. Somma. been hearing alot about his amps from all y'all, so figured this would be the perfect opportunity. so, with my rosie/alder strat w/ Fralin VH's in tow, i travelled to Somerville, to hear what all the hubbub was about.

    as i rolled up to the handsome white two level home, i was greeted by a really tall, wiry, and very gracious, jimmy somma. besides being struck at how small his shop was, i was amazed at how clean and well kept his workspace was, and trust me i've seen some pig styes. along side his desk, one corner was lined with amps ranging from a funkified looking Danelectro head to an intimidating 100 watt JCM800, while another corner held court his custom creations that wowed all y'all at the last tonefest, while in another corner sat his beloved white korina bodied strat. it wasnt a bad place to call your office.

    after getting the guitar work outta the way, we dove headfirst into his amps. first tried the Roaring 20, loaded with a 12" Red Fang. right off the bat, the cleans were a nice mix of the ol' vox and fender chime, but unlike the Dr. Z formula, had more of that chimey vocal voxiness that i much prefer. pretty much had those matchless cleans i have always had in my head, but could never quite find in an actual matchless. but definitely one of the more voxier sounding amps that say their vox "inspired". also, had lots of breathy air like my Alessandro Blue Tick or English. clicking back and forth pickup positions, my strat exhibited this rounded, water beaded, fatness that seemed to be covered in a rich hifi glossy sheen.

    then, cranking the amp morphed the tone into this chunkie rippin' raunch that would have made Marc Bolan proud. upper end had that fat, gravelly, rowdy Vox flavor, and the middle mids werent compressed at all. they almost start to break up like a raunchy 6V6 amp, but then lower mids fill out the sound with a hungry man's fat chunkie feel. dare i say, like a cross btwn my Clark Lil Bit's rascally 6V6 flavor w/ heaping helping of plexi thrown in to taste.

    and yet, what struck me right off the bat was the incredible note definition. no matter how much gain the amp would put out, i could still tell i was on my middle pickup, or my neck pickup, or in btwn the two!! pretty similar to the sensation i get when playing my Fuchs, which is my "articulation" mental benchmark. no hiding behind this amp.

    course, plugging into the Roaring 40 changed all that. while being crunked up with a pair of 10" Ragin Cajuns, it had a decidedly more fendery midrange, and not quite as voxy. still, quite fat, and chimey all at once, and i'm sure that voxy flavor is easily attainable with a 2x12 loaded w/ fangs or blues, but i digress.

    bottom line, that added 20 watts made the amp that much more girthy, dynamic, and most of all, punchie! snap a few lines on the low E and A, and your chest is greeted with a few Roy Jones Jr. like body blows. like being snapped at by a ball peen hammer! while some amps simply convey your notes, this amps delivers the notes ASAP/UPS/FedEx. instantly reminded me of a Komet 60 in "Fast" mode.

    and while the amp does have a "boost" mode, i couldnt help but agree with jimmy to just keep the amp in boost mode. adds even more touch sensitivity to the semi dirty tones. and like jimmy mentioned, its also much easier getting to the cleaner tone, by simply turning the boost off, and rolling back just a wee bit. course, he can tailor the boost to whatever you like, but i think his default setting is best.

    the only niggle i had with the amps was that there wasnt quite enough low end for me. but i'm guessing that have more to do with the fact i've been gigging mostly as a bassist. :p also, the amps were propped up against the wall. still, in a band mix, i'm sure as a bassist, i'd actually appreciate the lack of muddying low end from the other side of the drum riser.

    so, if any of y'all are in the middle jersey area, do give Jimmy a visit. he's a class act, and a cool dooder to just chill and talk turkey, gravy, and gear. and yes, his amps will most definitely rock you. no doubt, i have a feeling that one his amps like say a 40 watt head in black 'n tan ;) will find their way to a tonefest near you. :D
     
  2. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Jae,

    Cool review.
    Marc Bolan? Yeah, now I know why I like these amps so much!
    I like the subtle interaction between the two Volumes and how they interact with the Master - and the fact that you can switch the Master out completely.

    The reverb WORKS and sounds good even when the amp is being overdriven - quite an accomplishment.

    He does great restoration work on amps too.

    Jimmy's cool, despite the fact I have to pick up my coffee from the local Quickchek en route.....

    Best, Pete.
     
  3. Ogre

    Ogre Member

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    Very interesting. When you make reference to your Alessandros and Clark Lil Bit LTD, you are barking right up my alley.
     
  4. cr8z4life

    cr8z4life Silver Supporting Member

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    Very happy owner of a roaring 20 here.........as far as the bottom.... I decided to custom build a 2x12. I took my top hat super deluxe as a model which I felt was missing something due to the cab size being a little too tight.....so I added 2" to the length-2" to the height-and 1" to the depth.....we put it a red fang and a g12h30 and now have a slammin amp! It is everything the roaring 20 1x12 is and more! It has all the pants leg whippin bottom you could want.....so if you took that roaring 40 and did it in a 2x12 format I guarantee it has everything in bottom you could ever want!! Here is a picture:

    [​IMG]
     
  5. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Keith,

    That 2x12 looks right. You know what I mean.

