Prs sweet 16

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PRS Sweet 16 head

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PRS Sweet 16 head

Building guitar amps and making a profit is one of the hardest jobs in the MI industry. Even in the USA, the most guitar-friendly market in the world, there are dozens of 'also-rans' who start with great promise but quickly fade into obscurity for various reasons.

Existing high-profile brands who move into the amp market don't seem to be immune from this either. And so it was for Paul Reed Smith in the late-eighties when the company launched its solid-state HG (Harmonic Generator) series, designed by Eric Pritchard.

"The construction approach makes the Sweet 16 a robust little amp that's unlikely to have reliability issues."

In an era when the future of valves seemed decidedly uncertain, the HG could have been the right amp at the right time. However, circumstances dictated otherwise and, despite features that were truly ahead of their time, the HG soon disappeared from PRS catalogues.

After a hiatus of nearly 20 years, PRS has now re-entered the amp market with a range of valve heads and combos designed by Texan amp builder Doug Sewell, who now heads up the PRS amp division.

Sweet 16 head and its matching cabinet are finished in a neat two-tone black and off-white vinyl PRS calls 'Tuxedo'. Both boxes are built from solid pine and for the most part the vinyl covering is neatly executed.

There are a few small ripples in the corners of the white panel on the head cabinet that really shouldn't be there in this price bracket, and the radiusing on the 'V'-shaped cut-outs could be a lot more even.

The black piping around the front of the head cabinet is missing on the speaker cabinet, although this is a prototype unit so we'll reserve judgement. The Sweet 16's electronics sit inside a thick aluminium chassis with welded corners; there are two quality PCBs, one for the power supply components and one for the preamp and reverb circuitry, which also contains sockets for the four preamp valves.

These are quite deeply recessed and could prove difficult to replace, however the two 6V6 power valves are chassis-mounted, as are all front and rear panel components. This construction approach makes the Sweet 16 a robust little amp that's unlikely to have any reliability issues.

Watch as Simon Bradley (Guitarist) talks us through the Sweet 16

The controls are clear, with a straightforward layout of volume, master volume and three-band EQ complemented by a bright switch and a level control for the Sweet 16's short-pan Belton reverb spring.

On the rear panel there are two speaker sockets with a toggle switch to select output impedance. This switch could easily be knocked to a wrong setting and PRS should perhaps consider changing it to a tamper-proof design. Minor finish issues aside, overall the Sweet 16 is a quality piece of kit.

Simple amp layouts often reward with highly transparent and responsive tones, and at lower levels this lil' PRS produces rich and detailed clean sounds, enhanced by its smooth reverb circuit.

We used a variety of quality instruments to check out the Sweet 16's affections: our regular Duncan Alnico Pro-loaded Strat was joined by two high-end monsters in the shape of an early 1994 PRS McCarty with outrageous acoustic sustain and a Fender '51 Nocaster, arguably one of the best 'production' instruments ever to come out of the Custom Shop facility.

One of the first things we noticed was that the Sweet 16 has almost too much treble, forcing us to roll back tone controls on amp and guitar for the best overall balance. But all three guitars were reproduced with a transparency that enhanced their distinct characteristics: the subtle mid-range and silvery treble bite of the McCarty, the twang and snap of the Nocaster's bridge pickup and the slightly compressed quack of the Strat's in-between switch settings are all delivered with authority and a pleasing bouncy response.

With the gain and master volume wound up more, the Sweet 16 pushes into a nice punchy distortion that maintains clarity and definition right up to having everything maxed out.

Used like this, we preferred the reverb off as it distorts a little too much, spoiling the effect. But that's a matter of taste. Even with its single 12-inch driver, as in this Vintage 30-equipped cabinet, the Sweet 16 is plenty loud enough to cope with an un-mic'd drum kit, making it a useful and portable rig for small to medium gigs as well as a powerful studio tool.

On the downside, proper clean headroom is somewhat limited and we noticed that the speaker cabinet managed to vibrate the lightweight head - hitting a B or C barre chord on the seventh or eighth frets at full volume caused the head to start dancing around quite wildly.

It's still early days for PRS's amp project and launching a new high-end amplifier range in the current economic climate was never going to be easy. On one hand, as good as the amp is, the price is still hard to justify, although having checked with PRS's UK distributor we were told it will have a considerably lower street price, which certainly sweetens the deal.

Even so it'll face stiff competition from more established and in many cases affordable brands. But that aside, overall the Sweet 16 is a good-sounding and nicely made small amp that many players would feel at home with, especially those used to setting up a lead tone on the amp and using the guitar's volume control to clean things up.

