Electro-Harmonix Dirt Road Special review

EHX reimagines the late-'70s “Mike Matthews Dirt Road Special” with this solid-state combo, offering more power and four types of reverb from its Holy Grail Max pedal

Electro-Harmonix Dirt Road Special
(Image: © Electro-Harmonix)

Guitar World Verdict

As a solid-state powerhouse with four built-in reverbs, the blistering EHX Dirt Road Special delivers sparkling cleans or stinging drive with tube-like gusto.


  • +

    It's a solid-state amp with a tube-like feel.

  • +

    Versatile sounds.

  • +

    Superb onboard reverb.

  • +

    Good price.

  • +

    Giggable power.


  • -

    No effects loop.

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Solid-state guitar amps tend to fall into two categories: your meat-and-potatoes “clean and dirty with reverb” bundles, and “everything but the kitchen sink” ones with amp and effects modeling. I have no problem using either type as of late because, frankly, solid-state amplification has come a long way from some of the sterile- and anemic-sounding tubeless amps of yore. 

Case in point: Electro-Harmonix’s brand-new Dirt Road Special isn’t an exact reissue of the late-'70s “Mike Matthews Dirt Road Special” – a rare 25-watt solid-state combo with Electro-Harmonix’s Small Stone phaser circuit built in – but rather, a capable 1x12 combo that builds upon the original’s design by bumping the power up to 40 watts and replacing the phaser with four built-in reverbs pulled from EHX’s Holy Grail Max pedal instead, making it a far more practical and gig-worthy amp. 

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Paul Riario

Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.