VHT Special 6 Guitar Amp Review

Behold, the mother of quality amp manufacturing: hand-wired valves. The VHT Special 6 is a hand-wired guitar amplifier series. In particular, you might be looking for the guitar head & cabinet; or the combo amplifier. 

We’re talking about both options in this article, as they share similar threads. In specific, we’re looking at hand-wired valve guitar amplifiers at lovely price points.

As such, they present themselves as no-nonsense solutions with no frills. Let’s see how these amplifiers stack their qualities and review how much value they add -for the price.

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VHT guitar stacks” by fvancini / CC BY 2.0 VHT builds amp heads, combos, and cabinets. They also craft guitar pedals and accessories. They consider themselves as an affordable “boutique” brand

We’ve already covered everything there’s to know about tubular guitar amps. As a short summary, these are “vintage” amplifiers that use vacuum tubes to handle the preamp and output. 

As a result, the sound comes out more natural, extra powerful, and with increased dynamic range and more vintage sounding than solid-state amps.

VHT Special 6 Amp Series 

The Special 6 lineup shares features among its four members. As part of the series, there’s a combo amp, an “Ultra” Combo amp, an amp head, and a cabinet.

We’re leaving the head “Ultra” version out of the review, though, as it has not been available for quite some time. 

Either way, these models share characteristics. In particular, we’re looking at mini tubular amplifiers with hand-wired circuits, gain boost and simple layouts. They sell for mid-level prices, albeit the regular head amp model is a budget item. 

These are compact and affordable recording and practice amps. Because of their tubular nature and handcrafting process, the sound they create lives to professional standards. 

Hand-wired tube guitar amps for low prices seem too good to be true. Entry-level tube amps tend to be disposable, which is why the VHT Special 6 name has been making such an impact.

Despite not “budget,” their affordable prices certainly don’t speak for the “boutique” sound coming out of its speakers.

The VHT 6 is available as a separate head and 1×12 closed-back cabinet combo; or a 1×10 open-back combo amplifier. The “Ultra” versions carry some extra features for a price bump.

Special 6 models come with decent speakers, quality MDF materials, hand-jointed Baltic plywood, and labor-intensive hand-wiring. 

Lastly, these are mod-friendly amplifiers because of the type of board they have. That means you can easily change the tubes and speakers for better quality modes. Alternatively, you can change the pieces to make the amplifier work with other instruments such as keyboards or ukuleles


If you’re a guitar nerd, you’ll probably want to tweak these amps as they come with a drawback. They are made in China, which means their parts (speakers and tubes) are not the best in the market. 

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VHT Special 6 Combo Overview

The Special 6 combo gets its vintage sound from a 12AX7 preamp vacuum tube plus a 6V6 output tube. The mix delivers a warm, crisp, and somehow mellow sound. 

It has 6 watts of power plus a Low Power / High Power toggle to modify the output’s strength. 

The Low mode enhances the low-end notes’ volume. In contrast, the high mode increases the treble volume for extra richness. That’s a handy feature for guitar recording, home practice. Moreover, the High Power mode gives your guitar sufficient power to rehearse with your bandmates and compete against the drummer. 

As for knobs, it has a Tone knob and a Volume knob. You can tab the Volume knob up to engage the amp’s overdrive. If you plug the included footswitch, you get the Gain Boost feature to expand its tone range. Keep in mind that this is the same feature you can engage with the volume knob.

On the back, you’ll see three speaker outputs with different Ohms (4,8, and 16). It gives you extra options to pair the amp with sound systems or audio devices like mixers

Also,  it’s a closed-back cabinet. However, the backside features tolex, a waterproof vinyl material, to increase the sound resonance towards the back and the sides. 

Overall, the amp sounds boutique right from the get-go. It excels on both its clean and light overdriven tones. 

The extra footswitch allows you to toggle between clean rhythm guitar to crunchy leads. That turns the amp into a two-channel device with a simple interface.


Model VHT AV-SP1-6 Special 6 Combo
Configuration Tubular amplifier combo (closed-back)
Output 6 watts
Preamp vacuum tube 1 x 12AX7
Output vacuum tube 1 x 6V6
Switches High Power,  Low Power & Stand-by
Inputs High & Low
Controls Tone knob & Volume knob with pull boost
Speaker 1 X 12’’ VHT High Sensitivity Speaker
Footswitch (included) Gain boost 
Extra feature Mod-friendly board & hand-wired circuits

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VHT Special 6 Combo Ultra Overview

The “Ultra” version ships with some tasty extras compared to the regular model. It’s also expensive, and so bear in mind that it doesn’t represent significant tonal changes. 

Unlike the model before, it comes with Clean & Ultra inputs. The “Ultra” input sounds crunchier and more aggressive, but it can add plenty of dirt and noise with single-coils.

A quick glimpse of its top panel reveals some extra knobs. That eliminates the ease-of-use of the VHT Special 6 Combo but adds versatility.

