Pathfinder 15R Review

manufacturer: Vox date: 01/28/2011 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Vox: Pathfinder 15R
The Vox Pathfinder 15R is a single channel solid state amp with good tone at an entry level price with built in reverb.
 Sound: 7.7
 Overall Impression: 8
 Reliability & Durability: 7
 Features: 8.1
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (7) pictures (1) 29 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 6.8
Pathfinder 15R Featured review by: UG Team, on january 28, 2011
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 120

Features: 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. // 7

Sound: 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. // 7

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 6

Overall Impression: 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. // 7

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overall: 9.5
Pathfinder 15R Reviewed by: angus69, on april 27, 2006
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 143

Purchased from: guitar center

Features: It has everything you could possibly need in a practice/small gig amp, without any of the useless digital fx gee-gaws that still seem to be prevalent in this price range. I still wish that the footswitch was included, but they're easily had for $25 or so. One feature I've come to realize more fully with time is just how amazingly well voiced the tone knobs are. They are very interactive with each other, making a 2 knob EQ very versatile. // 9

Sound: I paly an Epiphone LP and a Strat (Fender) and I use a Tubescreamer with it. I use this Vox amp when I have my classic rock, Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds, rockabilly and pure country moods, which are frequent. I have had Vox amps for a long time and they are all very quiet, haven't seen an exception. The clean channel is very clean and you can set it for bright and twangy for country or warm for soft rock type stuff. Turn the gain up without the boost switch and you get a very nice "crunch" similar to The Stones, Steve Earle and Springsteen. It has a very good variety of sounds, unless in my opinion you are trying to get that heavy metal sound. You can get it on this amp, but you will need a pedal for it. Sometimes a pedal is a hassle though and personally I like the boost sound distortion of this amp, reminds me of the old "Who" stuff. For metal, if that is solely what you are into, go for the Marshall. The clean channel does not distort, even at full volume unless you crank the gain up. The distortion is Vintage distortion. Cream, Hendrix, even Zeppelin stuff you can do fine with it. Don't expect Metallica, Iron Maiden or Sabbath from this amp. Great amp for Queen, Brian May stuff, especially on a strat or telecaster. This is an awesome little amp and the sound is pure classic Vox. I can't really tell the difference between it and my AC30 except of course for volume. // 10

Reliability & Durability: It is built like a tank. Have had many Vox amps and never had one break down on me. It isn't what I use to gig with but for practice, this amp will suit most everyone's needs. Nothing to change, burn out or break as it is solid state. I've played the shit out of this for over six months and it still kicks ass and it has been knocked about a bit too. // 9

Overall Impression: I have the gear I mentioned above, plus a bunch of acoustics. I would get another one if it were lost or stolen, but that ain't likely. I ain't gonna lose it, and I have two rotweillers that love to eat people. I compared this to all the other amps in it's price range. Crates, Fenders and Peaveys are no match for it in a 15 watter. The Marshall MG15RCD is equal. I chose this one because between it and the Marshall I can get any sound I want. // 10

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overall: 8.8
Pathfinder 15R Reviewed by: FunkySpider, on may 25, 2010
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 130

Purchased from: -

Features: One channel, twist knobs for Gain, Volume, Treble, Bass, Tremolo Speed, Tremolo Depth & Reverb. A Power Switch & a Boost knob (wich adds more gain). It also features a headphone jack, footswitch jack, line output & ext. Spkr jack. I find myself never using the boost knob, almost never the tremolo, but the reverb is used quite often. The look is really good! // 8

Sound: I don't have any exiting Vintage guitars, I play a Squier Strat through some pedals: Dunlop wah, Boss OD-3, DS-1, Little Big Muff & ending with a Boss CH-1 chorus. I keep the treble round 11'o clock, while I keep the bass fully engaged. One of the reasons for this setup is that I think the treble is way to trebley & when you get the treble around 3'o clock or further it start making a really quiet buzz in the background. But I must say, this amp is wonderful. Its a one of its kind, both in price & wattage. It suits my style (Funk-Rock, Pop-rock, Hard-Rock naming: Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Mayer, John Frusciante, Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix). It works very well with my pedals, but it also has a beautiful clean tone, especially with the bass up. It is definitely a great practice amp! // 9

