The original, single-speaker Vox AC10, introduced as early as 1959, had undergone several cosmetic changes before it was finally discontinued in 1965, but what mostly remained intact was its distinct circuit, found in many of the company’s flagship line of amplifiers.
Having more power than the diminutive, practice-sized AC4 and being more compact than the influential and gig-ready AC15, the AC10 occupied a desirable space between those two popular amplifiers that were recognized for their harmonically rich overdrive and jangly clean tone.
Now, Vox has revived this classic all-tube amplifier with the Custom Series AC10C1, which brilliantly reproduces Vox’s legendary Top Boost sound in a lower-wattage amp with the addition of an onboard studio quality reverb for even more versatility.
FEATURES: The AC10C1 foregoes the original’s square shape for a more portable, rectangular housing, similar to the AC15 Custom. With this extra length, the amp has more low-end resonance and greater projection in volume. Considering it feels lighter than its stated 27 pounds, it’s an ideal candidate for a personal stereo rig when using two. Dick Denney’s original design of normal and vibrato channels has been replaced with a single input to accommodate this model’s built-in Top Boost circuit.
The AC10C1 features top-mounted “chicken-head” controls for gain, bass, treble, reverb and master volume, along with an external speaker jack, two 12AX7 preamp tubes and two EL84 tubes pushing 10 watts of output power. The single 1x10-inch Celestion VX10 speaker is evenly voiced, providing the bell-like tone of Celestion’s blue alnico speaker at lower volumes and the bark of their Greenback when cranked.
PERFORMANCE: As the owner of three AC30s from different eras, I’m obviously a sucker for the Vox sound. Fortunately, the AC10C1 lets me get that tone in an amp that’s both portable and loud enough for gigging. What makes it impressive is how detailed and focused its Top Boost tone is no matter what guitar is plugged into its input.
The bass and treble EQ knobs deliver precise tone shaping, and the even taper of the gain and master volume knobs allows for enough clean headroom before blossoming to complex overdriven crunch. Turning up the treble produces sparkling cleans that have razor-sharp top-end sheen. For more muscular tones, the bass knob provides ample body to shape the amount of heft. The reverb has an expansive splash but doesn’t overwhelm the sound because it lacks the noisy digital artifacts found in most built-in reverbs.
LIST PRICE: $599.99
MANUFACTURER: Vox Amplification, voxamps.com
The studio-quality reverb adds incredible dimension and ambience considering the AC10’s portable size.
At 10-watts, the AC10 has plenty of volume and nails all the ringing clean jangle and chunky overdrive that Vox is famous for.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The compact VOX AC10 packs all the legendary Top Boost character of the flagship AC30 and is cleverly voiced for more headroom, versatility and chime.