The control knobs are:

  • Watts: you may attenuate the wattage of the amp. By default, it comes as a 6 watts amp, but you can lower its overall output for quieter circumstances.
  • Depth: it’s a unique control that modifies the low-frequency depth. It allows you to craft the amp’s voice at the lower end of the frequency, which helps to suit a wide range of single-coils, P-90s, and humbuckers alike. 
  • Tone: it does as usual, with no extra options
  • Volume: the volume knob comes with the same push/pull configuration. You can push the button for the boost setting.
  • Ultra: it punches the “crunch” when using the ultra input.

Additionally, it has a texture switch on the top panel that works as a filter to make your guitar’s signal tidier. 

With its Gain Boost, the VHT Special 6 Ultra can dominate the mids with a gristly and vintage crunch. On top of that, you can lower the wattage at any time while retaining the same texture, overdrive, and dynamics. 

The rear panel also delivers a couple of extra features. First, it has an effects loop output to connect your guitar pedals after the amp on the signal chain. It’s an all-tube buffered output. 

There’s also a line out you could use to plug headphones for silent practice.

Lastly, it has two speaker outputs, which would allow you to create a stereo sound. 

The rest is the same, including the foot-switchable boost, the High/Low toggle, and the mod-friendly board.


Model VHT AV-SP1-6U Special 6 Ultra Combo
Configuration Tubular amplifier combo (closed-back)
Output 6 watts
Preamp vacuum tube 1 x 12AX7
Output vacuum tube 1 x 6V6
Switches High Power,  Low Power & Stand-by
Inputs Clean & Ultra inputs
Controls Watts, Depth, Texture, Tone, Volume (with boost) & Ultra
Speaker 1 X 12’’ VHT ChromeBack
Footswitch (included) Gain boost 
Extra features Mod-friendly board, hand-wired circuits & Tube Driven Effects Loop

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VHT Special 6 Head Overview

Amplifier heads tend to be expensive and items for people with no money problems. The VHT Special 6 Head doesn’t follow that rule, though, as it’s a budget item that still features the same hand-wired circuitry. 

It’s even one of the cheapest amp heads available in the market, and there are many reasons in its favor.

Much like the regular combo model, the VHT Special 6 is also a relatively simple model. More specifically, it features two knobs (volume & tone) plus a hi/low toggle to modify the head’s power. Plus, it repeats the pull option on the volume knob to boost the amp’s volume.

You may have probably figured out that the “Special 6” name comes from the wattage. Surely enough, this amp head comes with 6 watts of power as well, plus its 6V6/12AX7 combo. 

Buying the Special 6 head also gives you an additional footswitch. As before, you can use the extra gear to engage the gain boost and turn the head amp into a two-channel configuration.

On the back, you get the 4/8/16 Ohm speaker outputs for proper attenuation.

Model VHT AV-SP-6H
Configuration Tubular amplifier head 
Output 6 watts
Preamp vacuum tube 1 x 12AX7
Output vacuum tube 1 x 6V6
Switches High Power,  Low Power & Stand-by
Inputs Hi & Low
Controls Tone & volume with pull boost
Speaker 1 X 10’’ VHT High Sensitivity Speaker
Footswitch (included) Gain boost 
Extra features Mod-friendly board & hand-wired circuits

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VHT Special 6 Cabinet Overview

The price for the cabinet is unreal. We’re talking about a budget, all-tubular 60 watts model with hand-wired circuits. That’s unbelievable and provides the best deal out of all of the models in the list. 

In particular, if you already have another amp head and you’re looking for the best band for your buck, there’s no reason to skip the cabinet.

It’s a closed-back model with a 12″ VHT ChromeBack 1260 Speaker and quality construction. VHT assembles the model with high-grade plywood, and they use finger-jointed processes to ensure optimal resonance. 

At the rear, it features two speaker outputs. 

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The performance of these models is relatively similar, so we can discuss how they behave in a single section. 

In truth, the Special 6 is full of surprises. Still, you would need to consider them as high-quality tube amps with average electronics. 

Yet, VHT is not asking much for these models. The price only goes up on the Combo Ultra model, which improves the dual knob configuration. You could still prefer the simpler models, though, as straightforward amps give you more opportunities to explore the guitar and the pedals instead. 

You have to understand VHT cut the features to deliver the most genuine tubular experience an affordable price tag can afford. If you know how to turn a tube amp in your favor, you won’t have any issue with these amplifiers. 

The hi/low switch is the core option of the amplifiers. It allows you to get the most out of the tone. And when you turn gears into overdrive, the Special 6 lineup can deliver sweet and organic overdrives with plenty of dynamic range.

The footswitch is a perfect addition to the amp. When you engage the gain boost, it delivers a precise balance of power. That means both the dry signal and the wet signal start to break at the same time.

Then, the simple tone knob is quite useful. It delivers a fair range of sounds that accommodates almost any play style and genre. Metal genres are out of the question, though, as there’s just not enough power here. 

