2 Aug 2023

Tone Partner: Sonic Drive Studio

Learn more about the creator, his gear collection and plans for the future

We're interviewing the creators of over 100 Tone Partner Collections now on ToneNET to learn more about their backgrounds and what inspired each collection.

We caught up with Tone Partner Jon Symons of Sonic Drive Studio to discuss his journey as a guitarist and how he came about producing his TONEX Collections, available on ToneNET to demo and purchase HERE.

Learn more about Sonic Drive Studio (Jon Symons):

IK Multimedia: You created two collections for the Tone Partner Marketplace: Heavy Legends 1 and Heavy Legends 2. Tell us about these collections.

Sonic Drive Studio: I want to offer packs that are great for high-gain, so rock and metal but also amps that are versatile. For example, the DuRec in Volume 1 has all the channels and modes so you can choose between clean, pushed cleans, crunch and various shades of high-gain. In Volume 2 there is the ORV50. This amp has wonderful and rich gain tones but also great crunch tones and nice cleans. So again, versatile! And if one amp in one pack is thick and loose, there will be a modern and tight amp to "counter" it and offer various shades of tone.

Sonic Drive Studio gear collection

IK: Why DI captures for your collections?

SDS: I love DI captures myself and that is how I always use them. I really like the idea of having the pure and raw tone of the amp and being able to change the cab IR whenever I like and to whichever cab I like. It's just more flexible that way to me. So even though I made these captures you will still be able to make them your own if you so please.


SDS: TONEX is the first platform that could capture the sounds of my tube amps very closely. From the first time I tried it I knew that this platform would be very beneficial for me and others. Even just the plug-in is amazing! Having my amp tones available in my DAW at a few mouse clicks away is incredible!

IK: What’s your approach to dialing in amps for TONEX?

SDS: I just want them to sound as good as possible with minimal tweaking. I know the sweet spots of my amps so that's what I'm offering.

IK: Do you have any new collections in the works?

SDS: Not right now but I have many ideas! We'll see ;)

IK: You’re a fan of IRs. Can you tell us how you use IRs and some of your favorite IRs?

SDS: I use IRs for everything. I absolutely love the workflow, the sound quality and the flexibility they offer. Being able to change a speaker, cab or mic on the fly is just incredible. I pretty much exclusively use OwnHammer cabs because they sound amazing and they have great options for cabs, speakers, mics and mic mixes. The Essentials are incredible but the new RockBox is right up my alley as that series focuses on various speaker types. They sound great with my Tone Models.

IK: Let’s go back to the beginning. When did you start playing guitar?

SDS: I recall hearing the song "Wonderwall" by Oasis on the radio when I was about 11 years old or so. Right at that moment I realized I wanted to play the guitar, no questions asked! It has been my passion ever since.

IK: Who were some early influences and why?

SDS: So Oasis was a big influence in the beginning because it inspired me to play and write songs with chords. Later bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden inspired me to take the instrument to the next level. After that artists like Steve Vai, Deftones, Dream Theater and Meshuggah helped inspire me to find my own musical voice.

IK: Was there a moment in your life when you made a conscious decision to pursue music professionally?

SDS: As soon as I started playing I basically knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Maybe it sounds corny, but it's just the truth.

IK: One piece of advice to players starting out on guitar?

SDS: Start on whatever type of guitar you want. Choose something that inspires you! Don't let people tell you to start on a classical guitar. If you want to rock, start with a rock guitar right away! The better it feels and sounds the more you will want to keep going!

IK: Name 3 of your favorite guitars you own and why.

SDS: My Gibson Les Paul Custom is special to me. It's just a beautiful instrument that sounds, looks and plays amazing! I also really love all my ESP LTD Phoenix guitars, I guess the single pickup versions the most. If I had to choose one I would go for my Black Metal variant! My ESP LTD NW-44 is also a workhorse that just feels and sounds amazing! It’s also a single pickup like that Phoenix.

IK: You have quite the amp collection. What started this desire to collect amplifiers?

SDS: Good question! So for years and years, I used to play just digital amp modeling platforms. I liked the idea of having many different sounds at my disposal in one single unit. Want to have a certain specific sound? Just dial some controls and you get an approximation of that. Then a good friend said that I should buy one tube amp, just so I could experience that again. Once I did that I got hooked and I wanted to have that experience of a modeler, but in real life. I didn't want to question my tones any more like "Does this sound like the real deal?"

IK: What do you look for in a guitar amp?

SDS: I like many amps, but I do prefer them to have a good high-gain channel at least.

IK: How important is gear?

SDS: To me it means everything. A lot of people believe that the music and songs are more important than the gear etc… and I know where they're coming from. However, I would say, whatever makes you happy is good. So if gear and tones make you happy that's also good! The ultimate goal of music and art is that it makes you happy! Don't let anybody else tell you otherwise!

IK: What would your desert island rig look like? You can only choose 1 amp, 1 cab, 1 guitar, 3 pedals.

SDS: People ask me that all the time and I like the question! However, I don't know how to answer it. There's a reason why I have so many amps haha! Perhaps let me model all my amps with TONEX and let me bring a solid-state power amp?

IK: You have a successful YouTube channel. How did you get into making YouTube videos?

SDS: It all started with me uploading sound clips. Then I realized that I wanted to go to a platform where I could reach a broader audience and adding imagery was appealing to me as well. So YouTube was an obvious choice.

IK: You demo a lot of gear. What’s your approach to creating gear reviews on your channel?

SDS: I find it important that I make the videos in a way that suits my own personal style. It's not only an outlet for reviews and comparisons etc…, but my channel is also my primary creative outlet. So even though a video might be a gear review, I also want to put some killer music and riffs in there so that people can enjoy my videos on multiple levels. Hopefully, my viewers find my videos both enjoyable and interesting at the same time.

IK: You create some amazing riffs on your YouTube channel. How do you come up with ideas? What does your writing process look like?

SDS: Thank you! In the past years, I've learned to basically let all of my musical ideas flow from my head. So a lot of grooves and riffs that I write come from my head without even touching the guitar. I try to have as few barriers as possible between my mind and the music, so I try to avoid judgment of my ideas. If an idea excites me, that's good enough and then I pursue it!

IK: Are we going to see an album anytime soon?

SDS: Well, I don't know to be honest. Right now I feel quite comfortable putting most of my music in my videos. However, I do have a project called GhostHour with an amazing singer (Sven) and you can listen to our songs on all major platforms. We will release more songs in the future and I'm quite excited about that project!

IK: Where do you see guitar gear going? Any predictions?

SDS: I obviously love modeling and TONEX's capture tech. Maybe we will see that evolve even more. I'm always up for improving tech. However, I hope we never get rid of tube amps, otherwise, we wouldn't have anything to model right?!

IK: Anything we can expect to see in the future? Projects? Videos?

SDS: I have many plans for cool videos! Subscribe to stay up to date! :)


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