#1
EDIT: I've now come to terms with the AC30 tone, and am now just gonna stick with it, but want new tubes! I'll one day won a fender amp for the smooth tone i want, but for now, ill just try and get he best tone out of the AC30 as i can. So its tube suggestion time!

Warning: wall of text and epic rambling ahead.

Hey, i have a Vox AC30 CC1 (the 1x12 version) and it has a beautiful clean tone, especially when cranked, but i have a problem getting a good smooth overdriven tone out of it.

I play mostly bluesy sort of stuff, running a Keeley Modded Blues Driver and have a few guitars: A Classic Player Jazzmaster, an Epiphone Les Paul with Seymour Duncan pickups and a Hutchins Regal (semi hollow guitar with low output gretsch style mini-humbuckers) and they all sound great clean, but its really lacking on the OD side.

When at low volumes i can get decent OD out of it with my Blues Driver, but if i turn up it becomes far to punchy and not the smooth lead tones i want. Its not so fat and smooth, more brittle, too trebly (and i know thats what Voxes are famous for, the treble).
And the natural OD of the amp (cranking the preamp volume as opposed to the master) jut sounds a bit farty.

So what does it sound like is the problem? Do i just not dig the Vox tone? I actually prefer it at a low volume then cranked. Most of my favourite guitarists use fendery amps, which seem to have a smoother overdrive when cranked.
Or does it maybe just need a decent set of tubes? As these Chinese made Vox amps are infamous for the cheap tubes they use.

Ive had this amp for a few years, and chose it mainly inspired by my love of Radiohead, but my favourite guitarists and tones now are Stevie Ray Vaughan, BB King, John Mayer, Robben Ford, Joe Bonnamassa. Basically all the usual people known for the tones i can never achieve
Also more alternative stuff like Radiohead, Dinosaur Jr, Black Keys an Brand New.
Do you think i should persevere with the Vox, or hunt out a new amps, perhaps more 'fender-like.'
I should add, im at university and havent got much money, so i wold either have to find an exchange for a new amp, or wait until my birthday if new tubes seems like the best route to take.

Sorry for the epic wall of rambling text, any help or advice will be really appreciated! :]

Cheers!
Last edited by jaybals at Apr 24, 2011,
#2
you might just want to trade the pedal for a different OD. On a budget I recommend a boss super overdrive. I bought one for $39 at a local shop, and I love the pedal. It's great for rock and is smooth sounding.
#4
Turn down the attack knob on the pedal (i think it has one)
definitely get a compression pedal

if you like srv and john mayer's tone i can give you suggestions on pedals because most of my rig is setup for their sound and it does a damn good job
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#5
My OD doesnt have an attack, just gain, level and tone, with a subtle bass boost switch to cancel out the high end. I dont think its so much a problem of bad pedal, as i love the tones i get out of it when the amp os turned down, or on my Blackstar HT-5, its just when i get a chance to crank the Vox i have problems.

Cheers for all the advice, ive never been totally clear on what a compressor does. So they are good for smoothing out the tone?
Does it seem worth getting more pedals to find my sound rather than going the new amp route then? Would it be worth a tube swap either?
#6
Speaker change maybe? Don't know much about those Neodogs.

As for valves. A set of RFT preamp valves may get you closer to what where you are truing to go. You can often pick up RFT's on ebay really cheap because they are the lesser known German valve. They are darker sounding than most other NOS valves. They are the JJ of ye olde world. Darker like a JJ but with the clarity and definition of NOS.

Have you spent much time EQ'ing it at the volume you want to play it? You can't expect an EQ setting that works on low volume to sound the same at high volume.
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#7
i agree with a speaker change. i tested out a few ac30's last year and found the 112 didn't sound quite so good as the 212 so maybe try it through a decent cab if you know someone with one that you can use.
#8
Cheers for all the advice guys! I will spend more time EQ-ing for the higher volume, when i get a chance to crank it a bit later.
Those tube swap ideas sound cool Cathbard, will they smoothen out the tone? or mainly cut the high end a bit and darken it? Would it be preamp or power amp tubes that effect how 'smooth' it sounds when pushed?
As for speakers, whats a good speaker for an AC30? Would i be able to have just one of the classic Alnico Blue speakers? Or is there a better option?

