Sunn Spectrum I // Albie's Weird Gear Corner

Posted by Albert Mills on

Welcome to the very first installment of Albie’s Weird Gear Corner! This is a place for those who love off the beaten path musical equipment; there wIll be no American Standard Teles, AC15s or transparent overdrives featured here, only things that - hopefully - you’ve never seen before and that will pique your interest. This is the first of many to come and I couldn’t be more excited about not only writing this, but having an excuse to buy more head turning gear.

We’re starting off with a bang on one of my all time favorite amps from my personal collection, this super clean, Sunn Spectrum I tube head.

Sunn isn’t a completely unfamiliar brand to most, but for those who aren’t aware of them, Sunn was a company that made incredible amplifiers from the 60’s all the way until the early 2000’s. They’re known for being well built, sounding great (especially with a good fuzz), and being LOUD.

Sunn Spectrum I Guitar Tube Amp Head

What Makes it Weird?

This one in particular is a lesser known model, even when compared to the somewhat similar Spectrum II. When you combine the fact that these very rarely ever come up for sale, that they were only made for a very short amount of time toward the early years of the company, and that there’s very little information on these amps out there today, it’s an interesting one to say the least. 

Sunn Spectrum I Guitar Tube Amp Head

So How Does it Sound?

In one word? Great. In more words? It’s bright, full of both presence and life in the highs and upper midrange, while at the same time having more low end than the average human being could ever desire on tap. That being said, I often times find myself using it not only as a guitar amp, as it was originally intended, but also as a bass amp. I favor it on guitar due to the lower mid scoop being a little bit outside of my normal bass tone, but it’s still a great sound in it’s own right and I’d happily use it on stage or in the studio with either instrument. Despite being powered by only two EL34s, this amp is loud and has plenty of relatively clean headroom on tap making it a great pedal platform. It still is capable of being pushed into natural breakup if you don't mind angry neighbors and that’s where I feel this amp really shines. Throw in an asymmetrical clipping overdrive or silicon fuzz in front of it and prepare to have your mind blown.

Sunn Spectrum I Guitar Tube Amp Head

Where Did it Come From?

This killer amp was picked up via one of my favorite places to buy gear, the Kansas City Craigslist. Like most of my Craigslist dealings over the years, we met at a well lit, public place, a small gas station near the KC IKEA, and made a trade. Along with the Sunn I also obtained one of those funky Modern Player Jaguars that had no pickguard, and P90s for a CIJ Jaguar Bass that I had gotten in a trade a few months earlier. The Classic Player Jag has since been sent off into the world but this Sunn? Who knows where it's been before, but now, it’s here to stay.

Sunn Spectrum I Guitar Tube Amp Head

Fun Facts and Rating

Anyone who knows me knows that I love both fun facts and ratings out of ten, so it only seems natural I should end my blog with one of each.

Fun Fact: Sunn was founded by Norm Sundholm, the bass player of the Kingsman, because he found that none of his bass amps were loud enough for the gigs they were playing.

I’d be willing to bet $1 that you’ve heard their hit version of the song "Louie Louie”.

Rating: 9.74/10

P.S. Yes it dooms.

P.P.S. You can mail your dollar to:
1111 N. 13th St.
STE 118
Omaha NE.


Albie's Weird Gear Corner

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  • I go to the same church in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon as Conrad Sunholm, Norm’s brother. Conrad and Norm were partners in the Sunn company (they added the second ‘n’ due to copyright reasons). Now retired, Conrad makes amazing all hand-built boutique tube guitar and base amps. The name of his company—what else? Conrad.

    Don Mitchell on
  • You posted on my BD dude… Hey Albert ever heard of a WEM?

    jim on
  • Edited! Thanks so much for the heads up there Cyle.
    I’m stoked you guys are digging it :)

    Albert M. on
  • You mean Modern Player not Classic Player. But I digress, that head is awesome.

    Cyle Ritchie on
  • Love this blog! I think its a very cool idea! Can’t wait to see more weird gear!!!

    Logan on

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