Reliability & Durability: I would not gig with it, because it starts to break up at a certain level. But it is great for practice at home, or with a band. It hasn't let me down yet and I don't think it ever will. It looks & feels solid. The handle is really tough, nothing to worry about. // 9

Overall Impression: I've been playing for around 1,5 year now, have had one other amp so far, a Vox DA5. If it was stolen, I would probably get an other amp, just in search of tones. But if I had to pick a good amp in this price range, this one would be it. Overall: I'm really happy with this amp! (I'm sorry for any mistakes in the language, I'm not a really good English speaker) // 9

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overall: 9
Pathfinder 15R Reviewed by: robert.cooze.9, on august 06, 2014
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: Private Sale

Features: Made in Vietnam between 2012~2013 Bought in New Zealand about 3 months second hand! Contrary to popular Internet myths this is a single channel amp, With my electronics background and checking out examples of the circuit diagram it is a single channel with a boost switch in the second stage. What do you get out of the box?

Top Panel - Input jack, Gain knob, Boost Switch, Treble knob, Bass Knob, Tremolo Speed Knob, Tremolo Depth Knob, Reverb Knob, Power switch and power led. 

Back Panel - Head phone Jack, 8ohm Ext speaker jack, Line output jack, foot switch jack and finaly a wired in three pin power cable (Phase, Neutral and Earth) This thing runs on "Mans power " 220-240V~50Hz the power supply is unregulated for the power amp (+ & - 20V dc to ground) and zenna diode regulated for the pre amp (+ & - 15V dc to ground) So this thing can kill you like a valve amp If you desire to take it apart (there is 4 points were 240V AC are easy accessible when the amp is in parts). The Gain pot is connected to the out put of the first opamp and and then in to the second opamp. The boost switch and the related pedal (accessory) switch in a different negative feedback value to the second op amp in the signal crane. After the second opamp there is a typical LED diode clipper to ground the reverb signal is fed before this clipper to a spring reverb tank and fed back to the volume~tone mixer section. The tremolo section is part of the volume~tone mixer section. The volume~tone mixer section seems to be of the tone stack passive style. The power amp is a single IC power amp with soft clipping diodes in its out put this is connected to the speaker and the line out and headphone jacks, the headphone jack cuts the speaker and the line out does not it seems to be filtered. Why do I know this Well I have been working in the field of electronics for 20 to 30 years at the time of writing. Also I wanted to mod the clipping LED Diodes. The speaker is a 8" Vox Bulldog speaker the cabinet is made out of chipboard but well sealed from moisture it is covered in a vinyl like black stuff, there is some gold piping on the top sides and bottom. Four heavy duty rubber feet. And on the front the classic Vox trimmings brown textile fabric with the diamond pattern the Vox badge on a black vinyl panel and a gold strip and white piping. What do you get well its a all analogue amplifier that looks the part its rated at 15W. // 10

Sound: When I bought this amp I had no preconceived ideas on how it should sound, I just knew when I plugged in a guitar I liked it, This amp is not voiced like a fender valve amp clean clear and full bodied, Nor is it voiced like a Vox AC30 chimy and gritty at same time, It has its own voice it seems plenty loud not sure how it would compete with a loud drummer, but it has been noticeable in playing situations that I have publicly preformed in. When it is driven hard by the gain and boost switch the diode clipping can be very harsh sounding, but even as a clean amp it is a nice dirty clean Its default sound is a little nasal with a guitar equipped with a SHPG1 (pearly gates) but a current Gibson Les Paul was good, A cheep strat clone could be everything from Icepick to boomy with the adjustment of the tone controls, from a players point of view it lets the sound of the guitar be the hero not the sound of the amp with my main guitar H-S-H with various switching and splitting options I can get tones that I love to use from the quack of a strat to the twang of a country guitarist to AC/DC crunch ("Back in Black") with out the aid of pedals even nice warm blues distortion. When using pedals this is a different beast then it is the guitar + pedal is the hero. 