In that regard, the average electronics do no justice. These amplifiers don’t have as much headroom as, say, a Fender or a Vox model. That means you’ll lose the quality of the signal faster. So, you won’t be able to play as loud or as distorted as you’d want to. 

These amps don’t feature a lot of grit, so they won’t make your guitar growl. But for its six wattages of power, they introduce a perfect amount of dirt into the signal. 

That said, you can make these amplifiers sound like a crunchy dream. The clean tone is excellent and ready for the studio. Naturally, the cabinet is also prepared for the stage. Plus, the volume knob can clean up your guitar pretty nicely. 

Another outstanding feature is its mod-friendly board. Know-it-all musicians can improve these amplifiers tenfold with a couple of tweaks. 

Lastly, as tubular amplifiers, they respond to your guitar quickly and nicely. Whatever you plug into these models – distortions, flangers, chorus– will work smoothly.

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VHT deliverance amplifier head” by fvancini /  CC BY 2.0 The Special 6 lineup is not the cheapest available from the brand. However, all of their series fall into mid-level / budget segments.

All-tubular volume

The essential advantage of the Special 6 lineup is its pure tubular, vintage sound. That means it’s loud, rich, and powerful. Even the regular VHT Special 6 Combo can keep up with loud drummers. 

As long as you don’t burst into heavy overdrive, you can also rip the volume up and still sound creamy. 

On the way up, though, you’ll get some buzzing and rattle noises. Yet, it will never sound cheap or digital. 

The advantage is more significant with the head & cabinet combo. It sounds bigger, better, and fuller than what its price should allow. Its near break-up and clean tones can rival amps selling for three times its price. 

So, overall, the VHT Special 6 amplifiers sound much larger than their size. They feature vintage tubular sounds that excel at clean and light overdrives; and come with excellent construction. They are top-value goods.

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Tube amps from brands like Fender or Marshall feature extended headrooms for extra overdrive and distortion.

Drawbacks & Alternative

The low power mode may disappoint you. It’s not entirely usable for recording, much less for the stage. It remains merely as a practice feature or something you could use to explore your pedals. 

Also, amplifiers with a single preamp tube are susceptible to hums and noises. The Special 6 lineup is susceptible to hum at higher volumes, particularly when you engage the boost mode. However, it’s not a noisy amplifier.

However, beyond the three-quarters of the volume knob, the amp starts sounding like a clunky car. If you’re looking for a proper distortion, you’ll need to keep the volume halfway and use guitar pedals instead. You could use the Low Power mode as well, but you might not like it.

The low-power mode will probably deliver a rasping sound as the tone begins to break because of its valves. 

You can improve these amplifiers down to perfection by swapping their main pieces, though. 

For example, you can install a quality Tungsol 6V6 vacuum tube if you’re looking to take the sound seriously:

Likewise, you can swap the 12AX7 tubes for something with higher-quality standards: 

Lastly, trading its speakers for a Celestion model would go a long way in taking these amplifiers to professional stages. Sadly, the speaker is the priciest part of the enclosure, which is why I chose a good all-around model. 


No other hand-wired tubular amps are selling for affordable prices. The one alternative I can think of is the Archer TUBULARBK, a dirt-cheap 5-watts valves amp. If you’re thinking about an entry-level solid-state alternative, you could as well go for the TUBULARBK practice model.

Furthermore, there’re some cheap modeling solid-state models from Fender, Epiphone, and Marshall that might get you interested.

For example, the Fender Champion is a cheap, plastic modeling amp made for home practice and beginners.

Here on the site, we reviewed the Vox AC4 mini tube amp. It’s a high-quality hand-wired item selling for a hefty price -as most items of its kind.

As you see, it doesn’t have an attractive price point. 

Maybe you can check the Yamaha TRH10II, which we consider as the best practice amp available. It’s a compact modeling amp with an advanced engine that reproduces tubular voices. Also, it packs 15 amps, 3 bass amps, three mics for acoustic-electric guitars, and a flat mode to remain neutral. 

Moreover, it packs Hi-Fi stereo audio playback. 

Lastly, it features direct USB recording and playback with your PC via the Librarian app for mobile devices and desktops.  

In Summary

Why do I like the VHT Special 6 lineup?

The VHT Special 6 guitar amplifiers are affordable, hand-wired, and well-built tubular amps. Even with its simple dual-knob configuration, they deliver enough versatility to play almost anything and accommodate most guitars.

They have great clean tones and function until the near break-up tone. By that, I mean you can raise the volume or the strength of your strumming right until the point the amp is about to break the tone. It’s the kind of organic distortion only tube amps can deliver, and the Special 6 sounds rich and dynamic.

In high gain situations, though, they won’t behave as well as a pricier model. It loses quality and adds too much grain and hums. That’s the caveat.

Final Say

The VHT Special 6 is a good choice for your home studio, particularly the Combo model. If you’re looking for the vintage tubular sound but can’t afford some of the more prominent brands, I can’t see why not. 

The gigging alternative is the head & cabinet combo. Keep the volumes halfway, though, and rely on pedals like overdrive and fuzzes instead. 

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