Quiz time. During the British Invasion, what amplifier was used by damn near every group that crossed the Atlantic to grace the stage of the Ed Sullivan Show? Haven’t got it yet? OK, remember that mop top group that forever changed both popular music and our culture. It’s the amp they used throughout their careers. Still haven’t got it? Well the amp everyone was using was the predecessor to the Vox AC15. Of course, once the British Invasion began, they had to multiply the power on these wonderful amps almost tenfold just to compete with the screams of hundreds of teenage girls. But here it is, the amp that changed pop music, the Vox AC15.
Vox AC15 – A Timeless Classic
Hey everybody, Landon here from Lando27music. So today I thought I’d take the opportunity to review an amp that’s been featured in pretty much all my reviews and demo videos. It’s the Vox AC15 and it’s definitely my favorite amp right now.
So I thought it’d be a good time to go through all the features and settings in detail so you can have a look if this was an amp that you’re considering buying. Hopefully this video can help you decide if you want to get it or maybe it can help you decide that it’s not for you. So anyways, let’s take a look. Let’s go through, first of all, all the specs. So the Vox AC15C1, that’s the model I have, it’s a 15 watt, all tube amplifier. It’s got a Celestion Greenback. So the preamp section is powered by three 12ax7 tubes, power section is 2 el84s. The amp weighs about 50 pounds, so it’s manageable. It’s definitely not the lightest amp. You can carry it around. So that’s the specs.
Knowing How to Dial In the AC15
So let’s take a look at all the settings. Alright, so let’s get things going here. So you can see on the amp, it’s got the main power and it’s also got a standby switch so you can heat up the tubes and then, if you don’t want to turn off the amp, you can leave it on standby for a while if you’re planning on using it. Alright, let’s start by looking at the left side. You’ve got your master section. It’s the master volume and the tone cut. On the tone cut right now I’ve got it dialed all the way to the left and basically that’s keeping all the tone in the guitar. So it’s kind of a reverse dial. If I if I turn it here. So let’s try it out here. I can hear that this will muffle it. Might be a little more noticeable in the in the bridge. Cut it back in, basically taking out your highs. Next let’s move over. We’ve got the tremolo. So it’s a built-in analog tremolo effect. Right now I’ve got it dialed down all the way to nothing and its foot switchable. So this amp has the option of adding a two-channel foot switch. I’m just using a generic one from a company called Apex. Vox makes their own. You can pretty much use anything that uses a two channel selector. So let’s add some tremolo in here. Put it to twelve o’clock, enable it. This kind of stuff you can do. Moving a little bit. That’s full cutting. It’s cutting it in and out fully. Take it back to 12. There you go. That’s kind of stuff you can do with the Tremolo. It’s a nice sounding effect. To the right there you’ve got the reverb. So this has a built-in reverb tank and it’s pretty good. It’s a also foot switchable. So it’s off right now. I’m going to select it, bring it up to about 9 o’clock there. Give it a little more reverb to about 50%, halfway, that’s at 12 o’clock. So great sounding reverb I think. Okay so you go for the reverb.
So let’s move on. This amp, it has two channels, but you can only select one at a time. So it’s got the top boost channel and the normal channel. Right now, I’m in the top boost. Basically the top boost has an EQ. So going from left to right you see it’s got the bass, treble, and volume, and the nice thing about the AC 15 is you’ve got a volume on each Channel. But then, you’ve also got the master volume. So if you want to crank the channel volume to give it a lot of dirt, you can lower the master and keep it at a quiet level, but also have some great distortion. So right now, I’ve got it a pretty clean setting, got the base rolled back a little bit. I’m going to take the reverb off. I’m going to dial in some volume on the top boost channel here and just roll back the master a little bit. So I think this should give me almost some breakup. Actually, I’m in pretty much distortion. Bring that back a little bit. These are some pretty high output humbuckers. So, just lower that back down a little bit. That’s more of what I was talking about. So here, it’s just about to crack, depending how hard you hit it. Okay. So let’s bring up the volume here. Then take down the master, bring the top boost up to around three o’clock. Let’s do it full. Turn the reverb off there. Okay, let’s switch over to the normal channel so we can do a direct comparison here. I’m just going to do an open A with full volume. So let’s hear what we got. So on the normal full. So in the room here it sounds a little bit darker. I don’t know if that comes across. So that’s basically going through all the features with humbucker. Let’s plug in something that’s got single coils and hear the kind of tones you can get from that. Alright, so in the neck here. So the bridge here has more than crunch.