Now this is the non standard sound I modded mine. The clipping diodes where removed, A switch installed and a secondary circuit board installed. I now have the choice of standard LED clipping as factory No LED clipping or Asymmetrical LED clipping. With out the LED Clipping the sound is more open (it still distorts) but is much nicer but it is subtle. With the Asymmetrical Clipping it is sweeter than the original almost an octave effect (faintly). And Finally the Stock clipping well there are times I use it.

When I play there is some quite good touch sensitivity I have gone from crunch to clean just by altering my attack on the strings when I use my fingers the ability to change the tone at will is very impressive, for my playing style which is my own it is great. This amp will not do the super high gain sounds from the '80s on wards but that is not my style. I'm sure with the right pedal and filters that could be achieved 

For the money this is a good sounding cheep amp that you can here what you are playing and improve your skills, as a side note I plugged in to one of the budget amplifiers that come with the student guitars and well no wonder solid state has a bad name, this is not one of those amplifiers if this was built at the beginning of the introduction of solid state who knows. // 8

Reliability & Durability: Ok in the year I have been lugging this thing about it has been as reliable as a reliable thing being reliable. I would not get the thing wet as the cupboard will investigated in our corner of the world we call it weetbixbord in reference to a breakfast food called weetbix, that when wet goes all soft and falls apart. The finish is still great looks newish and not gone tatty but I do look after my gear. The inside of the amp is good production practices ok the jacks are plastic but each supports the other as in the pots are attached to the circuit board but the are also attached to the top panel it all locks in place. As for the power amp section and its heat sink it seems a bit small but it is thermally connected to the chassis too it does not seem to get hot at that point so hope the work was done correctly and a bit of over engineering was done. // 8

Overall Impression: For what I play it works for me. It has its own sound, I still use my Vox Mini 3 that has a whole heap of different sounds each one can not emulate the other but only get close, it is loud enough for what I do, but quiet enough. To get the best out of it needs to move some air so have had some complaints for noise. It does interact with its environment as much as the player and guitar. It is an guitar amp I would replace if stolen, would repair if it let out the magic smoke (I would fix it), I might buy a backup if needed, or run two with a phaser or flanger. // 10

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overall: 9.5
Pathfinder 15R Reviewed by: perfec_circl, on october 06, 2003
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 120

Purchased from: Harris Music and Sound

Features: It has a couple of built in effects (overdrive, tremolo, reverb). It'll pump out whatever style you throw at it (except country). It has channel switching for the overdrive and tremolo. You can do it on the amp or purchase the pedal that plugs into the back. Some people hear that the amp is "15 watts", don't let that fool you, it pumps out plenty of power for a jam, especially if you buy the cellestian speaker version for a bit more. // 10

Sound: Not only does it have the classic Vox low, rumbling distortion... it has an excellent range of tone. It only has a 2 band equalizer (treble and bass) which usually makes people think that this is a piece of shit. I can't even describe it in words. Note: I use single coils (standard Fender strat) and humbuckers (sd invader). // 10

Reliability & Durability: I won't lie to you, I've never had to tour or gig with this amp, only jam with friends and stuff, so if you buy it and use it for that, feel free to tell me all about it. Note: I gave it a rating of 4 for reliability but that can vary. // 8

Overall Impression: I bought this amp about oh. A year or so ago. As soon as a walked in the store, grabbed an ax, and plugged it in, I was highly impressed. I play the blues, punk, classic rock, metal, and everything in between, and I haven't had a problem with playing any of them. I've been playing for 2 or 3 years now. This was not my first amp. My first amp began blowing more and more as I progressed in playing and I finally lost it one day and went on a quest for the perfect amp. That is how I came across the Vox Pathfind 15R. If the price is more than I paid, you can probably negotiate it lower if you're buying locally. // 10

