Trusted musician and artist reviews for Vox AC30 Guitar Combo Amp
Based on 27 Reviews and 275 Ratings
edited about 3 years ago
Another member asked a question.
As a die-hard Vox amplifier enthusiast I feel compelled to answer d_foster14's question, "Is the Price justified?"
Yes the price is justified for the right model from the right year. While there are a variety of AC30 variants vintage and modern that do different spins on the vox tone (and I really dig some of the variants I've played more than the amps people view as quintessential Voxes), the AC30s to have to get 'THE top-boost sound' are (in order of tastiness) the following:
1) coppertop (AKA candy panel) JMI, early 60s (I plan to be buried with mine if my son doesn't take up the guitar)
2) grey panel JMI, mid-to-late 60s (if you are looking at a coppertop with the treb and bass controls on the faceplate then its pretty much the same amp as a grey panel so save a few beans and scout out a grey panel because only crazy collectors will care about what color the control plate is... even the grey painted speakers are pretty much the same as the blue painted ones from the coppertop period (some will argue) and even the RI blue alnicos sound fab once they break in... if the tone controls were added to the back of the amp, then your coppertop will be a little different and I have a definite preference in this regard)
3) black panel AC30HW2x Korg, current production (I would not sell mine to you, you would have to trade me something better and I already have a coppertop and don't really need a grey panel)
4) candy panel AC30/6TBx Korg, 90s (this is really a tie for 3, I only give the HW2x the edge for its reliably repairable turret contruction and spiffy 'hot mode', but if a PCB doesn't worry you and you want closer accuracy to a JMI for features and voicing get a 90s RI)
5) grey panel Dallas Arbiter, 70s (no tube rectifier, but that's why Brian May likes them, can Brian May be wrong? that's its own forum topic, right there)... I recently acquired one of these but it needs some love as it appears to have been on the road continuously since it was made without being serviced at all. To its credit it still works, its just beat to shit and sounds a bit unhealthy. Defintiely a 'firmer' sound than y other 2 voxes, but a different feel than the matchless. Once I work on her I'll be able to really get a sense of what sets her apart from a JMI and a reissue.
6) grey panel Rose Morris, 80s (multiple PCB facsimile of the Arbiter version... these AC30s can sound quite good and seem to be pretty reliable)
https://equipboard.com/jimmarchi1/photos in 4th and 5th gear porn photos you can see my 2 favorite ac30s, the HW2 and the recently serviced 1962 bass model (not good for abss guitar, just a fatter voicing, it came in treble and normal until about '65.... all front panel top boost models are normal though).... you will also see a photo of the 'JMI product' logo on the control panel. if you see an affordable ac30 with this logo then snatch it up, even if its in bad shape it will be worth your while to restore it. If it has a similar logo with the word vox instead of JMI then it's a crap shoot and you could be looking at 1 of 3 or 4 newer models raging in quality. If it has a VSEL logo then its pretty much made by vox employees with leftover JMI parts and its a winner... if it has no logo under the mains switch then it could be an arbiter, rose morris etc and you'd better do more investigating.
From Gear Setup:
Classic, loud, tasty, smooth
The Vox AC30 is a classic, versatile amp that pairs well with pedals and applicable to a wide range of musical genres. Investing in a tube amp of this caliber has elevated my interest in music while making me sound more professional. I use this amp for guitar playing ranging from loud, Foo Fighters type rhythm based rock and roll, to thin lead parts like that of the Front Bottoms and other post-hardcore bands. Overall, the best amp money could buy on the market, highly recommended.
I have one of this Vox AC 30s. Mine is 1965 reverb head and i converted to tob boost. I have 2X12 GreenBack AC 50 Cab that the head goes to cab. In the past i sold 1969 ac top boost. So this one is my second Vox. This amps are great sounding all style amps. EL 84s make the amp very recognizable in the mix and if you have write tubes you get nice "cranked amp crunch distortion" sound out of it.
A brilliant sounding amp
Though it is known for its brilliant jangle, it is a versatile amp that can get dancehall loud if you want it to, but sounds good too at apartment volumes, and can cover just about any style of music. Great reverb and that famous tremolo make it a really nice amp to play with and from. Not a really swell amp to move around. For one person it is borderline hernia-heavy. I loaded it in and out of my car. Once. It is not cheap but there are fine used ones out there.
Best amp ever made.
I have the Vox AC30C2X amp that I purchased used from Reverb. It sounds beautiful thanks to its Celestion Blue speakers and it looks pretty too. I also got the effects loop on my amp modified from true bypass to buffered bypass by Voodoo Amps, now it works great with my pedals too.
I don't think there is anything I can add to this. I use all sorts of things and I like the top end option. I can always dial it down. Plus I do a lot of stereo imaging and it is to easy to use a pair of these. For some reason I actually like the open back as I am not a metal player and know my role. Let the bassist play the bass parts. I have noticed guitars trying to go way too low with their tones. Which is cool.
I am not a metal guy but I love Dream Theater. However, I haven't actually heard the bass parts on an album "clearly" in over 17 years. 6 string 7 string. The guy is a beast on the bass, I can guess he is playing what the guitar is.
I might like the 3 pieces, Rush or the Police. But Why? Interesting bass tones. Sting with the fretless thing. Geddy with the aggression. Imagine how much cooler a band like Dream Theater might me if they gave the attention to tone as they do all of the other sounds. I am not complaining, merely posing a question for the universe. There are 5 virtuosos in that band, but I can only clearly hear 4. No one had every complimented him on his tone, that's all i am saying.
My point is this amp is great if you are a guitar player who want to be in a rock band with a 6 string guitar and not try and cover the entire 20 to 20k spectrum. If your bands is loud, you will probably ned a Marshall or equivalent, think 100w, go from there.