Today’s market for guitar amps is full of awesome models. So much so that you can find an amp that fits just about any niche out there. Back when electric guitars were just appearing, the situation was very different.
Despite the lack of choice, those early amps did have a few legends among their ranks. One that is especially worth of a mention is the Vox AC30.
It is a box that shaped the story of Rock and Roll for decades to come. It is so iconic that Vox still makes them and many are still buying them for their unique tone.
Today we are going to check out Vox AC30 Custom and show you just what kind of performance you can expect.
Is it a time capsule of old school sound, or is it a modern take on a vintage legend? Let’s find out.
Vox AC30 Custom
Guitar players are a hard bunch to please when it comes to gear and tone. They are capable of engaging in bitter arguments about the smallest things. You could say that gate keeping is alive and well in the community.
However, chances are that you won’t find a guitar player who is going to turn down an AC30. Used by just about every legendary rock band out there, AC30 has built a very good reputation for itself. Its tone was warm, hard and uniquely British, which was something many could appreciate.
The model we are looking at today actually brings all of those good features back. Vox did the right thing and kept the core of AC30 the way it was back in the day. Even the aesthetics are spot on.
Speaking of aesthetics, they are about as iconic as the sound AC30 offers. Black vinyl finish and that diamond patterned grille are a tell-tale sign of a proper Vox package.
This retro look is a breath of fresh air in a world of amps which are doing their best to look different.
It’s a safe space for conservative individuals who are not ready to give up on old school aesthetics. As you can probably tell, this amp is a combo. It’s not small and it’s not light.
Then again no tube combos are really. The carry handle at the top definitely helps with moving the amp around although you definitely should rely on it exclusively.
When it comes to features, there is a lot to discuss.
Lets start with the basics. As its name states, this is a 30 Watt amp. Although that isn’t much by today’s standards, back in the day it used to be more than enough. Keep in mind that those 30 Watts are RMS.
The signal is pushed through two 12″ 8 ohm Celestion Alnico Blue speakers. Many will argue that Celestion speakers greatly responsible for the awesome sound AC30 produced.
Back in the day AC15, the predecessor to AC30, used Celestion G12s. The Alnico Blue series which they put in these amps today aren’t all that different. If you’re not familiar with Celestion, they are a brand that definitely makes some of the best speakers on the market at the moment.
Since this is a tube amp, we have to mention what kind of valves are hiding inside. AC30 Custom packs 3 12AX7 in the preamp stage while you get four classic EL84 in the power stage.
Overall, it is a fairly standard setup from Vox and one that many are used to by now. The amp features two channels, both of which have independent volume controls. The normal channel is your clean channel while the other one is what Vox calls Top Boost.
In other words, it’s an overdrive channel. One of the more important features is the 8/16 Ohm output jack in the back.
Actually, you have two options. You can run a cabinet out of the 8/16 jack and fully bypass the internal speakers, or you can run a cab in tandem with the Celestions.
Also, there’s the true bypass effects loop.
Hardware wise this amp is fairly straight forward. However, its true value comes from the quality and nature of the sound it offers. For starters, the cleans on this bad boy are just majestic.
They have been tried and tested numerous times so far by just about every legendary guitar player. Some of the best blues singles were recorded on an amp not much different from this one.
Tapping into that top boost channel gives you a raspy, British overdrive which is perfect for classic rock. One of the best things about the AC30 is the fact that it handles external effects just fine.
That bypass look is a thing of beauty. Being a vintage legend, I highly recommend running it with clean boost instead of distortions. There is plenty of headroom in there and pushing those tubes into overdrive is a blast.
Although Vox AC30 isn’t necessarily the most affordable amplifier on the market, it is a genuine piece of amplification history. Truth be told nothing beats the actual vintage AC30, but those are getting harder and harder to find.
Not to mention that owning one of those is a pretty expensive sport. A good one can cost you an arm and a leg. Fortunately for most of us, Vox was kind enough to keep their reproductions true to the original.
I may even dare to say that modern Celestions have a bit more vitality and bite to them than their vintage counterparts. Either way, whatever minor differences in sound there are, they don’t take away from the actual core sound AC30 is known for.
If you need an amp that is going to give you an authentic vintage sound, this is it. Aside from few Fenders and Marshalls, it really doesn’t get much better than this.