The Beatles helped popularize Vox amps, and Sir Paul tours with them today because they still have that sound – classic chime and overdriven grind.
Introduced in ’59, Vox’s AC30 delivers 30 watts of brilliant, jangly top-end with help from a quartet of EL84 tubes. Listen to the Beatles, early Stones, Queen, or U2 and you get the idea.
This AC30CH (Custom Head) version revives the classic head-and-cab setup and updates it with the company’s reactive attenuator, which produces the same overdrive and grind whether played in a bedroom or onstage. In simple terms even us guitarists can comprehend, by controlling the voltage, the attenuator allows you to play “loud” even at low volume.
What are the advantages of the separate head and cabinet? Portability, for one thing. AC30 combos are infamous backbreakers. The head here tips the scales at a respectable 41 pounds, while the 49-pound cab is bulky but feels featherlight in comparison to a combo.
That portability ultimately means versatility. You can plug into one of Vox’s other cabinets – say, the hand-wired V212HWX with dual Celestion Blue Alnicos – or one of your own.
For the price, however, the V212C cab is a deal. It’s hand-wired and loaded with a pair of Celestion G12M Greenbacks that simply sound right when coupled with the AC30. You get all the chime and grind without the wallet-weakening cost.
The head includes both tremolo – a common vintage AC30 component – and a spring reverb, which back in the day was included on special models.
Playing a ’65 Rickenbacker 365 through the AC30CH is a step back in time. The Normal channel provides a dry, crisp tone. Switch to Vox’s fabled treble-amplifying Top Boost, and all that classic Beatles bite comes alive.
This article originally appeared in VG January 2017 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.