Price paid: A$ 1500
Purchased from: Private Sale
Features: The obligatory introductory spiel: This amp was made in England (not China) in 1993. It is a 30 W all-valve Twin combo. On top of teh standard AC30 model, the 6TBX has a few extra features. The 6TBX code in the model name means:
6: the amplifier has 6 inputs, high and low for Normal, Brilliant and Tremolo channels. It is a three channel amp then, by definition.
TB: this has top boost (the 'Brilliant' channel).
X: two of Celestion's revered AlNiCo Blue speakers (again, made in England and not China).
The amplifier has the traditional chicken head knobs, as well as toggle switches for ON/OFF and STANDBY. It has volume knobs for the three channels, two knobs to control VIB-TREM speed and intensity, two EQ knobs (bass and treble) and a CUT knob, which cuts the treble of the 'Brilliant' channel only. The amplifier also has a footswitch to turn the tremolo on and off.
There is no effects loop. There are no onboard effects. But then there shouldn't be. This is a simple amplifier. Anyone who is considering getting one of these amps probably has a decent pedal board setup already. There's no need for onboard trickery.
A feature that I wouldn't mind is a headphone jack. This amp lives in my room when it's not being gigged, and I like to use it to practice. But it's so damn loud! This is a problem for my neighbours more than me :)
I am a fierce opponent of the idea of 'tube watts' and 'solid state watts', but I must admit: compared to my brilliant little Roland Cube 60, this 30 W amplifier stays cleaner far louder, and sounds better louder. If I cared to turn both up to full volume, I daresay that the Vox would be louder. But I don't know for sure. But damn, it will sound better. // 7
Sound: I'm going to give this section a 10. This amp is, in my opinion, better than any Fender amp for clean tones. I tried the Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb, a Fender '57 Deluxe and a Fender '65 Twin Reverb amongst others, and they were great, but none matched the pure, sweet sound of the Vox.
My main guitar is my Fender Stratocaster Standard with Fender Custom Shop '69 pickups. This guitar and the
Anyone reading this should know what sort of artists have used AC30s over the years. The Beatles were one of the first bands to use these amps, and since then Brian May of Queen has built up his own wall of them. The Edge of U2 is also a long-time user of Vox AC30s. This pays homage to the sort of tone that you can get from this amplifier. When I tested it, I used my Strat and while a Ric would have been better, it sounded properly like early Beatles records, as soon as I plugged the guitar in. I was amazed.
The next tone I chased was Brian May's unique tone. I can't even try to describe it, but you know it. Now this wasn't so easy - I had a fiddle with the dials and it didn't happen easily for me. However, when I used my DigiTech RP500 multi-effects pedal, and added a touch of chorus and delay and overdrive, then suddenly my room was full of the Brian May sound.
This is a clean amp. It does clean tones, and it does a superb Vintage overdrive with a boost pedal in front. It's creamy and smooth and delicious. It's not at all harsh or biting like the standard solid-state cleans (save for things like the Roland JC120). With the AC30 and appropriate pedals, you can do classic rock, and you do dirty, dripping blues. It's simply superb. It DOESN'T do brutal distortion, but then it's not supposed to. It's supposed to be a clean amplifier, and for the price I don't think that there's an amplifier in the world that could beat it. That's why it gets a 10. // 10
Reliability & Durability: I've had it for about 2 months. I've gigged it once properly, and it was up damn loud for an hour and it never missed a beat. It's rock solid, the frame is strong and it feels like it's never going to fall apart. It's a heavy bugger - about 35 kg or 75 lb. Luckily the previous owner installed casters and I can wheel it around.
The tubes look good, although they're reasonably new so I would hope they're good. The only issue I have come across is an occasional tendency to blow fuses. I have been through about 4 or 5 since I have bought it. For this reason I would bring my Cube (as well as several spare fuses) as backup to gigs, until I have time to get the Vox inspected. // 7
Overall Impression: I play classic rock and roll such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Who, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and their contemporaries, mostly using a modified Standard Strat (one day to be a Black Strat clone). I have played the guitar for around 8 years now, and this, coupled with my Marshall TSL100 head and Marshall 1960A cabinet, means that I can cover any tone I should ever wish to try and achieve. This amp is superb for the sort of music I play.
Part of the overall impression is the visual aspect, and like a Marshall stack, it is instantly recognisable. That is a good thing - say what you will, brands influence people in the audience, and a shape like a Vox AC30 or a Marshall stack predisposes the audience into thinking that the band will be good.
Should this amp be lost or stolen, I would definitely try to replace it with the exact same thing. I would be lucky if I was able to, though - these amps aren't terribly common.
The sound is superb, the look is excellent, and with the exception of the fuse issue, I couldn't be happier with it. I love it and I honestly believe it's one of the best amplifiers in the world. // 9