Vox AC15 – Substantial Improvements in the New C1
Welcome back to gearwire.com. I’m Owen O’Malley and this is the Vox AC15C1, the AC15 custom. It’s the newest iteration of Vox’s classic 15 watt all tube, 1 by 12 combo amplifier. Now if you’ve watched other demos on gear wire, you probably notice that we use an AC15 for a lot of our guitar and effects pedal demos. That is the previous generation AC15. The AC15C1 adds quite a number of functional features although it’s using the same tube complement. You get three 12 ax7 preamp tubes and two el84s driving your speaker. A couple of main differences; the AC15 that we typically use in our demos uses a Alnico Blue, a Celestion Alico Blue speaker. The AC15C1 comes standard with a Celestion Greenback, which is a pretty excellent speaker. It’s a real classic British rock speaker.
Two Channels Means More Options
The major additions though that the C1 brings to the AC15 is that it’s now a 2-channel amp. Now, it’s not an internally switching two channel amp, but you do get two different channel inputs. In the opening we were listening to the top boost channel. The top boost engages your top boost controls and tube and EQ. The normal input bypasses those. It just uses a normal channel volume. Both of those channels feed master volume and a master tone cut. Now, the tone cut is actually in the power amp section so you can dial back some of the top-end of the AC 15 which is, you know, a bright, shiny amp and kind of tame that down a little bit, but still retain a lot of the gain characteristics of the amp. Let me show you what I mean. Now here’s our tone cut completely off and lots of gain. Now, let’s bring the tone cut to about 50%. Now let’s just dial the tone cut all the way up hear what that sounds like.
Really Loud and Tones Galore
So, just like in the previous generation AC15, you also get a reverb, really lovely sounding reverb. Let’s dial that in. And of course you also get a tremolo. Now the tremolo and the reverb are individually foot switchable, but the foot switch is an option. It does not come with this amp, so we’ve been listening to the top boost channel. Let’s switch over to normal. So you can hear it’s pretty much just like a sort of a full-range version of the top boost channel. It’s almost like top boost at neutral. It’s not really sort of a clean and then distorted difference between the two channels, between normal and top boost. It’s more like one channel that’s your full open sound of the AC15, which is the normal channel, and then your top boost channel which is your sort of more sculpted EQ. And again, both channels feed the master section which also has a master top boost, top cut, sorry. Again, the two channels on this amp are not internally switchable. So if you want to be able to switch between normal and top boosts on the fly, you’d need to get an a/b switcher pedal.
So now let’s hear what this amp sounds like with a different hat. Wrong chord. But hey, still sounds really good. So that was the normal channel. Now let’s top boost it. 15 watts gets pretty loud. Maybe not loud enough for big the biggest gigs, but certainly loud enough for medium-sized venues, playing along with a drummer, it’s plenty loud. It makes a really phenomenal recording amp because it’s not, you know, 30 watts.
Perfect for Gig or Studio
One other cool thing to mention about this amplifier that it adds to the AC15, the C1 adds the AC15, is external speaker jacks on the outside of the amplifier, and the ability to drive an extension speaker, and use the one 12 that’s inside the combo. So that’s pretty cool. So you can kind of, you know, for medium sized gigs maybe you just want to get a one 12 Vox extension cabinet and get basically get a two 12 AC15 to be pretty sweet.
So yeah, there you go. It’s just sort of a great sounding, you know, Vox amp it’s got that chiming Vox clean, so really excellent classic rock and rock overdrive sounds. Great for a wide variety of music.
You’ve been watching gearwire.com. I’m Owen O’ Malley.