Fans of US country-rock and blues fusion, typified by artists such as David Grissom and the legendary Steve Miller, will love the Sweet 16's twangy vibe and Texas-approved distortion colours - it certainly has the right tone and attitude to cover anything that crosses into those genres.


PRS Sweet 16 Review

PRS Sweet 16Despite the amp’s expensive price tag (particularly for a single channel amplifier), the PRS Sweet 16 is worth the price of admission.

Since the mid 1980s, Paul Reed Smith has earned a coveted reputation as a master guitar builder, having designed countless quality guitars, including such well-respected models as the Custom 22, Custom 24, McCarty, and Singlecut.

Before the release of the PRS amplifier line in 2008, though, not too many people knew that PRS is pretty knowledgeable about guitar amps as well. The PRS partnership with legendary amp designer Doug Sewell has yielded some first class amplifiers in recent years, including such highly praised amps as the Dallas and Blue Sierra.

Of course, these premium amps come with a hefty price tag. Enter the PRS Sweet 16, which sports the same quality tone and performance as its bigger brothers, but at a much more affordable price (and reduced output). For many players, though, the smaller footprint and reduced wattage of the Sweet 16 might even be more appealing. Let’s look at the details and see how sweet this amp really is.

The PRS Sweet 16 is a single-channel amp that makes up in tone what it lacks in features. It sports EQ controls for treble, middle, and bass, as well as volume and master volume. A bright switch is standard, as is a short-pan reverb. One interesting feature of the master volume control is that, when cranked, it is completely removed from the circuit path, so the amp becomes a non-master volume amplifier.

A single power switch provides standby duties (off/standby/on). The amp’s simplicity is also echoed on the back panel, which has a simple speaker output jack, extension speaker out, and impedance switch. In keeping with the amp’s simple design, no effects loop is to be found.

The Sweet 16 is powered by a pair of 6V6 power tubes which are cathode-biased (resulting in improved harmonics, compression, and response). The preamp and reverb section are powered by 12AX7 and 12AT7 tubes. The combo (which I tested) features a Celestian G12H Vintage 30 12” speaker.

It’s hard to describe the Sweet 16 as being a “Fender,” “Vox,” or “Marshall” style amplifier. Honestly, you can find most classic amp tones in here if you look hard enough. It’s easy to get the clean chimes of a Vox AC30, but the EQ and reverb also make it equally effortless to dial in sounds reminiscent of a Fender Deluxe Reverb. However, given the amp’s unique volume knob circuitry, it’s also pretty easy to get Marshall Plexi tones as well (in a much more manageable package, of course).

While the variety of sounds is pretty amazing (especially given the amp’s apparent simplicity), the real “mojo” happens when you see how sensitive the amp is to a player’s touch. The dynamics of this amplifier are impossible to quantify. When plugged in, it’s almost like you’re playing a single instrument, not two separate entities. Few amplifiers allow you to control your sound simply using your guitar’s volume knob as easily as the PRS Sweet 16. The amp responds to every nuance, from a light touch to country pops.

Given the amp’s relatively light weight, I opted for the combo, which is a semi-open back design. This was also a stylistic choice. I’m primarily a blues, jazz, and classic rock player, so the looser feel of the semi-open combo fits my needs perfectly. I’ve tried the head/cabinet version as well, and as you’d expect it’s a bit tighter and punchier. Still, it’s impossible to get a bad sound out of either.

Final Thoughts
Despite the amp’s expensive price tag (particularly for a single channel amplifier), the PRS Sweet 16 is worth the price of admission. Don’t be fooled by this amplifier’s simple layout, which masks an array of complex sounds. Unless you’re a diehard metal fan, you can get what you want, since the amp contains a virtual warehouse of tones in the jazz, country, blues, and class rock genres.

Name of Gear:PRS Sweet 16 Combo
List Price: $2,045
Manufacturer Info: PRS Guitars,
Pros: Versatile; responsive; lush reverb
Cons: A bit pricey for a single channel amplifier

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PRS Sweet 16 Amp Review

Download Example 1
Clean - Bright Off, Volume 7 o'clock, Reverb 10 o'clock, Treble, Middle and Bass at noon, Master 11 o'clock. Fender VG Strat.
Download Example 2
Head then Combo with same settings - Bright on, Volume 5 o'clock, Reverb off, Treble 3 o'clock, Middle noon, Bass 2 o'clock, Master 10 o'clock. PRS Mira X.
Download Example 3
Classic Rock - Bright on, Volume 3 o'clock, Reverb off, Treble 1 o'clock, Middle 2 o'clock, Bass 11 o'clock, Master 8 o'clock. PRS Mira X.
All clips recorded with a Shure SM57 with Digidesign Pro Tools
Paul Reed Smith and master amp builder Doug Sewell have teamed up to create a new amplifier called the Sweet 16. This new single channel amp combines excellent tone and quality aesthetics and a not-so-expensive price point, and is available as a head or a combo amp. The Sweet 16 amp has 16 watts of cathode-biased 6v6 output tube power and is hand-wired in Stevensville, Maryland.

