versatile, low-wattage tube amps
are your thing.
you need more power and foot-
Street $279 (head), $259 (2x12 cab)
or use a mobile device to download
audio clips of the amp at
After playing with different Depth and Watts settings, I noticed the effect of the Depth
knob was much more noticeable at higher wattages—due, no doubt, to the increased headroom that allowed the lower frequencies to shine through. In general, though, the amp had
a considerable amount of boom and bloom in the lower spectrum. With Depth cranked,
the Tone control proved its true worth: It was very effective at adding definition to the amp’s
muscular foundation, and it went from smooth, jazzy tones with subtle upper mids in the
most counterclockwise position to crisp, biting rhythm tones perfect for country playing at
the opposite end of its range.
The Texture switch had a rather understated effect on Clean-channel tones. Its high-end
roll off wasn’t all that noticeable until I activated the channel’s Boost mode, which added grit
to the tone. In the middle position, the Texture switch not only let the high end through
unrestrained, but added a considerable amount of volume and punch that was surprising to
hear from a 6-watt amp.
Heavy Metal Thunder
With my Les Paul tuned up and ready to roll, I plugged into the Ultra channel and reset the
controls to noon. In this configuration, the Ultra sounded very reminiscent of an old Fender
Champ, with a somewhat honky midrange that barked with a vintage feel and impressive detail.
The Texture seemed like it was designed for this channel, as it
had a much more perceptible effect there than on the Clean channel. Moving from far left to far right rolled off more high end,
but seemed to add more midrange, as well. A dedicated midrange
knob would have been a nice addition to really dial in the tone at
this point, but getting great tones with the amp’s minimal controls
was a snap regardless.
The Special 6 Ultra was certainly capable of producing more
than just Champ-like classic-rock tones. After maxing the Ultra
control and activating the boost function, I was startled at the
immense amount of liquid gain pouring out of the amp’s speakers. I
unleashed ’80s hard-rock tones with ease, though I had to keep the
Ultra below 3 o’clock to keep the tones warm. Higher Ultra settings
resulted in an almost solid-state-like high end that was less pleasant
to my ears but that some players might like for metal riffing.
The Special 6 Ultra crams a whole lot of tone and flexibility in
a compact, affordable amp. There were moments where I felt a
Midrange control and footswitchable channels would have been
handy, but additional bells and whistles would take away from the
Special 6 line’s core ideal—simplicity reigns supreme. The fact that
VHT has promoted the amp as mod-friendly is a nice tip of the hat
to the DIY community, and they deserve props for that. And it’s
quite refreshing to see a major amplifier company pay special attention to the growing modding community that shows their love of
guitar gear through their soldering irons and inquisitive attitudes.
But as a standalone unit, the Special 6 Ultra excels. With killer,
easy-to-dial-in tones and a price that’s less than many high-end
pedals, it won’t be surprising if this amp becomes ubiquitous in
studios and on stages everywhere.