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 Verdict
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.

Watch the video review:

Buy if...
versatile, low-wattage tube amps are your thing.
Skip if...
you need more power and footswitchable channels.

Street $279 (head), $259 (2x12 cab) - VHT Amplification - vhtamp.com