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VHT Special 44 - Questions

Messages
833
I've been considering a getting a cheap amp for a while now, for use around the house. I prefer "big amp" sounds greatly, so something in the 30-50 watt range seems right. I've tossed around some ideas, but what I really want is a JTM/Bassman or a Super Reverb. The Special 44 from VHT seems likely to be one of those, but I don't know precisely which, and that seems like worthwhile information. I emailed them and they said that they were going for their own thing, based on classic designs, but really dodged the question. They also told me that I could run KT66's, which seems points towards Bassman/JTMland, as does the 44 designation.

Other than that, what do owners think of them? I've heard horror stories from early production runs, but virtually nothing since. How's the reliability? Does the amp break up well, or is it just a clean platform? Does the VVR work nicely in the bigger amp? Would you go for a KT66/Mullard combo, or something else? What is the characteristic of the amp driven: Bitey JMP, thick JTM, bluesy Bassman, sweet Super? Any major concerns?
 

rambleon

Member
Messages
5,552
I've only run 6v6s in my two Special 44s (I have the head and the combo). I haven't played a Bassman in a while so I don't really have a good reference, but I'm inclined to say it's not really a Bassman clone. It's got a lot of controls so you can really tweak the tone but I'd best describe it as 90% clean Blackface tone with some Voxy chime. I play my amps with the boost engaged all the time, I think they sounds better that way. With the boost engaged and the volume about 1/4 of the way, you can start getting a little breakup with a medium output bridge humbucker. It isn't really meant to be a dirty amp though. But it's a great pedal platform and can handle absolutely any pedal. All in it's a very versatile amp.
The cons: The watts knob isn't very useful. It hardly works like it should, or perhaps it never worked in the first place. I have no use for it so I don't really miss it. This problem is endemic to the entire Special series, not just this amp.
I've owned both the head and combo for some years now and both required a trip to the amp tech for service after about a year. No trouble since. I play fairly loud in a loud band so the amps are under quite a bit of stress.
 
Messages
833
I've only run 6v6s in my two Special 44s (I have the head and the combo). I haven't played a Bassman in a while so I don't really have a good reference, but I'm inclined to say it's not really a Bassman clone. It's got a lot of controls so you can really tweak the tone but I'd best describe it as 90% clean Blackface tone with some Voxy chime. I play my amps with the boost engaged all the time, I think they sounds better that way. With the boost engaged and the volume about 1/4 of the way, you can start getting a little breakup with a medium output bridge humbucker. It isn't really meant to be a dirty amp though. But it's a great pedal platform and can handle absolutely any pedal. All in it's a very versatile amp.
The cons: The watts knob isn't very useful. It hardly works like it should, or perhaps it never worked in the first place. I have no use for it so I don't really miss it. This problem is endemic to the entire Special series, not just this amp.
I've owned both the head and combo for some years now and both required a trip to the amp tech for service after about a year. No trouble since. I play fairly loud in a loud band so the amps are under quite a bit of stress.
Neat! I love the larger, dual 6L6 Blackfaces, and don't have anything Voxy. I was told by VHT that the Boost is a partial Tonestack lift. Have you tried the amp with a boost pedal, out of curiosity? With it being such a nice Pedal amp, I might just get it and use a COT50 to scratch the at home JTM itch. Probably not the same as my JTM clone, but nice sounding nonetheless.

The Watts isn't a big priority for me either, but that's nice to know. Was the servicing too terribly expensive/big, or fairly typical, minor issues?

Thanks!
 

rambleon

Member
Messages
5,552
Neat! I love the larger, dual 6L6 Blackfaces, and don't have anything Voxy. I was told by VHT that the Boost is a partial Tonestack lift. Have you tried the amp with a boost pedal, out of curiosity? With it being such a nice Pedal amp, I might just get it and use a COT50 to scratch the at home JTM itch. Probably not the same as my JTM clone, but nice sounding nonetheless.

The Watts isn't a big priority for me either, but that's nice to know. Was the servicing too terribly expensive/big, or fairly typical, minor issues?

Thanks!
A boost pedal would definitely give you some good OD. The servicing wasn't major. Since it's all hand wired, I think some components were a little loose or too close and over time and loud playing, due to the vibrations shifted or were touching, which caused a weird buzzy sound, kind of like the power tubes were bad (except that wasn't the problem). I have a good amp tech here in Brooklyn who was able to fix the issue in a couple of days.
One more little quirk about the amp - the volume knob from 0 to about 7 o clock doesn't really provide much output, especially if the in-built boost is off. 8 onwards and you're good.
I think some people lose their patience with these amps because of their quirky nature, but I love them (hence I have 2!) because the tone is its own thing. People are quick to dismiss it as a Fender clone (probably because the special 6 and 12/20 are more Fender-like), but this amp is definitely different. I also love the VHT Chromeback speakers that come stock with the combo.
 
Messages
833
A boost pedal would definitely give you some good OD. The servicing wasn't major. Since it's all hand wired, I think some components were a little loose or too close and over time and loud playing, due to the vibrations shifted or were touching, which caused a weird buzzy sound, kind of like the power tubes were bad (except that wasn't the problem). I have a good amp tech here in Brooklyn who was able to fix the issue in a couple of days.
One more little quirk about the amp - the volume knob from 0 to about 7 o clock doesn't really provide much output, especially if the in-built boost is off. 8 onwards and you're good.
I think some people lose their patience with these amps because of their quirky nature, but I love them (hence I have 2!) because the tone is its own thing. People are quick to dismiss it as a Fender clone (probably because the special 6 and 12/20 are more Fender-like), but this amp is definitely different. I also love the VHT Chromeback speakers that come stock with the combo.
That sounds like it shouldn't be too big of a deal. Maybe I'll have the taper of the pot changed, to fix the weird volume thing.

I like quirky animals (sphinx cats), people (Steve Buscemi), and effects (Ring Modulators), so I'd imagine quirky amps would suit my tastes.

I'll try to find somewhere to give one a spin! Thanks!
 






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