Quote by AXmichigan
Turn down the attack knob on the pedal (i think it has one)
definitely get a compression pedal

if you like srv and john mayer's tone i can give you suggestions on pedals because most of my rig is setup for their sound and it does a damn good job


oh btw, is that tone through your JCM 2000? I know there are setting threads, but how do you have things set and what OD do you use?
I know that John Mayer uses/has used the Keeley Blues Driver like i have
#9
alnico blue would be the classic choice but they're pretty pricey. i've got my sights on a warehouse guitar speaker greenback copy at the moment. they also do a alnico blue copy for around 200 i think.
#10
The Alnico Blue is rated at 15 watts. You would need 2 of them.
Another option is the Alnico Gold, a 50 watt version of the Blue.
#11
Im wondering if its worth trying out all these things to try and find a the tone in my head on a Vox amp. Im mainly a bedroom/jamming with friends player but hope to gig in future (only done one minor gig), so i dont know if i should be spending all this effort trying to get to 'that' tone. Maybe i should step down to a different amp rather than go through all these speaker and tube swaps.
Plus, the Vox is such a big and heavy frickin amp haha.
Im just trying to decide whether the vox is right for me, thanks for all the advice! It might just be that my taste and my ears have changed. I just dunno if its worth effort modding it when maybe another amp would better suit my needs outright!
#12
Could be the Vox is not for you.
No one amp is perfect or even liked by every person.
I know mine is for me. Although I do plan on getting a second amp for stereo, but that one won't be a Vox.
Maybe a Fender Bassman, which you should check out.
#13
Quote by CodeMonk
Could be the Vox is not for you.
No one amp is perfect or even liked by every person.
I know mine is for me. Although I do plan on getting a second amp for stereo, but that one won't be a Vox.
Maybe a Fender Bassman, which you should check out.


Yeh, thats what ive been thinking, i mean, i love its jangly cleans, and can get a great beatles-esque tone out out it, especially with my Hollowbody (a poor mans gretsch haha) but drive is important for the tone i want.
Ive seen plenty of Deluxe Reverbs and Blues Deluxes on Gumtree for cheap, but i would want to try out them out before making the plunge. I could sell on my Vox and save the money until i have a bit extra to fill the price gap in stepping up.
However, when i tried a Blues deluxe, it was LOUD. How loud is the Deluxe reverb? Does the 20W make it crankable for bedroom playing/jamming/small gigs?
What ive heard of Fender Bassmans i do like, awsome warm tone, but i they seem to be pretty damn pricey
#14
I don't think you'll be able to get a smooth distorted tone out of an AC30. Voxs have a british voicing (which is the high-end jangle and brittleness that you're talking about), whereas amps with an american voicing, such as Fenders and Mesa B's, give you the smooth distorted tone you seem to be after. I think getting a fender is probably your best bet for getting that SRV tone.
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#15
Yeh thats what i was worried was the case haha. What Fendery amp do you all recon i could get trade wise with my AC30? And bare in mind i dont want one thats too loud. Ive seen plenty of Blues Deluxes, Hot Rod Deluxes, Blues Jrs and Deluxe Reverbs online (gumtree) for decent prices.
AC30s go for around £600 new, so i could hopefully get up to 400 for mine.
From videos ive seen i love the tone of the Vibroverb, but ive only found them for as low as £750. Whats the most likely best fender to do for? Given my tastes and limited budget and expecting to go used.

