The SE Amp Story - 2011
In the summer of 2010, we started talking about how to expand our amplifier offerings to satisfy a new customer. I knew that PRS had a great business model already with the SE guitar line and that the price/quality ratio was in my opinion the highest in the industry. So, by applying well-developed concepts from the SE line, we set about the process of bringing a lower cost yet high quality amp line to market.
The features we wanted to offer were somewhat of a departure for us. We wanted two channels with separate EQ, an effects loop, and reverb. After several weeks of tweaking, we had a working prototype that was extensively field-tested, and we were very happy with our results. This hand wired prototype with high-end components and fairly labor intensive layout was used as a tonal “quality” and functional baseline for the actual SE amp models. At this point things became interesting as the prototype was so impressive we decided to offer it as a model. We called it the 2 Channel “C” and offered it at the 2010 PRS Experience. The “C” and the “H” subsequently became very popular models.
Working with consultants and experts completely versed in cost effective tube amplifier design, we designed a “manufacturing friendly” clone of the prototype. After many weeks of tweaking and developing their own tonal signatures, the final family of PRS SE amps was approved for manufacture. There is a great boutique attitude pervasive with the design and construction of these amps that make me very proud to be part of the project. Some of the features include custom wound transformers, .090 aluminum chassis, high-end “on-on-on” switches, the best sounding NNS tubes at any price, custom-voiced speakers, custom knobs, etc.
I cannot effectively describe the sense of teamwork, passion, and hard work associated with this endeavor but I feel it will be very evident in the final product. I would like to commend everyone that worked on it-- each person did a fantastic job. The process has been delightful from start to finish and I personally cannot wait until I can purchase my own, or more realistically one of each!
Thanks for your support,
- Doug Sewell
A Brief History of PRS Amplifiers
A few years ago, I was at the Dallas Vintage Guitar Show and
my band was scheduled to perform a few times. A friend said, “Hey. You need an amp to play through, and I have a friend who makes great amps.” He took me to the booth of a Texas amp builder, Doug Sewell. I loved the way his amps sounded, and after barely saying hello, Doug and I were inside rewiring the amp I was going to play through. Since that day, Doug and I have spent years rewiring and listening to every single possible variation to finalize the circuits. Our goal was to have highly usable and musical amplifiers.
I am not an amp collector. I am an amplifier user who keeps the amps I am presently playing through. That said, after Doug and I got several of the prototypes finalized, I sold some of
my old coveted live and studio amps because ours sounded considerably better. The next step was to take the prototypes to musicians who are known for their amplifier tone as well as their playing. What’s interesting is that when I spoke to these artists about trying the amps, they all said the same thing. “Sure I’ll use them, if I love them.”
In a real way, amplifiers are musical instruments. They are the devices that “amplify” the sound of the player’s hands, the guitar and possibly the pedal board. They must share many qualities. They must work - they have to have a beautiful balance of bass, midrange, and treble; the highs should be sweet - not harsh; they should be easy to operate and be highly musical. In addition, amps should clean up really well when you turn your guitar down. The final quality that Doug and I looked for are amps that sound good no matter where the knobs are. It is a rare quality that we insisted on.
I hope this hand-crafted amplifier gives you years of enjoyment, musical results, and pride in ownership. I appreciate your confidence.
- Paul Reed Smith