Total Guitar


A dream pedal platform?


Fender once claimed that the ’65 Deluxe Reverb was the most recorded amp of all time. It’s associated with crystal cleans, drippy surf spring reverb and watery vibrato. That’s all here in this little box, and it really does sound closer to the real thing than anything we’ve tried before. But while there’s a stock boost to add clean gain, the other two choices are based on popular mods in Deluxe Reverb history; Lead adds warmth in low settings but past 10 o’clock there’s a midrange ‘lead boost’ lift. The D-TEX is based on the SRV mod and adds the most gain; yes, it’s great for Texas blues.

Like the real thing, the Dream has the cut and snap to really hold its own in a band mix; we know because we tried it at a band rehearsal. And like the other two pedals, it’s valve-like dynamics really hold up to scrutiny at gig volumes. While it breaks up earlier than you might expect, setting the footswitch­es up as Preset/live on the right (voiced as a clean/dirty combo) then with the left switch activating boosts for both, you then have an incredibly usable range.

While we gravitated to the classic Oxford 12K5-6 12” speaker cab model for cleaner tones that helped the Deluxe earn its reputation, there’s a 1966 4×10

Fender Super Reverb cab with

CTS speakers to experiment with amongst the six choices.

Of the trio, the Dream felt the most seamless inclusion on the end of our ’board. But what surprised us was its drive capabiliti­es thanks to the boosts that widen the scope of the original amp not just for stacking with your own drive pedals but the Dream’s tones in isolation.

Let’s start with where we feel these three fall short; the lack of a dedicated headphone output is our biggest gripe. Walrus, Strymon and Blackstar offer it with their amp pedals and with the market of home players so sizeable, we are mystified by the exclusion and the Features scores here reflect that.

True to their vintage amp roots, there’s also no onboard effects loop on these pedals that could be an issue for some players wanting the flexibilit­y of where to place their own reverb and delays in the pedalboard signal chain. MIDI functional­ity is something UA declined to include on the previous trio of pedals, too.

But the strengths here are significan­t for us. These are some of the best amp modelling tones we’ve ever heard. They’re inspiring and versatile and they react like the real thing. We found UA’S decision to hone in on each amp for a deeper experience to be a strength for their usability as physical pedals. A mix of old-school functional­ity, canny additions with cutting edge modelling, they are relatively accessible ways to access authentic tones on amps that sell for north of £1,500 – and that’s just the contempora­ry reissues.

Each pedal offers clear strengths for us that could dictate the buying decision. The Woodrow is a much more affordable way to get authentics­ounding Tweed tone on your ’board; either immerse yourself in that world or bring it in and out as a vintage voice. It’s less of a Swiss Army Knife pedal platform and more for those who know they want that Tweed sound.

The Ruby has the most authentic modelled AC30 tones we’ve heard to date and that will be enough for many; a great portable alternativ­e to the real thing but could certainly be the basis of your ’board. But it’s the potential widest appeal of the Dream ‘65’s strengths as a clean machine, coupled with its reverb, vibrato and surprising versatilit­y in the gain stakes make it the number one choice for us if you’re making the switch to a pedalboard amp, and the best value of the three.

Now, we can’t wait to hear what other amps UA have in their sights for future pedals.

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