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FDP Forum / Fender Product Reviews / Ultimate Chorus


FDPGF Michigan Branch

Feb 12th, 2000 09:37 PM   Edit   Profile  

I did a search in current and archived topics and found no review for this amp, although many folks had commented on it.

Several months ago, I decided I’d had enough of toting the tube monster around for one-night stands. Seeking something lighter, I wanted an amp that would give me as close to the legendary clean Fender sound as possible without the weight. It also had to be powerful, versatile, and dependable.

After looking at several different combos, the Ultimate Chorus was the obvious choice.
This is part of Fender’s Dyna-Touch series. These amps are designed to transmit player dynamics, much like a tube amp.

Physical aspects:
The amp is, like all Fenders, rugged. Although not very heavy, weighing in at 47 Lbs, casters are provided. Other features include on-board Stereo Chorus and a footswitch, which does standard duty as channel switching and chorus in/out.

Since this is a stereo amp, it is rated as 65 watts x 2, for a total of 130 watts. Sound is provided through two 12” Fender speakers mounted in the open backed cabinet.

One of the first things you notice when checking out the amp is a seemingly enormous amount of input/output jacks on the front panel. Besides the standard instrument inputs 1 (high) and 2 (low), we have a footswitch jack, mono effects send and return and stereo effects send and return. This leaves the back panel totally devoid of jacks. (including external speaker jacks, which will be discussed shortly). The convenience of having the footswitch jack on the front becomes apparent the first time you set up for a job. Both effects loops can be used as patch points for outboard effects, and in the case of the sends, as an output to drive a slave amp. One really cool feature is the that chorus stays active in the slave, so a stereo image is generated when the chorus is activated.
The returns can be used as an input to treat the Ultimate Chorus as a slave. When used, these input jacks automatically disconnect the pre-amp, reverb, and chorus circuits.

Controls and Channels:
This portion of the amp is a pretty standard setup. Channel 1 is the clean channel has Volume, Treble, Mid, Bass, and Reverb. One interesting point here is the equalization. Unlike a standard tone control, or an EQ with, say, a +/- 15db range, each of these are active controls, and setting them all to ‘0’ results in no volume. This takes a bit of getting used to. The clean channel is as clean as you want it to be, with the same clear ringing tones that Fender is famous for.
Channel 2 is the drive channel, and in addition to the controls found on channel 1, we also find Gain, Presence, and a handy Mid Boost switch. The amount of distortion this amp produces is incredible, but more amazing yet is the tone. Fender has come about as close as one could expect in duplicating a tube sound for an amp in this price range. The Mid Boost and Presence controls when used properly, can go a long way toward getting that ‘creamy warmth’ you look for in some of those searing rock tunes, but stay away from them for dirty blues. Kill the Mid Boost and back the Presence off a bit to get that Strat Sound.
You’ll note that a separate reverb control is available on each channel. In addition, both channels sport their own indicator light, so you know which channel you’re playing through at the moment. There is also a light on the footswitch that lets you know when the drive channel is activated.
The Chorus is selectable via a switch on the control panel, or as mentioned earlier, the footswitch. A light in both locations indicates when the chorus is in use. You can activate the chorus from either channel. Panel controls include Depth and Rate.

In Practical Use:
Like the literature says: “This amp is LOUD!” No problems keeping up here. If you need more volume, you should check into sound reinforcement. I find it sets up fairly easy, and the EQ, while a tad bit hard to get to know, gives you precise adjustments to fit the room.
The chorus is extremely lush, to use the phrase du-jour. The unit is light, and compact.
Tone is available on both channels, although you need to take the time to learn how to set them up. The distortion can sound a bit transistor-ish at first effort, but with a bit of tweaking should be able to please anyone open minded enough to try the amp out.

Rants and Raves:
The absence of an extension speaker jack is absolutely unforgivable. Each side is driving 8 ohms. I find it hard to believe that 4 ohms would harm the amps, but I’m sure they had a reason. This was, however, a sticking point when I purchased it.
I also have to question the wisdom of automatic disconnects for all pre-amp, reverb, and chorus circuits. While this may be a useful feature for slaving, it almost precludes the use of the effect loops for what they were designed. Plugging in an outboard effect automatically kills your EQ and Reverb, and eliminates the use of the Chorus. Once my tone is set, I sure don’t want to take the EQ out of line. Unless you’re running outboard EQ, plan on setting up through your instrument jacks.
On the other side, the light on the footswitch is extremely useful. It gives my feeble brain visual confirmation that I’ve switched back to the clean channel before starting “Wonderful Tonight!”
At first, I figured the Dyna-Touch feature was just another one of those bells and whistles we’ve all come to expect. After using the amp for awhile, it does do what they say it will, albeit not quite as pronounced as a tube amp. The amp will create a quick percussive attack, or soft and warm, depending on how you pick it. The result is a lot less sterile sound than one might expect from a solid state unit.
From a price standpoint, this unit is right in the ballpark. At $459.00, it was hard to pass up. I would highly recommend that anybody seeking classic sound at a reasonable price and an easy to transport package take the time to check out the Ultimate Chorus


FDPGF: In a NY State of Mind

Feb 13th, 2000 05:29 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks for the thoughtful and complete review telecast! I often wonder why ss amps are branded as tools of the devil, since they have many virtues of their own. Your review clearly shows the benefits as well as drawbacks.

