It may be fair to say that PRS isn’t a company that most guitarists would usually think of when the discussion turns to guitar amps. While top quality guitars are truly their main focus, they do offer a full line of amplifiers that live up to that same reputation. The PRS Sonzera 20 is a perfect example of how the PRS team has taken their drive and passion for creating extremely high-quality music gear into the guitar amp market space.
The Sonzera 20 is a low wattage (20W) all tube combo amp that is meant to accommodate the functionality and sonic needs of the gigging musician while being a great choice for recording environments as well.
It’s intended to be a little powerhouse package, with an overall size of 19.5” x 10.5” x 18” and weighing in at a very manageable 42 lbs. Yeah…it may be a little heavier than a solid-state amp with the same dimensions, but for our money, there’s just something about a good tube amp that can’t be beat – we’ll take the hit on the weight for the tone!
Inside, you’ll find a single 12” Celestion V-Type speaker along with all tube preamp and power amp sections. The Sonzera 20 is decidedly ‘old school,’ as it is a simple 2-channel amp and an effects loop. The two channels include Clean and Gain. It does just fine on its own without any modern tech USB-whatnots, Bluetooth-whats-its, or digital widgets.
A simple feature design leads to a simple controls layout on the Sonzera 20. You’ll find only three knobs for the Clean channel, including Bass, Treble, and Volume. But you do have a little more flexibility on the Gain channel as it features five knobs. Those five knobs are for Bass, Mid, Treble, Level, and Drive. An additional perk is a ‘Gain Bright’ toggle switch to help accent higher frequencies when you’re digging into a little dirt.
Global controls (those that are active regardless of what channel you’re using) include a Presence knob (a type of tope sculpting control) along with Reverb as well. Kudos go to PRS here, as it would have been super easy to put a digital reverb in; instead, you’ll find a true 3-spring unit instead.
Channel switching is done either by the switch on the front panel or by the included footswitch (which also has a footswitch for turning the reverb on and off as well).
In our opinion, the Sonzera 20 may just be the right tool for players that hit the stage. It’s not too small, but it’s not too big either. And if you’ve ever lugged around a big, heavy amp from venue to practice space back to venue back to practice space, then you have first-hand knowledge of what an inconvenience that can be.
So it’s relatively small and portable – that must mean that it can’t pack a lot of punch, right?
Wrong. WAY wrong, actually.
You may think 20W of power doesn't sound like much, but don’t let yourself be deceived – the Sonzera 20 has more than enough power to get you out above the mix. Even in the cases where you may have a mic in front of it to go through the house PA, you can still dial in rich, warm, and full tube amp tones, even at lower volume settings.
We will say that if you’re looking for a shred box that has enough gain to melt steel, then the Sonzera 20 may not be the amp for you (but it does take pedals well if you want to up your game in that manner). On its own, it’s right up the alley for sweet clean tones while getting your classic rock or blues mojo on.
The bottom line is this: the PRS Sonzera is an often-underappreciated combo amp that may not get the respect it deserves. It’s well built, powerful, and produces a wide variety of tones that should satisfy even the most diverse guitarist.
What’s even more impressive is that you can get this level of awesomeness in an amp that’s solidly in the under-$1,000 price range. Give the PRS Sonzera 20 a try – you may be pleasantly surprised!