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Some help with AC30 type amps... suggestions?

Nathan S

Hey guys, a few months ago I played a british made ac30 (2002 i believe) with blues in it when it was backlined for a gig. I would love to get one, but the horror stories of their reliability are whats stopping me. So, with that said, what are some new amps being made that are closest to a british ac30? I've heard of hayseed and the stangray, but wanted to see what you guys though.

ps. I've been playing a tophat CR and ive been finding it too woody, crunchy and overall not smooth enough. its like this one wants to lean more towards the 18 watt marshall vibe more than the vox...

you guys have any suggestions? thanks!


I've been researching this for a friend. First a couple of questions, then recommendations.

Q1: Which AC30 tone are you enamored with?
a) jangly (top boost or ef-86 channel)
b) Brian May, Rory Gallagher, early Ritchie Blackmore (Normal channel)

Q2: Pedals or cranked?

Recommended amps to research:
65Amps London (15W)/Marquee Club (30W)
Brown Note Brown Fox (15W/30W)
Dr.Z Stang Ray (like a Rocket with an ef-86 front end)
Gabriel Sound V18/V33
Matchless HC/SC/DC-30
Reinhardt The Sultan (similar to a Rocket)
Reinhardt Jester (similar to a Liverpool)
Trainwreck Rocket clone (Top Boost channel)
Trainwreck Liverpool clone (higher gain than an AC30)

You'll realize that these are all either one or two channel amps, whereas the AC30 is usually found as a three channel amp. I haven't uncovered a boutique that covers all the bases:
Normal (Volume only)
Bright (pre-Top Boost)
Top Boost
ef-86 substitute for Bright and/or Top Boost

The builders tend to chose one of the basic sounds and stick with it. The Brown Fox, London, Gabriel, and the Matchless also have ef-86 channels.


I think a lot of the reliability talk was early on in the CC series. I think you'll find the CCs and the Heritage series to be high quality amps. Of course there are a myriad of companies making voxy amps.

Nathan S

jay, thanks for your help.

I'm really into the more brilliant sound, but with some cut to really round and smooth things out. my tastes fall somewhere in between though, but i would say i lean more toward the top boost.

I usually would run it almost to the point of break up and boost it from there, right now im using a rc booster, timmy, and a LGW.

Where does the Goodsell Super 17 fall in this spectrum? What is its circuit mainly based off of?


Silver Supporting Member
If a JMJ30 ever pops up in the emporium jump on it,top boost, normal, ef86 - it has it all..but they rarely show up for sale, and the wait list is something like 2 years - the Hayseed is a great amp and more obtainable...in my opinion these are the best of the "vox" amps. The Stangray is sweet thru Blues - but it doesn't really roar like my favorite vox tones.


RE: the Goodsell 17, I'd call it a cross between a Marshall 18 and a Vox AC15, leaning either way depending on the speakers that you pair with it. It really spanks and grinds through Blues and Golds.

I'd been an AC30 / DC30 guy in the past, and finding the Goodsell was a great revelation. It had the sparkle/grind, but also a "fuller" sound on the low end, which was a really great thing for a single coil guy like me - the soundguys loved it for that reason, and for the halving in stage volume too. I was pairing it with a THD 2x12 cab. I sold the DC30 after I got the G17.

Good luck on your quest. :)


Silver Supporting Member
Nathan- The CR is a great amp and can definitely get some Vox tones going. Have you tried running it through a 2x12 with blues?


I've owned in the past month a Hayseed 30, BLC30, and BadCat Black Cat. I got asked to let someone know how they stacked up and compared. Here is a chunk of the PM I just sent them answering that question:

Overall Rankings:
1. Hayseed
2. BLC30
3. Black Cat
4. AC30CC

EF86 Rankings:
1. Hayseed
2. Black Cat

12AX7/Top Boost rankings:
1. BLC30
2. Hayseed/Black Cat
3. AC30CC

The BLC30 and the Hayseed are very similar sounding. The BLC30 is a copy of the AC30TB6 which doesn't have an EF86 channel. The Hayseed as you know has the EF86 normal channel and the 12AX7 TB channel. This makes the Hayseed more versatile than the BLC30. The BLC30 and the Hayseed are very close on the 12AX7 Top Boost channels but to my ears I liked the BLC30 by a hair. It was close enough it could have just been a difference in the doping on the Blue Dogs in each amp. Since I was mostly using the 12AX7 channel on the Hayseed for shimmery cleans and edge of breakup sounds I'm not dismayed at losing the Hayseed since the BLC30 fills it's shoes nicely. The EF86 channel on the Hayseed I really liked it just wasn't getting used much for what I've been playing. Having both channels and the option to blend them made the Hayseed the more versatile amp and probably the amp I'd favor overall if I had to choose just one.

