Go Back   UG Community @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com > Instruments > Guitar Gear & Accessories
User Name  
Password
Search:

Reply
Old 02-17-2013, 12:06 PM   #1
Yngwie#1
Registered User
 
Yngwie#1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Maryland, USA
NAD - VHT Special 6 Ultra

A few days ago I got my first all-tube amp, the VHT Special 6 Ultra. I 'graduated' going from a Roland Cube 20X to a Marshall MG15FX solid state days and never going back!

I'm really impressed with the build quality of the Ultra. It's a heavy amp and bigger than I thought it would be! Here are a couple photos of it fresh out of the box:



It sounds good with the stock tubes that everyone complains about, but I don't know any better never having a tube amp before. Soon I'll buy a replacement set of 12AX7/6V6 plus a EL34 to experiment with. Any VHT owner brand/model recommendations for the preamp tubes and power tube?

Thankfully my pedals sound good (including the 2 DIY one's I built) with the VHT. I hooked up my MXR Carbon Copy delay pedal (and Boss RC-3 Loop Station) to the amp's effects loop and works like a charm, despite some reports to the contrary. I'm pretty happy with it!

The date of manufacture on the back says 12-02-11 and at first I wasn't sure of the date format's year position, but verified with another S6U owner that it is December 2011. I haven't taken it apart yet to verify the fuse has been upgraded (to better handle high powered tubes) like it should be by now (see the VHT quotes below) as I'm not sure when the first production run ended. Here are replies I got from VHT about my initial concerns. They seem very responsive to everything I wrote them about:

Quote:
Fuse: "No worries, the fuse concern you mention was only on the first production run, the fuse rating was increased after the first production run, so no worries about using EL34 tubes and blowing fuses now. You are right, an EL34 will give a more aggressive Marshall-like character."

Effects Loop: "Since the effects loop is after the preamp, the preamp gain will greatly affect the level at the effects loop. So if you're plugged into the Ultra channel with both volume controls wide open (Ultra and Clean) the level at the effects send can indeed be too hot for some pedals. It's surprising, though, that some people are saying the MXR Carbon Copy can be overdriven to the point of cutoff, the new MXR pedals are expertly designed and should have been designed with enough front-end headroom to accommodate hot effects loop levels, and it's very likely that some people will want to run the Carbon Copy for line level applications, so again it's very surprising that it can't handle hotter signal levels. You might try contacting Dunlop/MXR to see what they say; if the Carbon Copy has limited headroom, they'd surely like to know about it, and perhaps they can offer some advice or other wisdom that can help clarify the question. But again, the effects send level depends on the preamp gain, so if you don't have everything wide open you're less likely to overdrive the Carbon Copy. There's a simple mod that can be done to reduce the effects send level. You can add one resistor in the amp, or make a mini-variable effects send attenuator with a pot, two jacks, and a small enclosure. This box would go between the effects send and the Carbon Copy."

Bear Trap Power Tube Retainer: "The Special 6 Ultra bear-trap should fit an EL34 without any problems. Most 8-pin output tubes have similar base diameters, but if a tube is a little narrower than usual, you can easily squeeze the bear-trap to fit just about any tube. But for KT-66 and KT-88 tubes, you'll need to remove the bear-trap. The socket should have enough grip to hold these tubes without the bear-trap, our tube sockets normally have a very strong grip, but if you encounter a tube with unusually thin pins, then it would be a good idea to use spring retainers."


Finally, my VHT Special 6 Ultra together with my guitars and modest pedalboard rig, see my sig for details:

__________________
Fender Malmsteen Strat > Boss NS2 Noise Suppressor > NS2 Send > NeoClassic 3080 Compressor > NeoClassic 741 Overdrive > NS2 Return > NS2 Output > VHT Special 6 Ultra Amp > Amp Send > MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay > Boss RC3 Loop Station > Amp Return

Last edited by Yngwie#1 : 02-17-2013 at 12:07 PM.
Yngwie#1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2013, 12:23 PM   #2
Remnest
Registered User
 
Remnest's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Miami, FL
HNAD! you have a nice lil rig going.
Remnest is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2013, 01:11 PM   #3
Dave_Mc
Chirp and Swirl
 
Dave_Mc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Northern Ireland
very nice

Just going by my bog standard special 6 (and also I'm assuming yours has the same speaker as the 1x12 cabinet) i'd swap the speaker before swapping tubes. depends on what type of tone you're after- what type of tone(s) are you after? LOL

for tubes i'd go with a JJ 6v6 and a tungsol 12ax7 most likely, assuming the ultra is on the dark side like the bog standard special 6 is. I don't have any experience with el34s so i can't help there.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by lemurflames
I had a Blackstar. I felt like I was lied to by Chappers, that fat ****.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathbard
Blackstar can blow me; dodgey ****ers.


