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VHT Special 6 - not digging it fully dimed...

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by bluesholyman, Sep 27, 2020.

  1. bluesholyman

    bluesholyman Friend of Leo's

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    I ran the VHT Special 6 fully wide open, hit is with a treble booster and varying low frequency roll off settings and its not doing it for me...

    It currently has a Genelex Gold Lion (russian) 12ax7 and 6v6 in it and it was somewhere between smooth/creamy and course breakup, but not in a pleasing way. Stock speaker.

    I love the cleans but was expecting more from the overdriven sound. Anyone else have a similar experience with the Special 6?
     
  2. Dan_Pomykalski

    Dan_Pomykalski Tele-Meister

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    You can try swapping different bass or treble resistors, but the Special 6 is pretty much a Blackface amp, so I wouldn’t consider overdriven sounds its forte (even though it has the boost push/pull). I like mine with the treble and bass on full and the volume dimed though.
     
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  3. erratick

    erratick Tele-Holic

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    I have a stock special 6 combo and treat it like a Fender Champ. Which it's kind of like but the one I have seems to be pretty clean even with boost on and a humbucking guitar.

    Dime or no, if I want distortion I use a pedal. I've used OCD, and sometimes a Klon clone.

    I also really liked the sound of it with a jubilee/plexi pedal, but not dimed. Not enough bass in this little combo- it kind of farts out.

    But the best sound is a Tube Screamer type or an EP booster (echo plex type). I feel like it needs a mid hump or it gets too shrill and it doesn't have enough bass to deal with it. Espcially if you are using a guitar with single coils.
     
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  4. 8barlouie

    8barlouie Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I was just thinking the same thing. That amp sounds best played clean.
     
  5. scottser

    scottser Friend of Leo's

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    Have you tried an EQ pedal? I use a ge7 with the 6's own boost channel to smooth things out. Its a loud amp too, sometimes its nice to hit it with an sd1 type drive as it starts to bite for that creamy drive.
    I have the head BTW, into celestion v30.
    If you want clean though, try it with a 6L6.
     
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  6. Dan_Pomykalski

    Dan_Pomykalski Tele-Meister

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    Agreed! Or as a “pedal platform” if you subscribe to that type of thing.
     
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  7. bluesholyman

    bluesholyman Friend of Leo's

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    Good to know - this is the impression I was getting but was wondering if I was missing something. I think I was expecting it to be in Champ territory, which is a great sound overdriven.

    Time to start rolling pedals....It is louder than I expected too - so much from such a small package.
     
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  8. Dan_Pomykalski

    Dan_Pomykalski Tele-Meister

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    Yeah, as I’m sure you’ve already figured out, it can get kind of Champy with the boost pulled, but it isn’t quite the same.
     
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  9. zippofan

    zippofan Tele-Afflicted

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    I put a Veteran 10 in my Special 6, and some NOS tubes my TV repairman father in law had. I usually don't run it wide open though, I'm not a gigging guitarist, just a drummer
     
  10. TequilaCaster

    TequilaCaster Tele-Holic

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    I set up my Special 6 up for loud and clean, and then use pedals for EQ, overdrive, tremolo, reverb, delay, etc. An EQ pedal is primary!
     
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  11. jimgchord

    jimgchord Tele-Afflicted

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    Not sure why guys think diming an amp is a good thing? Especially a single ended fender
     
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  12. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    For what it's worth, I had a single-ended Vox AC4-TVH and it did not sound good cranked all the way up, either. But it did sound great cranked almost all the way up. Some amps just don't sound good when dimed.
     
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  13. scottser

    scottser Friend of Leo's

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    i think this is true of the special 6. there is a lot of gain on tap but you have to crank the volume so high it'll blow your ears off. it's also very grind-ey at the top of the dial.

    there's lots of things you can do with the amp though - i find that the low power settings are less spiky on the high end but they boost very nicely with an EQ pedal at reasonable volumes. likewise the boost settings love an OD into an EQ. i'd rarely have the volume set past 2 o'clock and it's plenty juicy at that.

    i don't know about the stock speaker in the combo but a less efficient speaker 95-98db will have a huge influence on the drive character of the amp.
     