My current performance amp is a 5150 stack, but I'm seriously thinking of unloading this beast for a combo. I recently bought a DSP Princeton Chorus for low volume practice and fell in love with it. I also have friends who swear by the Rock Pro hybrid amp series. Having said that, I'm not sure if I'll go with the Ultimate Chorus, the Rock Pro, the Ultimate Chorus DSP, or the Prosonic. These are certainly very different amps, but they all have the great Fender sound in common. I do appreciate your comments on the Ultimate Chorus, as they certainly will influence my next purchase.

Chris Greene - FDP Host


Feb 13th, 2000 03:30 PM   Edit   Profile  

Last summer, a bandmate was using an Ultimate Chorus. I think we both agreed that it is a killer SS amp. A guy could do a whole lot worse!

Nice review, telecast!


FDPGF Michigan Branch

Feb 18th, 2000 12:58 PM   Edit   Profile  

testing. wierd.


LaFollette TN

Feb 21st, 2000 10:00 AM   Edit   Profile  

I've got the UC amp, just purchased maybe a month ago and love it. I'll not part with this one. Especially for the price and sound.



Mar 3rd, 2000 09:06 PM   Edit   Profile  

so, this is not a topic about the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the ULTIMATE Chorus. sorry



Mar 4th, 2000 02:09 AM   Edit   Profile  

I may stand corrected, and a great review it was, but I believe the Princeton and Ultimate Chorus combo's do not have the "Dyna-Touch" circuitry as erroneously stated in the Jeff Beck featured Frontline magazine. I know many catalogs also used that Frontline issue and included both as having that. It would be a great improvement. I also have not seen any mention of the new model Ultimate Chorus DSP, as having the Dyna-Touch circuitry.Keep Jammin!!


FDPGF Michigan Branch

Mar 6th, 2000 08:21 AM   Edit   Profile  

Both the Princeton and Ultimate Chorus are part of the Dyna-Touch series. Check out Fender's website.

If they're not Dyna-Touch, then I'm REALLY impressed.



Mar 8th, 2000 12:04 PM   Edit   Profile  

I agree that your review is excellent. I bought a Fender Power Chorus, the obvious predecessor to the the Ultimate Chorus, new in '91. Very similar specs. It has a few glitches but is still kicking after all these years...I am admittedly "hard" on my amps. When I started to gig out more, I was a bit embarassed to bring out my SS to blues gigs where tubes amps (especially Fenders) were the norm. I bought an all tube Carvin Belair 212, my 1st departure from the Fender camp, to satisfy my tube lust...but my trusty Power Chorus still gets regular use! I can even put a mic in the clean channel and sing and play with unbelievable clean and loud results (haven't gigged like that but you never know!
8-O). I was totally impressed in '91 that Fender was getting resonably close to emulating the tube sound and response with SS, and I am sure that they will continue to deliver. BTW, I read in the manual that the reason there were no external speaker jacks was because a portion of the output signal was fed back to the transformer (?) to simulate the interaction tube amps have between the speakers and tubes.


FDPGF Michigan Branch

Mar 9th, 2000 03:15 PM   Edit   Profile  

Interesting, Stratopunk. Where did you read that? It'd be nice if someone from Fender R&D could comment and set me straight! ;^}



Mar 10th, 2000 11:20 PM   Edit   Profile  

I too have a "95" UC. After five years, I'll have to say it's a great amp for the money. When I wanted to buy a new amp, I wanted a twin, but my budget wouldn't allow it , so I bought my UC. It is super loud , and I can get some very good vintage sound from it . I only wish Fender had put tremelo on this amp. I call it my poor man's twin. good review telecast!!!


Salisbury NC

Mar 16th, 2000 01:06 PM   Edit   Profile  

telecast, run a your effects through the loop. Go from the Preamp Out into the pedal, and then from the pedal go into the Power Amp In. This puts effects between the pre and power amp. It works great fro chorus and delays.


FDPGF Michigan Branch

Mar 16th, 2000 05:56 PM   Edit   Profile  

I know. That's not what I said, or at least meant to say. When you plug into the effects send on this amp, it removes the preamp from the circuit. The EQ and Reverb get disconnected. So, you have none. For me , it's not a big problem, since I like to plug I to the input anyway. But, I felt I needed to point it out for someone who uses the effects loop.



Oct 15th, 2016 10:19 PM   Edit   Profile  

So what do people do for a line out with lovely little beast (bought one today). I would like to connect it to Garageband.

Is the best option to mic it? Are there other options

I'm not an expert!



FDP Data Goon

When I sin

I sin real good
Oct 16th, 2016 02:02 AM   Edit   Profile  

You're going to realistically mic it.

Everything else ends up being pretty noisy.



Oct 16th, 2016 03:07 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks, I understand this now! It's the sound from the speakers that is just as important as the amp's internals.

FDP Data Goon

When I sin

I sin real good
Oct 16th, 2016 04:39 AM   Edit   Profile  

Some of it's that, some of it's simply the line out etc on the Fender SS amps of that era aren't particularly useful for recording unless you like line noise.

Contributing Member


Feb 6th, 2017 05:58 AM   Edit   Profile  

Hummm, I have a 1990's Ultimate Chorus and do not experience line noise. The clean is nice on it, Reverb good after I put a 17" 3 spring tank in it and the Chorus is one of the best I have heard. Overdrive, not so much

FDP Forum / Fender Product Reviews / Ultimate Chorus

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