Dave_Mc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2013, 01:30 PM   #4
Yngwie#1
Registered User
 
Yngwie#1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Maryland, USA
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_Mc
...for tubes i'd go with a JJ 6v6 and a tungsol 12ax7 most likely, assuming the ultra is on the dark side...


I've read that a JJ 6V6 sounds more like a 6L6? I was thinking about an Electro-Harmonix 6V6GT (similar sound to a RCA 6V6) that effectively is a Tung-Sol 6V6. They are made in the same factory. For preamp tunes I'm thinking JJ 12AX7's which have slightly less gain than most other 12AX7 brands and might offset a slightly louder EL34 as compared to a 6V6's output. The EL34 should give the amp a somewhat Marshall-like character. The amp is Class A cathode biased so no issues swapping tubes.
__________________
Fender Malmsteen Strat > Boss NS2 Noise Suppressor > NS2 Send > NeoClassic 3080 Compressor > NeoClassic 741 Overdrive > NS2 Return > NS2 Output > VHT Special 6 Ultra Amp > Amp Send > MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay > Boss RC3 Loop Station > Amp Return
Yngwie#1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2013, 02:47 PM   #5
R_Gallagher_Fan
Not RGallagherFan
 
R_Gallagher_Fan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Watching You From Afar (Ireland)
HNAD! Good choice.

Yeh upgraded the tubes then later the speaker. I didn't notice any difference with the tube swap but I did notice a good difference with the speaker swap.

I've had mine for about a year and couldn't complain about it at all.
__________________
Cort G260
Guyatone Twin Reverb
Like old Japanese amps? http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/foru...d.php?t=1591982
MY BAND-BAGELS
https://www.facebook.com/BagelsBand
R_Gallagher_Fan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2013, 03:11 PM   #6
Ippon
Amped
 
Ippon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Left Coast
Sweet! Congrats!

__________________
Who To Listen To EG/GG&A and GB&C .. 7/ERG Field Marshall .. e-peen
Ippon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2013, 03:24 PM   #7
Dave_Mc
Chirp and Swirl
 
Dave_Mc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Northern Ireland
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yngwie#1
(a) I've read that a JJ 6V6 sounds more like a 6L6? (b) I was thinking about an Electro-Harmonix 6V6GT (similar sound to a RCA 6V6) that effectively is a Tung-Sol 6V6. They are made in the same factory. (c) For preamp tunes I'm thinking JJ 12AX7's which have slightly less gain than most other 12AX7 brands and might offset a slightly louder EL34 as compared to a 6V6's output. (d) The EL34 should give the amp a somewhat Marshall-like character. (e) The amp is Class A cathode biased so no issues swapping tubes.


(a) maybe. it's definitely pretty loud and quite edgy-sounding. And from what I hear (don't quote me ) it'll survive in (most? some? ) 6L6 amps as a direct swap.

(b) i haven't tried the ehx 6v6, but if it's similar to the tungsol i'd pass... the tungsol 6v6 (the one i tried, anyway) was very smooth and creamy, and generally that's the opposite of what you want in the special 6 which is dark to a fault, stock (IMO). I never got as far as trying it in my special 6, but i tried it in my fame tube 5 (which is a glorified champion 600, so fairly similar to a vht special 6) and it was way too dark and creamy (and since the fame tube 5 is probably brighter than the special 6 i didn't even bother trying it in the special 6). unless your only aim is smoother/creamier/slightly less loud power tube distortion (the last of which shouldn't really be an issue since the ultra has a wattage control) I'd avoid it and go for the JJ instead.

The JJ isn't perfect- it's possibly a little on the edgy/trebly side of things, but the tungsol is way too far the other way. The JJ is slightly too abrasive-sounding; the TungSol is far too dark and creamy (at least in an amp which is already on the dark side). IMO. And bear in mind that I was trying to maximise the sparkly blackfaceyness of my special 6. If you hate blackface fender tones then you may well disagree with my assessment, lol.

