Price paid: A$ 1280
Purchased from: Manny's
Sound — 9
I play a maple necked Highway One strat. As far as blues and rock tones are concerned it has no problems nailing them. The amp is very transparent and allows the natural sound of the guitar to show through. The normal channel can produce either dark and gritty blues tones, or bright, punchy tones. This channel works very well for clean tones. The Top Boost channel has a lot more gain, and this is where that, rich, creamy, warm overdrive, and shimmering clean tones, that are pure Vox, can be found. The tone controls of the Top Boost circuit are very interactive, and as the bass or treble are decreased, the mid range is increased. With a fair amount of gain dialed in, and the treble and bass rolled of a touch, even a strat can roar wonderfully. This amp is capable of wincing highs, so it pays to play around with the guitar's tone control(s), however I would describe the amp as being quirky, yet very interactive, and warm. It doesn't take long to find a great sound, and once you do, it doesn't need tweaking- very much plug and play. As the master volume is wound up, the natural compression of the EL84's begins to Shine through, making for great lead sounds. However, the AC30 is very distinctive in its tonality, and players might find that is either a case of love it or hate it. I personally adore it.
Overall Impression — 9
I feel the AC30 is a great match for blues and rock, as it is versatile and very player friendly. For the price, it was the best amp for what i wanted to play. I would definitely buy another if it was stolen. I love that distinct Vox sound- the shimmering cleans, the gritty lead sounds, the creamy overdrive. My favourite feature would be the ability to link the two channels together. This feature allows the amp to become even more versatile.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I would depend on this amp at a gig without a backup. It might be made in china, but it's solid. After more than a year, the tubes died, which makes the amp buzz. However, the amp still sounds great and it disappears at high volume. Obviously, being an all tube amplifier, if it is dropped, the tubes may not survive.
Features — 9
I purchased the amp in 2006, so I'm guessing that's the year it was manufactured. I play mainly blues and rock, and the amp certainly covers those styles with ease. It has two channels, the normal channel, which is fitted with a brilliance switch, and the revered Top Boost channel. The channels can be linked together which considerably extends the amps sonic palette. It has an effects loop, and also the amp's output bias can be switched between 82 warm, and 50 hot, which means it can run at 22watts like an early AC30, or at 33watts.