Sweet Simplicity
The Sweet 16’s simple controls include volume, treble, mid, bass, master volume and a bright switch. The preamp section consists of two 12AXT tubes and two 12AT7 tubes. The power tubes are biased to near Class A, so they run a bit hotter than normal. There is also a tube-driven 3-spring Reverb with a medium decay. The back panel of the Sweet 16 stays simple as well, with only an impedance selector and speaker outputs.

Plug In
I hooked up the Sweet 16 to one of the new Paul Reed Smith 1X12 speaker cabinets, and cranked the volume up all the way for a distorted tone. The Master Volume was set fairly low and all parameters were set to 12 o’clock. I plugged in a variety of humbucker-equipped guitars, such as a Schecter Horton with Seymour Duncans, an Ibanez 540 with EMGs and a PRS Mira X. Power chords were fat and chunky, with plenty of bite. I was able to get a good distortion with a classic British rock vibe immediately, without even spending any extra time knob twiddling. It was a nice, thick and smooth overdriven tone, with a fat controlled bass and a strong mid character. The Sweet 16 offers a voicing that can’t easily be compared to a sound such as a Marshall or a Vox. It has its own thing going on, which is a good thing. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how robust the volume and tone are with the Sweet 16, which proves that good things do come in small packages!

I really liked how responsive the Sweet 16 was, depending on how hot the pickups are. With each guitar I tried, the tone was sweet and warm with a very musical distortion when pushed hard. Backing off on the guitar’s volume, the Sweet 16 proved to be quite touch-sensitive. You can start off with a clean tone, and the amp reacts well to the velocity of your strumming by adding a touch more crunch and bite when you dig in a little harder. A guitarist will appreciate being able to control the amp just by the attack of the pick or a turn of the guitar’s volume knob.

The Sweet 16 sounds great with single-coil pickups as well. With a clean tone, the highs were crisp and sparkly but also had plenty of warm and boomy low end to round out the sound. It offered great tones for blues, funk and country playing. I really liked the sound of my Strat’s single-coil in the neck position, for playing either rhythms with a clean sound, or leads with a more distorted tone. Also, the “edge of breakup” tone to full distortion sounded great with a Strat. The tone remained clear without getting too fuzzy or muddy.

You can clearly hear the range of certain parameters when using a clean sound. The bright switch definitely adds more shimmer and sparkle for more bell-like cleans. Also, the bass control is more useful in the clean setting. I found that turning up the bass a lot in overdrive made the tone a little too rumbling and buzzy for my liking.

The Combo
I was able to test out the Sweet 16 combo amp as well as the head. The combo has the exact same features and control panel as the head version, and includes a Celestion G12H-30 speaker. The amp’s sound is basically the same, although there was a slight difference in tonality between the combo amp and the head & cabinet combination. The new PRS closed-back 1X12 cabinet features a Vintage 30 speaker. Paired with the Sweet 16 head, this combination results in a very large-sounding and resonant tone. There was a really ballsy sound and bass response from this cabinet that I really liked and preferred over the combo version.

The Final Mojo
The Sweet 16 has tones that will please any rock, blues, country or jazz player. You won’t get an instant high-gain metal sound with the amp alone. However, I tried the amp with a high gain pedal and a guitar with active EMG pickups, and the amp was instantly transformed into a modern metal machine! So it is versatile enough that a guitarist can use this amp for a jazz session one day, and a metal gig the next day. (And yes, I do know many guitarists who work like that!)

Overall, I thought the Sweet 16 was amazingly well balanced, with really nice overtones. Guitarists will appreciate its portability, and can be used in the studio or on stage, as well as backstage or at home. It’s priced lower than other PRS amps, so it’s like getting a boutique amp without the big price tag. The Sweet 16 a small, single-channel, low-wattage amp with great tones and good looks, and is definitely an amp worth checking out.
Buy if...
You’re looking for a boutique quality amp at a reasonable price
Skip if...
You need an amp with an FX loop or more than one channel

PRS Sweet 16 Amplifier Combo In Depth Demo


16 prs sweet


PRS Guitars Sweet 16 Head • Wildwood Guitars Overview


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