(c) again, i'd avoid the JJ 12ax7 because they tend to be on the warm side, and the amp's already warm enough IMO (assuming the ultra is similar in that regard to the bog standard special 6).

(d) it's debatable how marshally an el34 will make it without changing the rest of the circuit, since it's more or less a fender champ with no negative feedback, but it wouldn't hurt to try, either (I never got as far as trying different types of power tube since it sounded pretty much exactly the way i wanted with the JJ 6v6). worst case scenario you don't like the el34 and you're out the cost of one tube.

(e) yup.

As i said, though- swapping the speaker should really be your first port of call. The speaker makes a way bigger difference than tubes, and will also arguably make a bigger difference in making the thing sound more fendery or more marshally, depending on what you're after.

As I said already- what are you after? We'll try our best to help to the best of our ability, but you have to give us something to work with, lol.

Quote:
Originally Posted by R_Gallagher_Fan
HNAD! Good choice.

Yeh upgraded the tubes then later the speaker. I didn't notice any difference with the tube swap but I did notice a good difference with the speaker swap.

I've had mine for about a year and couldn't complain about it at all.


i did notice a bit of improvement with new tubes, but the speaker made a massive difference. Don't get me wrong- it probably is worth swapping the tubes. but don't swap the tubes and ignore the speaker, kind of thing. if anything, swapping the speaker and ignoring the tubes is the way to do it, if you have to ignore one (because of cost, say).
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by lemurflames
I had a Blackstar. I felt like I was lied to by Chappers, that fat ****.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathbard
Blackstar can blow me; dodgey ****ers.



Last edited by Dave_Mc : 02-17-2013 at 03:25 PM.
Dave_Mc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2013, 04:32 PM   #8
Yngwie#1
Registered User
 
Yngwie#1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Maryland, USA
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_Mc
As I said already- what are you after?


Thanks Dave_Mc. I'd like to give it a Britsh leaning character if possible. Not that I don't like Fender sounds, I do, but I like that Marshall growl with Plexi style leads. One day I will modify the circuit as I study the schematic differenences between Fender and Marshall and DIY some feature changes. For now I'm getting used to it and not necessarily disagreeable to a 6V6 based amp. I love creamy smooth leads and crunchy rhythms with percussive palm muting. I want to hear what the EL34 brings to the table but don't really need increased loudness since it's used as a living room practice amp. My musical taste is classic blues/rock to 80's metal.
__________________
Fender Malmsteen Strat > Boss NS2 Noise Suppressor > NS2 Send > NeoClassic 3080 Compressor > NeoClassic 741 Overdrive > NS2 Return > NS2 Output > VHT Special 6 Ultra Amp > Amp Send > MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay > Boss RC3 Loop Station > Amp Return
Yngwie#1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2013, 08:54 PM   #9
Dave_Mc
Chirp and Swirl
 
Dave_Mc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Northern Ireland
ok, thanks

if you want creamy the tungsol 6v6 might actually work well for you without the increase in volume the el34 will bring. though as i said, with the wattage control it shouldn't really be a problem.

Assuming you want to keep the price down, i'd probably consider an eminence gb128. here in the UK it's the cheapest option for a greenback-ish speaker, but in the USA WGS might be no dearer (and are probably also worth a look).

you could also get something with a bit less in the way of mid-range- that way it'll still sound fairly british but the cleans will be a bit sweeter and more fendery, too. G12h30, g12t75, g12-65, classic lead or something like that. probably the eminence or wgs versions of those, since you're in the USA- eminence wizard, manowar and tonespotter respectively (eminence doesn't do a classic lead style speaker any more) and wgs reaper, reaper 55Hz and reaper HP (all variations of a g12h30), HM75, et65 and british lead respectively.

Out of all of those i've only tried the eminence gb128 and wgs et65 lol. i've tried the celestion versions of all of those, though (apart from the g1265 where i've just tried the wgs version).

bear in mind that it'll only do so much- a british tone comes from using a marshall-style amp with celestion-style speakers. granted the vht has no negative feedback and more mids than fenders usually have so you might get part of the way there. you just need to be careful you don't end up with something that doesn't sound fendery or british, which sounds somewhere in the middle and not really as good as either.

to be fair, none of the british-style speakers i tried with the special 6 really sounded bad, especially the less mid-heavy ones i mentioned. EDIT: i'd probably lean towards the g12h30 for what you play. to my ears and fingers it can handle 80s rock/metal fine, but is more vintage-sounding than the g1265/et65 or (especially) the classic lead or g12t75. a lot of people like the et65 with fendery amps, too, so that's worth bearing in mind.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by lemurflames
I had a Blackstar. I felt like I was lied to by Chappers, that fat ****.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathbard
Blackstar can blow me; dodgey ****ers.