Im hoping to have a jam with my matres some time soon so i can really decide if im set on keeping the vox
Last edited by jaybals at Apr 21, 2011,
#16
Quote by jaybals
Yeh, thats what ive been thinking, i mean, i love its jangly cleans, and can get a great beatles-esque tone out out it, especially with my Hollowbody (a poor mans gretsch haha) but drive is important for the tone i want.
Ive seen plenty of Deluxe Reverbs and Blues Deluxes on Gumtree for cheap, but i would want to try out them out before making the plunge. I could sell on my Vox and save the money until i have a bit extra to fill the price gap in stepping up.
However, when i tried a Blues deluxe, it was LOUD. How loud is the Deluxe reverb? Does the 20W make it crankable for bedroom playing/jamming/small gigs?
What ive heard of Fender Bassmans i do like, awsome warm tone, but i they seem to be pretty damn pricey


I have seen Fender Bassman heads on Craigslist here for $250 and $300 just a few weeks ago.
But that's in the US. Dunno what prices would be on your side of the pond.
#17
unfortunately the cheapest i seem to be able to find Bassmans (Bassmen?) for is £500 for the Blackface Head, then i would still need a Cab. So that seems a bit out of my range :[
Would the Blues Jr be a real step down in quality from the Vox? From what i remember playing one a few years ago it sounded pretty good, i loved the warm tone of it, and the low wattage lets it gt cranked, but i hear the drive is pretty muddy.
Whats the best Bassman alternative for a lower cost?
#18
Hey, sorry to bump my own thread, but i thought id let you all know, after more and more playing with my AC30 on full Gain, ive come to love it again haha. So im going to stop bitching and complaining, one day i do home to get a decent fender amp though... oh the dreams...

However, i have not had a chance to crank the master with full gain, for obvious reasons, so the problem of treble still remains. I also plan on, in future (probably around my birthday) swapping the tubes. What is a good shop in the UK to get tubes? Im thinking NOS if i can, to get a better tone if you think it would help the tone.

I might try those RFT valves for the preamp for a warmer tone if i can find them. Would i want specific brands in each of the tube fittings? (v1, 2 & 3). How about poweramp?

EDIT: i found a set of 3 RFT 12AX7s for only £37! How much darker do they sound? would i still be able to get that classic vox chime with the tone cut rolled back?

EDIT2: I also found TUNGSOL 5751, which is apparently what Stevie Ray used in the Phase Inverter to tame and harshness, would this have the same effect in an AC30? Sorry for all these questions, im not an expert on buying different tubes!
Last edited by jaybals at Apr 24, 2011,
#19
ac30 (and other classic amps from the 50s and 60s) all get very fuzzy fizzy when u turn it up. the treble is the product of overdriving the preamp and/or the power section, and cannot be completely avoided. u can turn the tone control down, but the effect isnt all that desirable (like clapton's woman tone, muddy pickups with tone down, but getting the harmonic overtone from overdriving the amp).

classic amps like ac30s and fender tweed bassmans and bf deluxe reverbs were never intended to be overdriven, so they sound great when the signal isnt clipping. then turn up the volume, u get crazy treble that you just cant turn down.

if u want a smooth lead tone, i advise you to find an amp (or i guess a pedal) thats built to make a smooth lead tone. someone suggested mesa, which is a good amp when u want a smooth lead tone. compare santana to hendrix. big difference in the fizz.

its possible with pedals too. but purchasing an amp thats built to make smooth lead sound will be very beneficial i think.
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#20
I have a Jet City amp (JCA50H) that is hugely trebly. It kinda stinks on it's own, actually. I changed all the tubes to JJ's, and while noticeable, it was not a dramatic change. I don't think a tube change will give you what you are looking for.

I put a 10 band MXR EQ in the effects loop. Worked like a charm. I do not add to the signal, I just pull those trebles down that I don't want. I didn't realize how much bass was buried in there. For reasons I cannot explain (other than "flat" on the EQ being not truly "flat") I seem to have way more (and tighter) bass than I had before the EQ.

It's worth a try and you could even return it if it didn't help, but I think you'll get more than you expected. I was so ready to get rid if my amp so many times, now I have switched to it as a main from my DeVille. This will never produce the tones of SRV for example, but blues is how you make it, too.
#21
Yeh, ive come to terms with the AC30 tone, but now i just wanna find the best tubes to swap out in my AC30. I know ill never get that smooth tone a la SRV, but i would like to get new tubes in my AC30 to hopefully make a difference in tone, maybe even get my own sound, maybe cut down some of the harsh treble when turned up.

Thanks for all the feedback! I will one day hopefully own a nice fender amp, but for now ill work with the tools i got :]