The UAFX amp pedals face off against their real life, vintage counterparts: can they cut it?

We're already seeing the new Universal Audio UAFX Woodrow '55, Ruby Top Boost '63 & Dream '65 amp pedals in shootouts against the likes of the Strymon Iridium, Walrus Audio ACS1 and HX Stomp… but they're modelling pedals. What about the real guitar amps they're based on? 

YouTuber and session pro Rhett Shull has now gone to town in a bid to find out how close these three pedals can get by lining up a trio of real vintage amps: a 1955 Fender Tweed, 1963 Vox AC30 and 1965 Fender Deluxe.

Universal Audio UAFX Guitar Amp Emulators

(Image credit: Universal Audio)

Some caveats; the video is sponsored by Universal Audio. And vintage amps can vary to a surprising degree between examples. But Shull is a player first, not a salesman. And as he rolls into Sunset Sound's legendary Studio 2 in LA, he's looking to do this test right.

And that means bringing in UA design and amp guru James Santiago, along with Shull's peers Tim Pierce, Mateus Asato and even Rick Beato. All great players, and if you like getting geeky about tone, this is a real treat.  

Santiago loves his work, and it shines through in these pedals. But he's also a stickler for detail in this comparison. It's also a reminder of just why the original three amps are held in such high acclaim; they really do sound great. But in their eras, there wasn't a lot of choice. And certainly nothing close to what we have now. Nevertheless their tones still have a massive draw for players. 

So what's the conclusion? It's a superb video. We learn a lot about what makes these amps appeal to players. In a world of 21st century tone options, there's still something to be said for finding your home with one amp. And it really is hard to tell the pedals from the amps here. Indeed, in a blind test sat in the mixing room Asato can't tell the difference between the '65 Dream and the real thing. 

Check out Rhett Shull's YouTube channel

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.