Price paid: $ 300
Purchased from: eBay
Features — 8
This is a 1966 Pathfinder V1 all tube model. These were made for half a year and are sometimes called the American AC4. The amp features an 8 inch speaker pushed by an all tube PTP wired EL84 powertube. The preamp is 2-AX7 and the rectifier is a EZ80. The amp features 3 control knobs. The first is a volume knob that is pretty useless before it hits 12 o'clock, but its a quiet amp so that is okay. The Treble is next and the Bass is last. The eq is similar to to a Fender Blackface in that the controls after the volume effect the volume. With the bass at zero even with your volume at 10 the amp makes no noise. This may add to the lack of headroom, but with my usual complaint for spanky tones being too much headroom on the fender for recording those tones. This amp is great for getting those hot tones at a low recording level. This allows you to mic the amp close and the proximity effect actually makes this amp sound very big when recorded and played back through some gear.
Sound — 7
At first the amp sounded too quiet, even for a 5w. Also was experiencing a lot of sag, which I thought was unusual for a Vox. After further inspection I noticed the original specs called for a EZ80 rectifier. The PT had been replaced and someone had swapped the transformer out to a EZ81. I ordered a NOS EZ80 and the amp definitely has the bark that was missing with the oversized rectifier. It still is much more tame than a AC15 on the top end, but i really love the amp for top end overdriven tones. Humbucker in bridge position with the volume up delivers the electric-toaster style chords. Doesn't push much air with the 8 inch speaker though.
Reliability & Durability — 10
It has survived since 1966 and while the original owner did have it recapped it came with the original Vox tubes to boot. Hardwood birch cabinet construction. The original tolex was quite dirty, but is still tough as nails. The grill cloth had a slight hang in the middle, but I really love the look, so decided to keep it original. The piping is the real brass kind and that is really cool because being 50 years old brass is just starting to look its best. It has that mellow gold flow and smell of an old AC30, but weighs less than a guitar, and so far is much more reliable than the higher wattage Vox stuff I've played through. For an amp that probably wasn't intended for the road, mine is practically bullet proof.
Overall Impression — 10
This amp is slightly different than the UK counterparts AC4, but it's still a valid amp. I don't think it sounds American in design as far as the top end goes. It really does have the top end of a Vox still. I am primarily a rock 'n' roll guitarist, but have played in some professional pop gigs. Vox amps are great, but the newer ones can tend to be unreliable. This amp is super simple PTP wired, so I would feel confident bringing it to any gig as far as reliability. It would not compete with a drummer in my opinion, but I would definitely rely on this amp for a studio session, or where it doesn't need stand alone volume over drums. Some hum when idle maybe do to leakage in old components. Completely silent with the guitar volume rolled down which I always find very useful in the studio so the channel doesn't have to constantly be muted when doing small edits and arranging. As mentioned above. The breakup at low volume with the small 8 inch speaker really lends it self to close-micing and you can really get great lead and distortion tones from this little amp and it still has the feel and dynamics, unlike recording an amp where you need to where headphones to hear the mix over your guitar bleeding through the walls.