Last edited by Dave_Mc : 02-17-2013 at 08:56 PM.
Dave_Mc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2013, 01:10 AM   #10
Yngwie#1
Registered User
 
Yngwie#1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Maryland, USA
Hey Dave what do you mean by "bog standard special 6"?

Yeah I'd like to upgrade the speaker to a Celestion after I experiment with tubes and learn ultimately what sounds this amp can achieve. Right now I'm using the Clean input (non-boost mode) and with my 'grey spec' clone 250 overdrive pedal. It sounds pretty good if this is what a Fender tweed is like and I like bluesy lead tones anyway. I have to start experimenting next with the volume pull boost mode and the extra gain stage of the Ultra input.
__________________
Fender Malmsteen Strat > Boss NS2 Noise Suppressor > NS2 Send > NeoClassic 3080 Compressor > NeoClassic 741 Overdrive > NS2 Return > NS2 Output > VHT Special 6 Ultra Amp > Amp Send > MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay > Boss RC3 Loop Station > Amp Return
Yngwie#1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2013, 01:41 AM   #11
Cathbard
Grumpy Old Tech
 
Cathbard's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Australia
Being a combo you may have some problems with microphonics but I'd still be tempted to try a JJ ecc803 in it. They have more sparkle than their ecc83s but will still have that midrange growl you are after.

HNAD
__________________
Gilchrist custom guitar
Yamaha SBG500
Telecaster
Randall RM100
Abbey Harmonic II
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
Cathbard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2013, 11:40 AM   #12
ikey_
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Raleigh, NC
WGS speakers. from WGS a variation of their greenback or reaper would do. brighter options are of course the v30 clone or the retro 30....and if you really want to get heavy they have some deep and throaty speakers....but fi you amp is already dark......

i would say the reaper (g12H30) is a pretty well rounded speaker. thick but not dark, good mix of mids, his, and lows. sounds "big"

dark amp you say? tungsol 12ax7 can help you.

and may i suggest an AB/Y pedal to jump the two channels on the amp? that plus a footswitch for the boost would make that amp pretty versatile, especially with the wattage control .
__________________
Carvin CT624
Walden G630ce Acoustic
Egnater Tweaker 40 Avatar vertical 2x12 WGS Reaper, vet 30
(crybaby, GFS tuner, CMAT Signa Drive, lovepedal trem, TC Flashback, PGS Trinity Reverb, Xotic EP Boost)

Last edited by ikey_ : 02-18-2013 at 11:48 AM.
ikey_ is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2013, 12:26 PM   #13
gregs1020
Hi mom!
 
gregs1020's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
congrats! man i want to try one of these.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by KenG
Yes Luthiers like this guy deal in historical accuracy details that you can't even see.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_Mc
good job, i'm just about sick of having to tear my guitars apart to put them back together with the right glue
gregs1020 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2013, 01:02 PM   #14
Dave_Mc
Chirp and Swirl
 
Dave_Mc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Northern Ireland
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yngwie#1
(a) Hey Dave what do you mean by "bog standard special 6"?

(b) Yeah I'd like to upgrade the speaker to a Celestion after I experiment with tubes and learn ultimately what sounds this amp can achieve. Right now I'm using the Clean input (non-boost mode) and with my 'grey spec' clone 250 overdrive pedal. It sounds pretty good if this is what a Fender tweed is like and I like bluesy lead tones anyway. I have to start experimenting next with the volume pull boost mode and the extra gain stage of the Ultra input.


(a) the vht special 6, rather than the special 6 ultra.

(b) with the boost off it's more blackfacey, i think (albeit with a fairly highly set mid control). with the boost on it's more tweedy.

what i was saying about the g12h30 though might not maximise how marshally it'll sound. something greenbacky is probably the way to maximise how marshally it sounds (though whether that'll do enough, even in combination with the el34, i dunno).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathbard
Being a combo you may have some problems with microphonics but I'd still be tempted to try a JJ ecc803 in it. They have more sparkle than their ecc83s but will still have that midrange growl you are after.

