For a clean sound, I dialed the volume to about 8 o’clock on the amp, and set the other parameters to 12 o’clock. I flipped on the Bright switch and put both humbuckers on, and the clean tone was immediately well balanced and full. I didn’t feel the need to adjust the parameters at all. The bass frequencies were deep but not too boomy, while the highs were glistening and bell-like. With both pickups on, it was a nice balance of the entire tonal spectrum. I stayed with those settings when I plugged in my Strat. The clean tone was a little more chimey and sparkling, but again I didn’t feel the need to adjust the EQ knobs from their 12 o’clock positions. This clean sound is great for playing soul and funk. Playing 9th chord funky rhythms, the tone is clear and tight with no breakup. With single coils, I could really hear the difference the Bright switch makes. With the pickup in the bridge position, I preferred to have the bright switch off for a warmer sound. Adding distortion, I tweaked the EQ slightly by bringing the middle and bass up. This setting was perfect for country rock, and I had a nice mix of twang and distortion.
I also tried the amp with a PRS Starla X guitar with soapbar pickups. I brought the Volume and Middle controls up and got a nice classic ‘60s distortion. With the soapbar pickups, the high notes were fat with a lot of bite to cut through the mix. Switching to the neck pickup, the overdrive was low and buzzy. With Drop-D tuning, I played some heavy single-note lines that would satisfy any grunge fan.
I also played around with the 3-spring reverb in the clean setting. It’s great for playing ‘50s-style rhythms, James Bond-style spy movie riffs or surf music. The mix and balance was good between dry and wet. The effect didn’t overpower the signal at all, and even when I turned it up all the way it was full without the guitar getting lost and drowning in too much reverb.
With every guitar I played, the PRS 30 was very touch sensitive. It had a lot of response depending on how hard or soft I played. It cleaned up nicely when rolling off the volume of the guitar. I was able to play rhythms with a clean sound and then give my leads a boost by turning the guitar volume all the way up for a semi-overdriven tone. The amp offers a variety of different tones just based on the velocity of your playing and the volume position on your guitar.
The Final Mojo
The PRS 30 is a good amp for many musical styles, such as classic rock, blues, funk, R&B, and country. As a standalone amp, it doesn’t venture into high-gain modern metal territory, so it probably wouldn’t be the first choice for heavy metal guitarists. Also, some guitarists may think there aren’t enough additional features on the PRS 30 to make it their ultimate main amp. Besides not having a high-gain option, there is no channel switching for an instant change of sounds, and there isn’t an effects loop. Overall, the PRS 30 succeeds in producing an English sound with an American twist. It offers classic EL84 tones with some adjustments and tweaks to the EQ section to give it a unique character and a sound all its own.
you’re a fan of the classic English EL84 sound.
you’re looking for an amp with high gain or channel switching.