Price paid: $ 120
Sound — 7
I played several guitars through this amp. Listing the guitars would be Ibanez Artcore AXD83P, Ibanez RG350, Squier Bullet Strat SSS, and a clone of a double cut Les Pau with an upgraded Seymour Duncan Invader in the bridge position. I played some classic rock tunes (Alice Cooper, AC/DC, Kansas, Dire Straits), some metal tunes (Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Metallica), some Blues Rock tunes (Joe Bonamassa, Robin Trower) and some pop rock/alternative tunes (White Stripes, Radiohead, Nirvana) through the Vox Pathfinder 15. This amp is not noisy at all (with the exception of single coils at high gain). This amp has a very warm tone, and it sounds like it is trying to emulate tube tones, but it doesn't quite pull it off.
The clean settings (no gain boost) has a lot of character, but isn't the sparkling clean you would hear from Fender amps. It doesn't seem to distort until you get to around 3 o'clock or so on the volume dial. Just noodling around with the clean channel' and some reverb, playing arpeggios, I got some really nice tones out of this amp. It really has a Vintage rock type of sound and sounds exceptionally nice for a solid state amp at its price.
The gain immediately sounds good with overdriven blues and classic rock tones easy to dial in. Playing just random blues licks was really enjoyable, and again I was getting really good tone out of this solid state amp when you take into account the price point. I ran through several songs and played through a few solos, and I was really impressed. I definitely think the Vox Pathfinder shines when playing mildly distorted classic rock. This amp handles metal fairly well (in my definition metal would be older Metallica and Megadeth, etc.), but the tone gets muddy around 3 o'clock of the gain knob with the gain boost engaged. It was a little worse with the Seymour Duncan Invader than it was with the stock pickups in the Ibanez RG350.
Unfortunately, I don't play black metal, death metal, etc., and can't comment on those besides saying that this amp will not get that distorted without pedals.
The tremolo to me is far too extreme even at its lowest settings, but would probably be nice for someone wanting to play old surf music. I personally felt like the base tone of the amp was hurt when the tremolo effect was engaged.
Overall Impression — 7
I would have liked to play around with the footswitch with this amp, but I do not have it. It would probably be worthwhile to purchase the footswitch. It would also be nice if the reverb were controlled via the footswitch. The amp has a lot of sonic options and every dial on the amp is useful (with the exception of the tremolo effect which is useless in my personal opinion). If I could go back in time I would have liked to have started out with this as my first amplifier. I started out with a Line 6 Spider and this Vox is far superior. The base tone available with this amp is just far superior to what you would expect from a cheap solid state amp. Really, for this price, I am comparing this in my mind to a Line 6 Spider and a Roland Cube. The Vox has far less in the way of effects having only reverb and tremolo but the base tone is just so much better. This is a good amp for practice and small gigs, and I would suggest it for beginners to intermediate players who are in the market for a solid state amp.
Reliability & Durability — 6
This amp is really sturdy and I think this amp would be reliable for some gigs in small venues. I think this amp was really made to be portable for small gigs and practice, and I think it could take the abuse that would naturally occur. It is heavy for its size and feels very solid. The carry handle seems to be very sturdy. I would personally like to see corner guards/bumpers on this, just because it would make me feel better, but I think this amp is very durable as is.
Features — 7
The Vox Pathfinder 15R is a 15 watt solid state amp with Gain, Gain Boost, 2 band EQ (Bass and Treble), a spring reverb and tremolo speed and depth controls. The Pathfinder has a headphone jack, it has a record out jack, it has a jack to hook up to an external cab (8 ohm), and has a jack for the optional footswitch. This is a single channel amp with an 8 Vox speaker. The 2 band EQ actually gives you a fair amount of control over the EQ, though I prefer a 3 band. This amp gets pretty loud for a 15w solid state amp, and would probably be okay for jamming, band practice and small coffee shop type gigs. The reverb sounds very nice. The tremolo on the other hand seems overpowering even at the slowest speed and near the lowest depth. The optional footswitch allows you to turn the gain boost and tremolo effect on and off. This amp seems fairly versatile, but it seems to really want to sound like classic rock seems like it takes a lot more dialing to get other sounds out of it. It has enough gain to play most hard rock and metal until you get into the realm of black metal, death metal and things like that. The Vintage chicken head knobs are attractive on the Pathfinder. The Pathfinder also has a faux leather carry handle. This amp costs $120 US dollars brand new.