The Black Cat definitely has the AC30 character but has a little tighter modern feel to it. It is also capable of more gain and has a little bit different character to the gain. The Black Cat's gain is more "modern" sounding. It is more intense and high gain grainy sounding rather than the singing or blizzard of nails vox gain sound. The amp is really nice and does the edge of breakup thing well with a bit more edge to the breakup than the more classic Vox styled amps (BLC30 and Hayseed). I think it will work very well for what I'm playing currently. I also ran it through the speakers in the BLC30 to see if what I was hearing was mostly a speaker difference. Running it through Weber Blues did give it a little bit more of a Vox character but only slightly and it still sounded similar but like it's own thing. For what I'm playing currently I think the BadCat will get the most use although I personally like the more vintagy Vox sound. If they weren't both beastly amps I'd love to use a two amp setup with the BadCat and the BLC30 using the BadCat for cleans and edge of breakup and the BLC30 for overdrive sounds.

The AC30CC while a nice amp to my ears did fall short of the other three. It had nice cleans that stayed a bit cleaner than the others but didn't have as much character or bloom.

The only disclaimer is that I haven't had a chance to play the BadCat as much as the other amps. I feel like I've gotten a good impression of what it can do though. The tone controls on it are also some of the most interactive I've ever encountered.

If you have any questions about how they stack up or compare I'd be happy to try to answer them.
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Tone is Paramount
Gold Supporting Member
I know what you mean tone wise about the Top Hat CR..I had one with the same issues,,,,The amp from them that I loved ...and had that Vox thing was an earlier script logo King Royale...amazing amp,,,That being said, the current Vox AC30 CC amps are quite good, and the versitality of the 3 channels is great...I'd get a Head for the weight issue's with a Vox 2/12 combo, and those Wharfedale speakers are worthless...I run Scumback M55 [Greenbacks] with my Voxy amps and they're amazing!!...again, there are a lot of happy Hayseed owners out there, and Rob does a great build!!!....good guy too....


I think my taste in AC-30 tones are similar to the OP's. I have a JMJ30 (and have owned an AC30TBX, AC30HW, and AC30CC) and a Hayseed. If I didn't have the JMJ30, I'd definitely go with the Hayseed. I would have kept the Hayseed but my number came up for a JMJ and I couldn't resist.


Go for a USED AC30CC with the cheap speakers.
You will save mega money that way.
...then upgrade speakers. U can find good AlNiCos out there. A few to choose from which is cool.
...new tubes? ..bright cap mod (easy)?
You gotz options here. Simple and priced decent.

The older AC30s are the problematic ones. It's 2009!! They've figured out how to build them right on a Chinese budget.

Nathan S

thanks for all your help guys...

zuper, i have a 2 12 combo with a blue and vintage 30 in there and always mic the blue, but it seems the amp just sits too much on the 18w marshall end. it gets very crunchy and stiff, without much midrange smoothness.

for those of you who have owned hayseeds, i have a couple questions... I've read on a couple posts here of people who have complained of a very shrill untamable high end and had to get it modded, do the newer production ones have these mods? what are your experiences with them. also, is the hayseed a relatively smooth amp? i want to get away from always playing crunchy and stiff..

btw i played by buddies super 17 and it sounded great, really open and smooth, im not sure if it would give me enough control over the tone though.

thanks again for all the help!


You like the Brit-built AC30 then get one. I've had one for the past several years with no problems. Years ago I had a Matchless S/C30. Many think the C chassis Matchli are just like AC30s...no way. You want the sound of an AC30 then that's what you should get.


Senior Member
No reliability issues here.

I've had a my Korg Uk ac-30TBX for about 8 years and an Korg ac-15TBX for about 5.
Both are gigged pretty heavily.


That does look like what you want - quality looking build:


I seriously object to the dual chassis construction and configuration. It's a heat trap.
My JMJ runs much cooler (at 100% on the power scaling setting) than my AC30TBX and HW ever ran. Absolutely zero reliability problems in 2+ years of ownership.

Nathan S

i would love to get a jmj, it looks amazing, but considering the fact that they are no longer accepting orders and ive heard the number 2 years floating around, i don't think i'll be able to get my hands on one. still really curious about the hayseed though.

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