Darkglass Vintage Ultra review

  • £300
  • €414

Darkglass gives us an Ultra version of their Vintage distortion

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Our Verdict

A superb and high-quality, but pricey, unit. All you need to ask yourself is whether you need to spend this much.

For

  • Wonderful drive unit with amazing tones.

Against

  • Expensive.
Buying options

We recently reviewed the Darkglass Microtubes Ultra, a superb distortion pedal given the 'Ultra' upgrade for those who fancied some extra tone-shaping options and a bypass switch.

Here's the similar and equally wonderful Vintage overdrive, which differs from the Microtubes in its slightly warmer tone but is otherwise just as desirable: your choice of which of these Finnish-made units to go for will be down to which variant of tone suits you best.

Two whinges in which weoften indulge when it comes to pedals are invariably related to a) price and b) over-generous tone options. The former is an obvious concern in this case: like all Darkglass products, the Vintage is beautifully designed and assembled: like a glistening chrome brick, you could stand on it all day and we doubt any harm would come to it.

"There's a range of fuzz tones, from brittle, barely crunchy sounds if you roll off the Blend most of the way and apply judicious amounts of bass, via warm tube grit, to the expected thunderous breakup."

Then again, it costs £300, three times the price of a dozen other perfectly decent drive pedals that anyone reading this could name in about five seconds. You're paying for quality, of course, but you're paying a lot.

As for the tone-shaping facilities, there's no need to worry here: the interface is both simple and rewarding. As with the Microtubes, a Master volume controls the overall output and Level pot controls the output of the distorted signal alone, managed by a Blend control for the wet and dry mix.

The four-way EQ is wholly logical and the four three-way toggle switches – which you can see in the pictures – do obvious jobs. Even without bothering with the overdrive, what you have here is a very usable preamp.

Stamp on the drive switch, though, and the fun begins. There's a range of fuzz tones, from brittle, barely crunchy sounds if you roll off the Blend most of the way and apply judicious amounts of bass, via warm tube grit, to the expected thunderous breakup. If you're after eardrum-shredding beehive shrieks, you'd be better off with the Microtubes: the Vintage doesn't quite go to those trebly extremes – although it's interesting to note that it will deliver an excellent, glassy slap tone in bypass mode.

Stoner-rockers and doom-metallers will find the tones they're looking for here, and we can imagine blues bassists dialling up a mild crunch with this pedal too.

Experiment with the microswitches and let us know how you get on – but check the rest of the market first. You don't need us to remind you that just because a product is expensive, that doesn't mean it's the best for you and your tone.

Tech Specs

Dimensions107x42x96
Weight (g)434