« Plus one for the Ultra Plus. »Publié le 03/20/11 à 16:29
There are three channels on the amp: Clean, Crunch, and Ultra. They are each footswitchable as well. Each channel has its own gain and volume control, and they all share the same set of standard bass, middle and treble controls. It can be somewhat difficult to dial in each channel with only one shared EQ, but once it's dialed in it was pretty killer. I haven't used the effects loop enough to comment on it. The reverb was nice... not too cavernous but also audible enough that you could hear it easily. All in all I felt that it was very well laid out amp and its modern voicing contrasted nicely to my Mesa Boogie Mark III head that I ran in stereo with it.
(The amp also has a really funky logo that lights up and changes colours depending on the channel you're on. Green is clean, Orange is crunch, and Red is ultra. How cool is that?)
As far as the amp's setup, It was fairly simple to do. The channels are laid out very simply. The clean was, well... clean. The crunch channel was akin to more of a Marshall-y vibe... think classic L.A rock gunslinger tone, very brown. The ultra channel was the highest gain of the three channels and it was kind of like the supersaturated modern tone that so many bands used in the late nineties and early in the 2000's. I found it to be a little bit tighter sounding than the Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, but a different, more restrained voicing when compared to the 5150/5150II.
I'd say the biggest hurdle I had with the initial setup was getting each channel to work with the shared equalization controls. The amp naturally had a fair bit of high end in the distortion channels... so I would turn down the treble, but it made the cleans then rather dark. In the end I had to compromise with slightly brighter distortion tones than I would've liked just to make the cleans have some sparkle... but all in all I was happy enough with the tones. I found that the rig took to humbuckers better than single coils, so that's what I'm basing my tonal opinions off of.
When I had the Ultra Plus head, I was using it with either a Basson 2x12 or an old Traynor 2x12. Guitar wise I had a Parker Fly Deluxe, a Warmoth Telecaster with DiMarzio Twang Kings and an eighties Yamaha RGX 612a with stock active electronics. Here's a breakdown of how I found each channel with my main rig (Parker Fly, U+, and the Basson cabinet):
Clean - Fairly neutral sounding channel. It had a bit of sparkle to it as you turned the treble up, but overall I didn't find it to be quite that remarkable. I'd say it was somewhat scooped in nature, so it lacked a bit of that midrange texture that I find so great. It sounded decent when I added in a bit of reverb... but most things generally do, so...
Crunch - I liked this channel quite a bit. It reminded me a lot of that classic L.A rock sound. Very biting and articulate and great for the Van Halen/Dokken/Loudness type of vibe. I found it to be best in the "loose" resonance setting which made it react more like a British amp. If you tightened up the Resonance and added a bit more gain I found that the channel worked fairly well for modern tones as well... just with a slightly more vintage flavour.
Ultra - This was definitely my favourite channel on the amp. It was extremely good for high gain riffage and soloing, but it was also quite dynamic and worked really well when I would roll my guitar volume back. The only caveat is that it sounded a bit too compressed when I had it in the tightest Resonance setting, but otherwise I quite enjoyed this channel. It was great for dropped D type stuff as well as a bunch of modern lead based passages. It compared very favourably to my Mesa Mark III as well... the pair of them made a very nice contrast!
Overall I feel like the Ultra Plus a killer value for the money. I think they're an extremely cool and underrated amp that are overshadowed next to the 5150s. The dirty tones were really cool, very modern and crunchy... and the Resonance switch allowed me to go from more of a classic voicing to modern. Like I said prior, the amp sounded killer in tandem with my Mesa Mark III head. The Mesa was more of a smooth, lead based voicing, so I set up the Ultra plus for more chunk and saturation... and the two of them blended together quite nicely. They're a real sleeper amp that can usually be had for under $400 if you look... I paid $300 for mine and I felt it was worth every penny. If you're looking for a well built, durable alternative to something like a 5150 or Dual Rec for high gains... give the Ultra Plus a shot for sure!
(For those interested, I did a video demo comparing the two amps a while back which can be seen here