Rave about my Sommatone!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by GenoBluzGtr, Apr 6, 2008.

  1. GenoBluzGtr

    GenoBluzGtr Supporting Member

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    Sorry to gush, but I just HAVE to comment on the phenomenal tones and character of my Sommatone Roaring 40.

    I picked this up used in a trade deal, and the tubes were VERY tired (microphonic, dead-sounding etc...) and the speaker had been changed out for a RW&B - which is a good speaker, but definitely NOT the one for this amp. The previous owner(s) had tried to push the amp into giving more headroom and it just didn't do the amp any favors.

    After some email exchanges with Jimmy Somma (EXCELLENT guy, very responsive and top-notch customer service!!!!), he reassured me that he specifically designed the circuit to work best with JJ tubes and the speaker he built it around was an Eminence Private Jack. This surprised me, and I stubbornly felt like any amp would respond much better to a more expensive NOS tubes and high dollar speakers. I luckily have friends who have stashes of these (as well as my own stash) and was able to try the amp out in a variety of tube and speaker configurations.

    Well, let me tell you, this amp is a MONSTER with the tubes and speaker that Jimmy recommends. I can't believe the difference it makes. Thank you Jimmy Somma for designing an amp to work best with more readily available components.

    Now, on to the amp....

    First, you can get great cleans out of this amp. You don't need a stiff, 120 watt speaker to do it.
    The two volumes (Norm and Bright) are internally jumpered (just like I do with my Tweed Bassman) and interactive. Nearly limitless combinations of growl/grind/crunch/bloom to be had just from manipulating these two controls. You can find Vox very easily here, as well as Plexi and Fender. The tone controls are the best. They respond to miniscule tweaks and the mid-range control is mind-blowing how it alters the tonal palette.
    The Presence control is more like a Vox "Cut" control, and really controls the bite and 'cut-through' better than any presence control I have seen. It works very interactively with the Tone controls as well.
    The most surprising control for me was the Master Volume. I HATE MASTER VOLUME AMPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have never found one that works as advertised... UNTIL NOW. This MV is as transparent as it can get. I can set the amp up for a large venue, and move into a small club and only adjust the MV and it's the SAME TONE. NO difference. Amazing. Finally, an MV that works.
    The amp is also equipped with footswitch to turn the Reverb on/off and to activate the Boost Switch. First the reverb...

    The reverb is a Fender circuit that has two controls... Dwell and Mix. Very nice sounding reverb, not overpowering (no Blackface here that becomes virtually unuseable for anything but surf above '3' on the dial), but deep, warm and musical. One twist with this verb is that the return circuit is in parallel, so when the amp gets pushed into overdrive, the 'verb is 'diminished' so it's not competing with your crunchy tone. Back off to clean and it's once again on top. Amazing.
    The Boost switch is absolutely PERFECT. It nudges the volume just the right amount for leads but there is also a Gain boost that happens when it's engaged. So the level AND the gain go up just the right amount. Excellent!!

    This is the first amp that I have ever encountered that I would feel absolutely comfortable with if I had no pedals. I can do cover band gigs without pedals... no lie. I can do cover band gigs in SMALL CLUBS with no pedals. Honestly. THe amp has touch sensitivity and responds so well to my guitar tone and volume controls as well as pick attack. Without touching the amp controls, I can get excellent cleans and deep, guttural growling overdrive without touching anything except my guitar. Last night at a gig I went wireless and went out into the crowd and went from clean picking to crunchy chords to searing, smoking, thick leads and never approached the stage. I have never been able to stray from my pedal board before!

    Sorry to rant so long, but this is a PHENOMENAL amp. It isn't a Vox Clone, it isn't a Plexi Clone, it won't reproduce perfect Fender BF or Tweed tones... it's definitely UNIQUE while combining the perfect combination of all that is good about those amps. I have received nothing but "what is that new amp that sounds so good?" comments from my guitar playing buddies.

    If you get a chance, try one of these. A bit on the expensive side, but worth every red cent.
     
  2. Jimmy Somma

    Jimmy Somma Member

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    Thanks for the awesome review! I'm glad to see the amp has found a happy home. :)
     
  3. onemind

    onemind Member

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    :bow My Roaring Twenty is a constant in my home studio. It's a bit of a chameleon and I'm always confident I can dial in great sounds. Single Coils, Humbuckers....Clean, Crunch, great reverb....effective master and interactive tone controls. You can't want for much more.
     
  4. picnic

    picnic Supporting Member

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    It is a super amp. Use to be mine and I enjoyed playing it. I had put the RWB in it and the speaker thread about that was very interesting.
    Great build and Jimmy is super nice guy to work with.
    Best of luck with it.
     
  5. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    I'm going to add to this....just to give a bump to a worthy thread....

    The roaring 40 may just be the best "new"(er) amp I've heard in the past 10 - 15 years. Jimmy has nailed it.

    And the reverb circuit? Don't get me started! Jimmy has this all figured out, too.

    Do not pass up the chance to play one of these amps....
     
  6. GenoBluzGtr

    GenoBluzGtr Supporting Member

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    Yeah... the reverb is nearly indescribable... it's not 'over the top', but it's very present. Like the "goldilocks...just right" kind of reverb. And when you turn up the guitar to go into crunch or leads, it's not in the way at all like many amps known for their reverb when clean.

    Any of you going to the 10 May Amp Show in Jersey, make sure you stop by and give Jimmy's stuff a good listen. You'll be amazed.
     
  7. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Toneful. One of the few Master Volumes that I like.
    Great craftsman, great guy. My "go to" man.

    Best, Pete.
     
  8. Craftmatic

    Craftmatic Member

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    Jimmy's amps are amazing. Met him and played the Slick 18 last year at the NY Amp show. Looking forward to going again this May. Want to try out the Roaring line.
     
  9. Grant Ferstat

    Grant Ferstat Some guy in obscure bands in a far away place... Silver Supporting Member

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    I SO want to try your amps, tell me you'll have an Aussie dealer soon!
     
  10. jamison162

    jamison162 Supporting Member

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    After having tried a couple dozen speakers myself, I gotta tell you, the Eminence Private Jacks are great, great speakers. Currently my #1.
    They are so under the radar. They are a poor man's Scumback M75-HP. :) (Which I also own). I like the Private Jacks much better than the Celestion Heritage G12-65's, and you know how much talk/exposure those get.

    Jimmy knows what he's doing using those PJ's in his amps. In fact, I'm pretty sure he told me most of the clips on his website are played through the PJ's.
     
  11. Jimmy Somma

    Jimmy Somma Member

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    We don't have an Aussie dealer yet... but we're working on it. What dealer is close to you?
     

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