Vox AC15C1 Guitar Combo
Vox Amps, voxamps.com
Originally published in Guitar World, July 2010
Whether you play classic rock, blues, country or indie rock, the AC15C1 delivers classic Vox tones in an affordable, portable alternative to the AC30 Top Boost.
The sound of a great Vox tube amp is one of the 10 wonders of the world for guitarists, but until recently that experience has come with a relatively hefty price. A few years ago the situation started to change for the better when Vox developed some exciting new models that offered classic Vox tones at prices that weren’t out of reach to most players.
Vox’s new Custom series continues this welcome trend by providing classic Vox tones and pro features in fully gig-worthy amps that cost about what you’d expect to shell out for a basic entry-level amp. Interestingly, the new Custom series AC30C2 features a simpler design that does away with the various switches found on its previous (and currently discontinued) Custom Classic counterpart, while the Custom series AC15C1 expands upon the features and versatility of its Custom Classic brother by adding a Normal channel and a master Tone Cut control. The new models also come stock with Celestion Greenback speakers, which replace the Wharfedale speakers and the more expensive optional Celestion Alnico Blues.
The addition of a Normal channel and a tone cut control brings the AC15C1 closer to the classic AC30 Top Boost model than its previous incarnation. With its 15-watt output and single 12-inch speaker, the AC15C1 is like a mini AC30 that’s ideal for small club gigs and recording.
Fans of classic low-watt combos with 12-inch speakers, like the original AC15 and tweed and brownface Fender Deluxe, know that you don’t need a lot of controls to get a whole lot of tone. The AC15C1 stays true to this ideal by offering only a volume control for the Normal channel, and bass, treble and volume controls for the Top Boost channel, plus master volume and tone cut controls for both channels. The amp does not provide channel switching or even channel blending, but an A/B/Y box provides a simple solution.
Like an AC30, the AC15C1 includes a very cool tremolo circuit with speed and depth controls. Unlike an AC30, the amp also features built-in spring reverb with a level control. The tremolo and reverb effects are in the master section, so they are applied to both channels, and you can engage or disengage each effect separately with an optional footswitch. An external speaker jack with an 8/16-ohm impedance selector automatically disconnects the internal speaker when you connect an external speaker cabinet, while the extension speaker jack keeps the internal speaker functioning when you plug in an additional cab.
Thanks to its pair of EL84 power tubes and distinctive Vox tone circuitry, the AC15C1 oozes classic Vox character. If you love that distinctive Vox treble and upper-midrange chime, the AC15C1 delivers these qualities at probably the lowest price in history. The Celestion G12M Greenback 12-inch speaker keeps the midrange focused and full while adding just the right amounts of warmth and bass. If you need bigger, deeper bass, a 4x12 cabinet is highly recommended, and the extension and external speaker jacks make this an easy solution. Because the AC15C1 has a silicon rectifier (instead of a tube rectifier, like a vintage AC30), the guitar’s attack remains crisp and instant even when the amp is cranked all the way up, and you still get that beautiful compressed distortion (especially when you blend the Top Boost and Normal channels with an A/B/Y box) that has made Vox amps the choice of discriminating tone connoisseurs.
Vox deserves praise for designing tremolo and reverb circuits that are truly musical. The tremolo circuit has an intoxicating rhythmic quality and includes a depth control. The reverb sounds surprisingly smooth and sweet for an amp in this price range, and it never produces the annoying springy “boing” of many cheap reverbs.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Whether you play classic rock, blues, country or indie rock, the AC15C1 delivers classic Vox tones in an affordable, portable alternative to the AC30 Top Boost. And it’s perfect for club gigs and recording.
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