Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 131
Ugly Amps Big Ugly 50 and 100
teve O'Boyle got his start converting
old tube PA heads into guitar amps.
Flash forward nearly 17 years and O'Boyle
is at the helm of Ugly Amps, building amps
with a growing reputation for great tone at
reasonable prices. While most offerings have
been low-watt models, O'Boyle is ramping
up his wares with the Big Ugly 50 and 100.
The 50 and 100 have two and four 5881
Sovtek output tubes, respectively. In addition, each has five 12AX7 preamp tubes, dual
fully independent footswitchable channels,
tube-driven adjustable footswitchable effects loop, Mojo Tone black tolex cabinets
Price: $1,200 and $1,250
with silver piping, Alpha pots, metal film
resistors, and Magnetic Components Classic
Tone heavy-duty transformers.
Control layout includes Power and
Standby switches, Presence, Bass, Midrange,
and Treble tone controls, and Master Volume
and Gain controls for the "Ugly" (overdrive)
channel. There are independent Bass, Midrange, and Treble tone controls, and Master
Volume and Gain controls for the Clean
channel. The rear panel layout includes
parallel 1/4" speaker jacks, a 4-/8-/16-ohm
impedance selector, send and return 1/4"
jacks with level controls, and a footswitch
jack for the included channel/effects twobutton footswitch. All rear-panel jacks and
the effects loop level controls are white,
making them easy to find on a dark stage.
The Big Ugly 100 was tested through a
Marshall 4x12 cab (with Celestion Vintage
30), using a Les Paul Standard, a 1960 reissue Strat, and a TC Electronic Hall of Fame
reverb patched into the effects loop.
The Clean channel on the Big Ugly has
a classic, slightly scooped tone with chiming highs, smooth even midrange, and
round low-end, as well as an abundance
of overtones. The channel stays relatively
clean and open even when driven hard
with humbuckers or single-coils. Overdrive
offers up a fairly big variety of overdrives,
from moderately crunchy blues to heavily
saturated distortion. Even with the Gain
control dimed and using the neck pickup
in both guitars, the tone never got mushy
and note separation was excellent. The tone
control circuits in both channels are very
well voiced without a ton of overlapping or
out-of-phase clutter. The effects loop, with
its adjustable input and output controls,
allows for seamless injection of ambient
effects without significantly changing the
tone or levels on the amp.
The Big Uglys are the logical progression
for the Ugly Amps lineup - more power,
more channels, and more features all add
up to great-sounding and versatile amps.
They look pretty good, too. - Phil Feser
TECH 21 DUG PINNICK DP-3X
LIGHTNING BOY AUDIO NUVISION
Lightning Boy Audio's NuVision Tube
Preamp uses NOS paper-in-oil capacitors and a pair of NOS Nuvistor tubes to
drive its gain and passive EQ circuits.
Its EQ has controls for Bass and Treble
along with low- and high-cut switches.
It's designed and assembled in the U.S.
Tech 21's dUg Pinnick DP-3X is an allanalog pedal with Mix mode to engage its
Drive to distortion, and Chunk for upper
harmonics. The Gain button provides
distortion and compression. There's also
a three-band active EQ with switchable
Mid, master Volume, chromatic tuner,
headphone capability, and XLR out.
PRS SILVER SKY
The PRS Silver Sky is a collaboration with
John Mayer and has 635JM single-coil pickups, maple neck with "reverse" headstock,
25.5" scale, Mayer signature 635JM carve,
and 7.25" fretboard radius. Other features
include locking vintage-style tuners, PRS vibrato, bone nut, and curved/molded jack plate.