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overall: 3.3
Pathfinder 15R Reviewed by: unregistered, on december 22, 2006
0 of 4 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features: The main appeal this amp had for me was that it had reverb and analog tremolo in a small amp. This is very appealing for low-volume playing in the home studio with noise constraints. The amp, like most of the Vox amps with the exception of the chrome-grilled modeling line, is very attractive. // 6

Sound: These had a level of self-noise that made them unusable for me at low volumes, so the rest was irrelevant. High noise in a new unit is the sign of a lousy amp, but because of the other actual defects in the amp circuits in these individual units, I never even bothered to trying to experiemnt with the sounds and volume levels. // 2

Reliability & Durability: I went through three (3) sealed units in two days and all three were bad straight out of the box. The first one had almost zero tremolo depth. The second one had a very bad pot that dropped out and the third had a problem that I've forgotten. All went back and I gave up on the amp. Aside from the actual gross defects, all three were hideously noisy, even through a filtered, noise-free studio AC outlet. The problem was mainly hiss rather than hum/EMI, and there's nothing a user can do to cure that in a solid-state amp. It's just a matter of noisy, cheap components or poor circuit design. This may not be an issue to people Who play louder or don't know any better. The relative simplicity of the analog circuit suggests that actual failure of the amp is unlikely, assuming one is good to begin with, which none of these were. // 2

Overall Impression: These amps are wholly consistent with the rest of the cheap Vox Chinese imports: Lovely looking, interesting circuits, cheap components and totally awful quality control. I have had the same type of problems with other Vox models (these problems are typical of cheaper Asian import amps of other brands as well). Many people love these amps, but either they are luckier than I've been in their selections, and getting a good amp should certainly not be a matter of luck! Or they have low expectations and experience with amps. I've used, bought, sold and serviced guitar amplifiers for almost forty years, so my perspective is a bit broader. // 3

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overall: 7.3
Pathfinder 15R Reviewed by: unregistered, on april 14, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 94.5

Purchased from: second hand

Features: This is an older model Pathfinder, it has no reverb and on the back there only is a headphones out. The other features are the same as in the other reviews so I won't name them here again. Since it has few features there's nothing on it I don't use. You gotta learn how to work it to get a good sound though, but once you've got it it's very easy to even create a sound on the guess, without plugging in your guitar. It's also f'in loud, I could still hear myself when playin in the bedroom with 2 other guitarists, a bass player and a drummer. I'm upgrading to a 40-50 watts tube amp for Live playing though, but for bedroom practice this amp's perfect. // 7

Sound: I use a Cort S2600 electric with it. The guitar has 3 rail pickups wired with a coil split. This amp really is quite versatile, clean sounds very warm, deep and 3 dimensional. Slight overdrive is very Hendrix-like and then it goes from SRV to Bloc Party/Interpol and then to almost Muse-like fuzz sounds. This amp's great for blues, Indie, clean guitar styles, grunge, garage rock and so on. No metal on this one without a pedal. It really is quite versatile, clean sounds very warm, deep and 3 dimensional of very funky, sharp and thight. Slighty overdriven it's very Hendrix-like and then it goes from SRV to Bloc Party/Interpol and then to almost Muse-like fuzz sounds. This amp's great for blues, Indie, clean guitar styles, grunge, garage rock and so on. No metal on this one without a pedal. // 8

Reliability & Durability: It never really turned me down but the input jack broke once and I had to have it replaced. Was quite a hassle to get the right input though, I eventually just took a Marshall input and 'modified' it to fit the Vox. I would use this in a gig but when miked I'm sure it'll work just fine. I just wouldn't use it because for gigging I prefer a 2 channel amp for more effective rythm/lead switching. // 7

Overall Impression: I play a whole lot of styles, from blues, funk and garage all the way to metal and some shred (John5). I've been playing for about 2 years now and don't own much more than this amp, my electric guitar and a steelstring acoustic. I wouldn't buy this again because I need something bigger right now. What I love the most about this amp is it's responsiveness, using only my guitar's volume knob I can already get a lot of different sounds. It also respond well to picking dynamics. All in all I find this to be one of the best cheap practice combos because it sounds a lot better than most of it's rivals. // 7

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