Sunn Amps reveals first new post-resurrection product range

Sunn Amplifiers 2023
(Image credit: Sunn)

Sunn Amps has unveiled its first lineup of bass and guitar amps since the brand has been reanimated under the partnership of Fender and Mission Engineering.

The KT88-equipped ultra-linear tube amp heads are the big ticket items here, with the 100S offering guitarists 65 mega-loud watts and a taste of what Hendrix and Townshend were playing through, with 200s a reproduction of the brand’s powerful, straightforward and uncompromising bass amp of the late ‘60s.

Both the 100S and 200S feature Dynaco transformers as per the originals, and this sense of a brand being resurrected is very much the vibe, right down to the Tolex coverings on the amps and speaker cabinets, which have been reverse engineered from archive samples.

The 100S and 200S share similar dimensions and a similar complement of tubes, with a pair of KT88s in the power amp section, 12AX7s in the preamp, and a GZ34 rectifier. 

The front panel is clean and unfussy, with two 1/4” inputs, Volume, Treble, Bass, and Contour dials on the 100S guitar amp, Volume, Treble and Bass on the 200S bass amp. Each of the amps has rocker-style switches for standby, polarity and power. Both are priced $3,199. 

The tube heads are joined by a quartet of Beta series models: the Beta Lead 100-watt head and the Beta Lead preamp, and the Beta Bass 100-watt amp head and its preamp version. All have a dual-channel design and feature Sunn’s “Digital CMOS technology”, which is to say they have an analogue mosfet preamps, with the full amps having a Class D power amp. 

The Beta series amps and preamp heads look identical from the front, with a trio of 1/4” inputs, three-band EQ, Drive and Level controls for each channel, plus master volume, and spring reverb on the guitar-voiced Beta Lead models, but the connections on the rear of the unit is where you can tell them apart, with the amps having 1/4” speaker outputs, and the preamps having a 1/4” jack and balanced XLR output. 

The Beta Lead and Beta Bass amp heads are priced $799, while the preamp versions are priced at $699.

And rounding out the first gear drop are the mono Concert Lead 1 (1x12”) and stereo Concert Lead (2x12”) full-range monitors, plus 2x12” and 2x15” guitar and bass speaker cabinets. The Concert Lead 1 monitor is priced $1,799, the Concert Lead 2 is $2,299. Prices TBA on the cabs. 

There are also some merch options, and why not, because that Sunn logo carries some cultural weight these days. Many a Sunn design has become a cult classic, and has spread outside guitar culture with the success of drone pioneers Sunn O))), who took their name – and their tone – from the brand.

Fender first acquired the Sunn Amps brand in December 1985, a period of change for electric guitar tone. Solid-state designs were on the ascendancy, and amps such as the Beta Lead would become flagship models. 

Buzz Osborne was an early champion. Kurt Cobain would use them on Nirvana’s touring cycle for Bleach. Adam Jones of Tool would be another credited with using a Beta Lead. 

By 2002, however, Fender decided to put Sunn on ice, and it has been waiting for the right time to relaunch it. Under this partnership with Mission Engineering, new Sunn amps will be manufactured under license in the USA, with many of the original Sunn employees back on board for the brand’s comeback. 

When the news was made official on Tuesday 1st August, James Lebihan, CEO of Sunn Amplification, said it was a long-held dream that they would be able to bring the Sunn brand back from the dead.

“Resurrecting the Sunn brand has long been a dream of our team, and we are thrilled to be the trusted partner Fender has selected to bring this vision to life,” he said. “We are honoured to have a robust group of Sunn enthusiasts, including some of the original employees, join us on this journey to restore Sunn for musicians worldwide. If you know the Sunn brand, and the historical significance it has in the music industry, you understand why the world needs it back.” 

For more information and to sign up for more product news, head over to Sunn Amps.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.