Fryette Ultra-Lead Review
Here's my review of my brand-new 2011 Fryette Ultra-Lead amp.
Right off the top, the Ultra-Lead kicks ass. Overall, it's a great high-gain amp. I used to own one about 8 years ago, and this one sounds just as good if not better. Tight, tight, tight, tight, tight, articulate, cutting, razor sharp, raw, open, uncompressed high-gain tones is what this monster does with ease. No flub, loose bass chords, dark, spongy, rubbery, feel or overly compressed hard to heard chords running together. Play as fast as you want and hear every note… Wow! What concept. The note attack is super fast and ultra-responsive. It’s been said before, but bears repeating again, the Ultra-Lead is without a doubt the fastest, clearest, tightest, most articulate high-gain channel switcher on the planet… bar none. The tightness and articulation do come with a trade-off though... the UL is very unsaturated. For comparison an amp like a Mesa Recto or Engl Powerball is super-saturated. The polar opposite of the UL. The red channel has enough gain, different voicing options, and thick, huge, chugga-chugga-bottom end to cover any sort of metal from ‘80s to extreme black and death. It’s all in there.
The Ultra-Lead also arguably one of the best 3 channel high gain amp out there as well. Right up there with Diezel, Engl, Bogner and any other contender… except the Ultra-Lead is much more open sounding, brighter, more cutting, much less compressed and congested compared to the competition. The Diezel Herbert was my #1 amp for several years and it was great overall, but the darker, compressed tone began to wear on me as time went by. Also the Ultra-Lead is one of the few amps (the Suhr PT100 being the other) where I actually really like and can use all of the channels for my sort of tones. Often you’ll by a channel switcher an only wind up using one, or maybe two of the channels (ie Mesa Mark V)… not the case with the UL. All 3 channels sound great and cover different sonic ground. With the Herbert, I mainly used only channel 3. The second channel on the UL has enough gain, and with the graphic eq, you can dial in any sort of voicing from classic rock to most any sort of ‘80s metal and ‘90s alt-rock easily. No boost needed. Awesome! The clean channel sounds great… very bright, loud, chimey, and smooth.
The clean channel also easily balances volumewise with the other 2 channels, no big volume jump or differential when switching channels either… like on a Bogner Uberschall for example. The FX Loop has a series/parallel switch and a instrument/line level switch and is one of the best around. Clear, transparent, and not a tone sucker. One last thing to say, is that the Ultra-Lead is also one of the quietest high-gain amps around. Even on the red channel with the gain cranked it is super quiet… even standing close to the amp with your guitar volume pot open. Almost like a noise gate is there… but it’s simply the great design and layout of the amp.
I also highly recommend using the Ultra-Lead with the matching Fryette Fatbottom 4X12 speaker cabinet. I've tried mine thru several different cab/speaker combinations, and the Fatbottom cab with the Eminence P50E speakers sounds the best with this amp.