HNAD


that's another good point, while i think the JJs are the wrong way to go for preamp tubes, I'm not trying to make mine sound like a marshall, lol. JJs may well help in that respect too (at least a little).
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by lemurflames
I had a Blackstar. I felt like I was lied to by Chappers, that fat ****.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathbard
Blackstar can blow me; dodgey ****ers.



Last edited by Dave_Mc : 02-18-2013 at 01:04 PM.
Dave_Mc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2013, 01:04 PM   #15
Yngwie#1
Registered User
 
Yngwie#1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Maryland, USA
Thanks! I'm really digging this amp. Sounds pretty good stock but I'll try different tubes to open up its potential.I'm getting used to the 6V6 sound, more of a smooth growl as compared to a Marshall. My father-in-law says he has an old RCA 6V6 and some other tubes. I'm going to have to get those from him by this weekend. I want to see how the stock speaker sounds after it breaks in before replacing that, probably with a Greenback.

Haven't really messed much with the added Ultra gain stage (it roars) other than out of the box before adding my pedalboard so I can alternate between the Clean input stage and my overdrive pedal. So I'm using it more like a regular Special 6 but with the added features of the watts attenuator and depth/texture controls.

Has anyone studied the Clean gain circuit vs the Ultra gain circuit? Are they based more or less on any particular amp?

Overall I like its midrange feel. Besides my Neo-Classic preferences it puts me into a Neo-Blues mood too
__________________
Fender Malmsteen Strat > Boss NS2 Noise Suppressor > NS2 Send > NeoClassic 3080 Compressor > NeoClassic 741 Overdrive > NS2 Return > NS2 Output > VHT Special 6 Ultra Amp > Amp Send > MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay > Boss RC3 Loop Station > Amp Return

Last edited by Yngwie#1 : 02-18-2013 at 01:19 PM.
Yngwie#1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2013, 01:23 PM   #16
R45VT
Doesn't speak guitar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Traffic Town LA
Pretty cool.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeathByDestroyr
See, it's important that people clarify when they say "metal", because I pretty much always assume they are a Cannibal Corpse fanboi.
R45VT is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2013, 05:49 PM   #17
Dave_Mc
Chirp and Swirl
 
Dave_Mc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Northern Ireland
assuming the clean circuit is the same as the special 6 (i think it is but i haven't looked that closely into it) it's more or less a fender champ with no negative feedback. not sure if the ultra circuit is based on anything or whether it's just another preamp gain stage jammed in there.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by lemurflames
I had a Blackstar. I felt like I was lied to by Chappers, that fat ****.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathbard
Blackstar can blow me; dodgey ****ers.


Dave_Mc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2013, 07:36 PM   #18
Cathbard
Grumpy Old Tech
 
Cathbard's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Australia
I get a pretty nice crunch out of my Champ using a JJ 6V6. Great tube.
__________________
Gilchrist custom guitar
Yamaha SBG500
Telecaster
Randall RM100
Abbey Harmonic II
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
Cathbard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-20-2013, 10:15 AM   #19
Yngwie#1
Registered User
 
Yngwie#1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Maryland, USA
Five weeks ago I got my Special 6 Ultra and love it. So far I've changed my power tube to a '58 GE 6V6GT, from my father-in-law. The preamp tube V1 is shared by both the Clean and Ultra inputs. V2 is purely the FX loop tube buffer. The schematic shows this. So I was thinking what would be the result of using a 12AX7 in V1 and a lower gain 12AT7 or 12AU7 in V2?

In a couple weeks I hope to pick up replacement preamp tubes and an EL34 power tube at a local computerfest/radio electronics show and find out.
__________________
Fender Malmsteen Strat > Boss NS2 Noise Suppressor > NS2 Send > NeoClassic 3080 Compressor > NeoClassic 741 Overdrive > NS2 Return > NS2 Output > VHT Special 6 Ultra Amp > Amp Send > MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay > Boss RC3 Loop Station > Amp Return
Yngwie#1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-20-2013, 10:43 AM   #20
gregs1020
Hi mom!
 
gregs1020's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
you can pop a el34 in there without worrying about bias etc?

man i want to try one of these.


edit: on the V2 question, i'm not sure if it would bring just the effect level down or if it would taper off the entire signal somewhat. sorry - idk.

Last edited by gregs1020 : 03-20-2013 at 10:44 AM.
gregs1020 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:03 PM.

Forum Archives / About / Terms of Use / Advertise / Contact / Ultimate-Guitar.Com © 2014
Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.