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  14. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Wrong amp I am afraid.
    It's a great clean amp and sounds best with an overdrive pedal in front of it.
     
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  15. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    It is a blackface Champ circuit. You can rewire the fixed resistors for pots, even add a mids control.
     
  16. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    One of the easiest ways that I've found to help Champ-type amps to sound better when dimed is to either reduce the values of the preamp tube's cathode bypass capacitors, or even outright just eliminate them. It's typically the latter that ends up working best, and the 5F1 didn't even have cathode bypass caps on the two triode preamp stages.

    ...The problem with outright eliminating the cathode bypass caps is that the amp then might not sound as good at lower volumes, when operated cleanly. So what I typically end up doing is making them switchable. Since they are both connected to ground, it's actually pretty easy to just add in a simple SPST to toggle them in or out.

    Since the Sp6 uses turret/eyelet board construction, it's actually on the easier side to play around with the cathode bypass caps. The stock value for both C8 and C13 is 4.7uF. Try dropping them down to 1uF (or maybe even a bit smaller) to mainly just boost the not so bass-heavy frequencies.

    Also, cathode bypass caps are usually polarized electrolytics, so be careful to wire them up the right way. And obviously don't play around inside a high voltage amp unless you know the necessary precautions.

    In all honesty, I've personally found that just playing with the cathode bypass caps is typically enough, especially if they can be made switchable. I did the same thing with a Blackheart Little Giant, and also made the tone stack bypassable. The only other thing that the L.G. needed was a more robust output transformer, but the Sp6 comes stock with a really good one.

    -----------------

    Almost forgot - the Sp6 'boost' mode basically disables the hardwired BF-like tone stack, by adding 68K ohms of resistance in series with the existing 6.8K 'midrange' resistor. The 'clean' mode simply shorts out the 68K resistor to ground. The resistor in question is R22. If you reduce the value of this resistor, you obviously will get more of the effect of the BF tone stack, and more attenuation (e.g. boost won't sound so out of control).

    ...The typical value of a midrange pot for Marshall-types of amps is usually ~25K, so you might want to start by simply lowering R22 to 12K - 15K, and that will give an effect more like having a mid control dimed. If you want yet more gain and less effect from the hardwired BF tone stack, simply go higher, at 22K, 27K, 33K, 47K, or 56K (most common values). Alternatively, you could sub in a (100K) trimpot at R22's location, and fine tune the 'boost' mode.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2020
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  17. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I own, have owned, and have played a whole lot of amps from vintage to modern, and there might be one or two that actually sounded good with the volume dialed all the way to the stops.

    Amps generally have a sweet spot on the volume control where they really start to sing and respond to player input. Most amps, in my experience, sound best somewhere around the range of 7 to 8 on the dial.

    If you have an amp that sounds great to you when it's cranked all the way up, that is all that matters.

    Like Duke Ellington famously said, "If it sounds good--it is good."
     
  18. bluesholyman

    bluesholyman Friend of Leo's

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    I tried that same speaker for clean playing but didn't get a chance to push the amp at the time and switched back to stock. Maybe it just needed to break in but it felt like a step back.

    I'll try it again with the attenuator and see what happens, if it seems better.
     
  19. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    IME, it's been around 60% - 70% of amps in stock form that sound best at some point higher than max. With some alterations/tweaks, I've been able to get 90% of them to sound really good at max, just usually with the caveat that they probably won't sound as good at lower volumes.

    I got a Marshall Origin 20 head a few months ago, and daggone it if that thing doesn't sound absolutely glorious when it's turned all the way up. And thanks to its tilt control, it can be tweaked to sound equally good for all types of guitars.

    The obvious problem with most amps over ~15 watts or so being run full out is that they are loud! I have a 5E3 clone that I'm slowly finessing to be tight and roaring when maxed out, and that's honestly loud enough, IMO.
     
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