Last night at 9:30 pm, FedEx knocked on the door with a new plaything: my Fryette/VHT Sig:X 100 watt 3-channel amp. I know that many of you are single-channel, low-watt amp devotees, so don’t write me off as a high-gain shredder wannabe just yet.
I was looking for an extremely versatile head that would enable me to get crystalline clean tones, medium gain rhythm tones, singing lead tones, and I also wanted to be able to get a great hard rock rhythm tone with tight bass for palm muted stuff. Oh, and I don’t want to have to use overdrive or distortion pedals. That’s not expecting too much from a single amp, is it?
Well, let me tell you that the Sig:X just might handle everything that I have just mentioned. It’s way too soon to tell, but I really like what I’ve heard so far. Many so-called “high gain” amps do one thing well, and that one thing is usually a scooped, swarm of bees-style of distortion. Forget the clean channel – that’s usually an afterthought at best. However, you can dial in a great clean tone on all three channels on the Sig:X. In fact, it would be really cool to dial in three distinct shades of clean, depending on what was happening in the set.
There are several switches and controls to shape the EQ on each channel, and it’s really pretty easy to shape the tone to match different guitars and pickup types. The rhythm and lead channels are designed to be extremely versatile, but they seem to want to be cranked up. Maybe that’s just me. This amp seems to have a pretty Marshally vibe to it, but it has it’s own distinct flavor to it.
VHT amps have a reputation for being very tight, almost stiff. That’s a good thing if you’re playing metal, but not so good for other styles of music. Steve Fryette decided to make this amp a little more tweakable by allowing you to switch between tube and solid state rectifiers. When you choose the 40W setting, the amp defaults to a tube rectifier, giving you a looser, saggier feel. The 100W setting chooses the solid state rectifier, which tightens the bass up significantly. It’s pretty unforgiving at the 100W setting. I should note that there isn’t a discernible volume difference between the two settings. Each channel has it’s own 40/100 switch, so you can pick a different setting for each channel. There are also a couple of controls shared by the rhythm and lead channels that allow you to specifically dial in how loose or tight the amp responds.
This will be my first amp with an effects loop. I’m looking forward to trying some things out, especially delay and EQ. Each channel has a footswitchable boost function, which is essentially an extra 12AX7 gain stage. Oh, and each channel has a more/less switch, which enables or disables a gain stage. IIRC, the clean channel has up to 3 gain stages, and the rhythm/lead channels have up to 4, depending on how you have the amp set up.
Anyway, it’s a bit overwhelming at first, and I’m still getting the hang of it. I haven’t really had much time with it, and I certainly haven’t been able to turn it up yet. I’m looking forward to the discovery process, and I’ll be sure to record some clips to prove the naysayers wrong. =)