REVIEW: VHT Special 6 Ultra

The VHT Special 6 is a very fine little amp indeed, which I’ve reviewed before and developed quite an attachment to. Any time I see one I remember those glorious few weeks I that the Ultra 6 was kicking around the house, and I get all wistful and nostalgic. It’s a 6 watt, boutique-style hand wired amp rocking a single 12AX7 preamp tube and a 6V6 in the output stage. The control options are pretty limited: just a single tone pot, a volume control with a gain boost, and a low/high power switch. One of VHT’s goals with that amp is to make something simple to serve as a platform for modders to work their magic on its minimal circuit. And it worked. If you go online you’ll find all sorts of mods for the Special 6. Different speakers, upgraded caps, bright switches, gain mods… it’s a tinkerer’s dream.

But y’know who else wanted to tinker with the Special 6?


Think of the VHT Special 6 Ultra as a factory-modded Special 6. Read More …

NEWS: VHT Standard 12 combo

This looks like cool news for anyone who feared that the VHT brand name would just be chucked onto pre-existing AXL amps after the latter bought the former. VHT founder Stephen Fryette now has his own amp company, Fryette, where he will continue to build the various designs that made VHT famous, including the Sig X and the Pitbull. But AXL seem to be very respectful of the ideals of the VHT brand name and the opinions of the company’s fans, as evidenced by the release of the Standard 12, a handwired, US-made combo.

Here’s the press release.

VHT is proud to announce the release of the first handwired amplifier from “The Standard Series,” The Standard 12. The Standard 12 amplifier is carefully handwired in the VHT workshop just outside of San Francisco, where experienced VHT designers are looking it over every step of the way.

All VHT handwired amplifiers are carefully pre-tested for quality. Extensive burn-in time insures excellent reliability. Each amp is given an initial sound test before burn-in and then given a second, more extensive test after the burn-in process is completed. It is then A/B tested to make sure that each individual amp offers the same level of quality. The Standard 12 uses 12AX7 tubes on the preamp side and 6v6 tubes for the poweramp. The rectifier tube is a 5Y3GT. The high-grade VHT finger-jointed birch cabinet houses a 12″ Celestion G12H30 speaker. All of the components of The Standard 12 were chosen to provide the ultimate in sensitivity and expressiveness to let the individual sound of each player shine through.

The Standard 12 sounds great for classic rock styles, breaking up easily as the volume knob is turned up. The Standard 12 also excels at overdriven blues sounds as it is extremely touch-sensitive and retains its chime throughout the entire volume spectrum. It does everything that a classic tweed-voiced amplifier is supposed to do. The Standard 12 has a very vocal clean tone with a powerful midrange and great headroom. Although the design goal was to capture a vintage sound, the Standard 12 doesn’t “brown out” like vintage amps — the low end doesn’t become loose and muddy — the 12 doesn’t compress to the point where the low end gets mushy. It doesn’t sacrifice a “crunchy” top end in order to gain powerful midrange, but instead maintains articulate, sugary highs throughout the volume spectrum.

The Standard 12 has that classic American amp sound with a warm tone and strong mid-range that really sings. It was specifically designed with simplicity in mind, for players who want to just plug in and sound great. The Standard 12 lists for $1,799.99 and is available now.

For more information, visit their web site at

NEWS: VHT changes name to Fryette

VHT Amplification, who have been cranking out killer amps like the Pitbull and the new Sig: X for more than 20 years, are changing their name to Fryette Amplification under Steven Fryette Design Inc, but the VHT name, resp will live on under the ownership of the company AXL, known for their Badwater guitars and cool little portable amps.

VHT has been huge this year with the success of the Sig:X amp, which Guitar Player raved about back in July. It’s good to know that despite the name change, the company will continue to produce the same amps, as well as new ones under the leadership of owner Steven Fryette.

Here’s the press release:

Effective January 1, 2009 VHT Amplification, Inc., will be known as Fryette Amplification, a division of Steven Fryette Design, Inc. Fryette Amplification will continue to manufacture all of the VHT models currently in production including the award winning Sig:X amplifier, Deliverance amplifiers and speaker cabinets, Pittbull Ultra-Lead amplifier, FatBottom speaker cabinets, Two/Fifty/Two and Two/Ninety/Two power amps and Valvulator I Buffer + Power Supply.

In making the name change, founder and CEO Steven Fryette states: “Much like a musician who finds his own voice, my more recent designs have really captured what I’ve been searching for ever since starting VHT 20 years ago. These designs represent my personal vision of how an amplifier can interact with a player in a truly musical way. We’ll be introducing the Memphis Series amplifiers at Winter NAMM and these new products exemplify the use of our patented technology, years of experience and commitment to quality all in an affordable format. For years I have thought about putting my name on a product and finally I feel comfortable enough to do just that.”

As Steven Fryette Design Inc., Fryette plans on continuing working with others as a design consultant in addition to building Fryette Amplifiers and accessories. “Earlier this year, I had consulted with AXL and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working with another manufacturer. In a surprise move, AXL offered to buy the trademarked VHT brand name and logo. They will now manufacture their own product under that name. The offer to buy was also an opportunity to rebrand the company under my name.” says Fryette. All of the original VHT intellectual property, patents, designs, and trade dress have been retained by Steven Fryette Design, Inc.

The web address for Steven Fryette Design Inc is