    Btw, Jae. Chapin Strata Houla (with the Strat to P90 Bridge P'up) sounds like it was made for this amp.....

    Best, Pete.
     
  6. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny Member

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    awwww yea... :cool:

    and very cool 2x12 combo keith! looks quite rockin'...
     
  7. cr8z4life

    cr8z4life Silver Supporting Member

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    It is!!! Dropped by Jimmys to pick up my Les Paul (by the way, he does great guitar work, if anyone needs a tech!) I got to try the roaring 40......nice small box with 2x10.....nice and tight with the 40 watts and the 10's give it more of a fender flavor......we a/b it with my bigger box 2x12 and I am happy to say that I am sticking with the 20.....if you dont mind a little bigger combo (same weight as the smaller 40 with the 10's because of the bigger transformer) this 20 sounded almost as huge as the 40!!! The red fang matched with the g12h30 and the bigger cab just had huge tight bottom and almost as tight tone......the only place it could have used a little more was on the cleans.....but I think sound men would rather have it this way and mike it than constantly tell you to "turn down" .....on the distorted tones I kinda liked it better.....lotsa nice flavor possibilities with Jimmys amp!!! You guys owe it to yourself to check these out.....
     
  8. Chi

    Chi Member

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    D'OH!!!!

    I heard and played the twenty, and it's to die for...currently trying to sell some gear for funds (and space) for a Sommatone. NEED to check out that 40, I'm sure it kills. Very curious to hear it with 2x12's....

    Jimmy is a gentleman and a scholar. Nicest guy with the best attitude I've come across in the business. Oh and his guitar repair and amp tech skills ROCK. I've seen him in action and used him as a tech. He is Pablo Picasso with a soldering iron....

    Second to none.:dude

    Dang I gotta get over there...
     
  9. cr8z4life

    cr8z4life Silver Supporting Member

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    In all honesty if your doing a 2x12 and you go with a little bigger box like mine.....you dont need the 40......just got back from the studio and with the band I am using the 20 with a plexi shield in front of it and NOT using all the power....using the master volume and a couple of pedals because with the master dimed its still to loud for full out with a 5 piece band!! This is no normal 20 watter! The tones are to die for!!! Whats nice is between the two blends (normal volume and bright volume) and the presence, you can dial in anywhere from vox to fender to marshal tonalities.....This could be the desert Island amp......
     
  10. John II

    John II Member

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    I'm jealous!

    :dude

    ~John II
     
  11. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Have you tried one, John?

    Jimmy's workshop is about ten miles from you.

    Best, Pete.
     
  12. John II

    John II Member

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    I have tried one. The Roaring 20. I was with Keith and another friend when Keith put the deposit on it. I was BLOWN AWAY. If I too had the cash, I probably would have bought one. I'm really interested in the 40 watter.
     
  13. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    Not sure if Jimmy posts on this forum, I wonder though why he went with a 2x10 setup vs 2x12 .. (then again personally I am a huge fan of 2x12 ...)
     
  14. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny Member

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    he wanted to keep it in the same 1x12 enclosure. but he can do whatever you want. 2x12, 1x12, etc.

    FYI, i'll be going back to the shop to pick up my gear. and i'll have my humbucker rigged guitars in tow. :cool:
     
  15. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Jae,
    Take the Chapin - they're a good fit. Jimmy has a thing about the Black Dog P'ups!

    Best, Pete.
     
  16. cr8z4life

    cr8z4life Silver Supporting Member

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    He used the 2x10 for two reasons.....the size- and with the 10" speaker choice on the forty it has much more of a fender flavor to it - and Jimmys favorite amps are fender tones......
     
  17. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    I didn't realize that Fenders are Jimmy's favourite amp tones?
    I know he can make a BF sound great though!

    When I've heard the Roaring 20 (still haven't managed the 40 yet) I hear a complex tone varying from Vox to Marshall.
    Look forward to trying the 40.

    Best, Pete.
     
  18. cr8z4life

    cr8z4life Silver Supporting Member

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    With 2x10" it sounds more fender to vox.....less of the marshal
    With the 2x12 it is more vox to marshal .....less of the fender

    Thats what we found when we a/b

    Thats the nice thing with this amp....it covers alot of ground and you can set it up to do exactly what you want!
     
  19. John II

    John II Member

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    Based on Keith's comments, I would probably prefer the 2x10" model. You can always use a pedal (OCD?) to get into Marshall territory, but it's hard to get into Fender clean territory.

    I would love to hear them!

    ~John II
     
  20. Jimmy Somma

    Jimmy Somma Member

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    Hi John,

    The R-40 with the 2x10's (Ragin" Cajun's) does take on a Fender like character on cleaner settings. It still has a nice british bark when it's pushed.
     

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